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Laurentian University grad student says her lab animals were euthanized sooner than expected

A flurry of online posts in the last 24 hours are pointing to concerns around the closure of Laurentian's Animal Care Facility — and the potential fate of the animals in the lab's care.

'The time of their death was much sooner than it should have been,' grad student says

Meghan Ward is a graduate student at Laurentian University who was conducting research related to conservation biology. As a result of the lab's closure, she says the 250 tadpoles she had been using in her research were recently euthanized. (Meghan Ward/Twitter)

A flurry of online social media posts in the last 24 hours are pointing to concerns around the closure of Laurentian's Animal Care Facility — and the potential fate of the animals in the lab's care.

As part of the school's restructuring process, the university says it's winding down research activities at the facility and some of the animals used for research at Laurentian will be euthanized.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, officials say the site primarily housed mice and rats for medical-related research and did not house any larger animals like cats or dogs.

Laurentian graduate student Meghan Ward, who was conducting research related to conservation biology, says the 250 tadpoles she had been using in her research were recently killed.

"The time of their death was much sooner than it should have been, and there was no research gained from the death," she said.

"One of the whole reasons we sort of justify using animals in research is because there's an end to the means and there's a reason we're doing that research. And almost always it's for the conservation of other species," she said.

"I had all these animals that would have resulted in really important research that could have conserved other amphibians. And instead none of that research could have been gained and they had to be euthanized before any data could have been collected."

Ward says she's feeling overwhelmed with the situation and the ongoing financial crisis at Laurentian University.

"Most grad students are just so tired of not being given straight answers or full answers and sort of just being left hanging, hoping that we can figure out what to do on our own," she said.

Ward says there are other universities interested in acquiring some of the animals that are currently in Laurentian's animal care facility.

"You can do transfers between universities to make sure the animal is safe and that nothing is being transferred that shouldn't be transferred."

Some of those who are expressing concerns online are offering to adopt any of the rodents and reptiles that are in the lab, but Ward says that isn't feasible because there could be problems with the spread of bacteria and viruses in a non-lab setting.

I think it's reasonable that students and community members are frightened for what will happen- Laurentian University graduate student Meghan Ward

"I do think there is a misunderstanding, but I also think people are just so angry and upset right now that I think they have a right to be concerned about what's going to happen, because as a group — students, faculty, staff — have really just been let down and our expectations have not been met," she said.

"I think it's reasonable that students and community members are frightened for what will happen."

The following is Laurentian University's official statement on the matter:

"Laurentian University wishes to thank the community for their questions and concerns on the Animal Care Facility. The facility is small and has primarily housed mice and rats for medical-related research. With the closure of the Animal Care Facility, these research activities will be wound down under the oversight of a veterinarian following animal welfare guidelines in accordance with the Canadian Council on Animal Care and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs. There are no large animals, cats, or dogs housed at the facility."

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