Primate Products, a monkey breeding company at the center of the MonkeyGate scandal in Hendry County, Florida, assigned invasive surgeries to vet techs instead of veterinarians – in violation of state law. David Roebuck, a former employee at the Florida company, told TheirTurn that vet techs performed C-section abortions on pregnant monkeys so that the company could sell the fetal organs and the mothers’ milk.
Primate Products lab monkeys
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “Veterinary technicians can assist in performing a wide variety of tasks, but they cannot diagnose, prescribe, perform surgery, or engage in any activity prohibited by a state’s veterinary practice act.”
Mr. Roebuck’s account of the surgeries has been corroborated by Wink News, a local TV station that obtained Primate Products’ “Standard Operating Procedure” manual. The manual provides instructions on how to cut open a pregnant monkey and extract the fetus — a tutorial that a licensed and trained veterinarian would not need. When asked by a local reporter, Primate Products president, Thomas Rowell, did not deny the charges. The company has not respond to TheirTurn’s inquiries.
Mr. Roebuck, who was employed by Primate Products in 2008, was tasked with vacuum packing the monkey fetus organs. He resigned after one week on the job when his supervisor told him the monkey surgeries were routine: “If you know what a deep freezer looks like, there were two of those, filled with parts.”
According to Primate Products, the restrainer provides “trouble-free accessibility”
A representative from the Florida Medical Veterinary Association said surgery is an “unlicensed activity” for a vet tech and that the supervising veterinarian would be accountable under state law.
According to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, a non-veterinarian practicing veterinary medicine is subject to a $3,000 – $5,000 fine for each count. A veterinarian who knowingly employs unlicensed persons in the practice of veterinary medicine is subject to both monetary fines and probation or suspension.
Local residents have asked Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to launch an independent investigation. In addition, a formal complaint with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is being prepared.
Monkey breeding farm (photo: Alon Ron)
Holly Cheever, a founding member of the Leadership Council of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, said “a well-trained and compassionate licensed veterinary technician is an invaluable part of a veterinary practice, providing superb skills and a gentle touch to his/her patients, but their skill set does not include the performance of either simple or advanced surgeries. They receive no training in surgical skills or techniques.”
Smash HLS protests Primate Products
In addition to violating state veterinary laws, Primate Products breached zoning laws in Hendry County by performing surgery on land zoned for agricultural purposes. Charles Chapman, the County Administrator, said that the procedures brought to his attention are not agricultural. On March 27th, Hendry County launched an investigation.
Notice of investigation