Animal abuse confirmed
On Dec. 30, after the Reno Gazette-Journal published a report alleging animal abuse at University of Nevada, Reno agriculture facilities, UNR President John Lilly wrote a message to the university community: “I anticipate a favorable report from the recently concluded USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] investigation that is referenced in the stories, much as we have from that agency’s routine and unscheduled inspections in the past.”

USDA last week fined UNR for abusing animals.

The federal agency closed one probe against the university and imposed a fine against the campus in a second inquiry, which is still open and could result in further action.

The first federal investigation dealt with charges of retaliation against UNR professor Hussein Hussein. The second dealt with abuse of animals and administrative violations over a 10-month period.

The campus was accused of failing to care properly for research animals, failing to train those who provided the care, failing to investigate the problem when it was called to the attention of UNR officials and failing to keep proper records of it all.

UNR officials declined to comment to the Gazette-Journal last week, but UNR President John Lilley did find time to write a report of his own and have it posted on a university Web page. His report sought to trivialize the results of the probes: “The report restates allegations reported by third parties to the USDA that allegedly occurred between May 2004 and July 2004. This section of the report was not based on USDA inspections.”

However, while the USDA took no action against UNR on the retaliation issue, it noted that campus officials failed to act on Hussein’s accusations. And in the second probe, the USDA fined UNR $11,400 on the abuse charges. Lilley’s message said, “Although we disagree with some of the items noted and will continue to discuss them with the USDA, we intend to pay the stipulation and thereby close the case.” However, the fine will not close the case; the investigation remains open.

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...