Montgomery County authorities have issued an arrest warrant charging a scientist at the Institute of Behavioral Research with violating the Maryland Animal Cruelty Law, a county prosecutor said yesterday.
The scientist, Edward Taub, said he has told police he will present himself at the department's Silver Spring headquarters Monday morning to be charged in person.
Taub is the chief investigator at the Silver Spring laboratory where 17 monkeys used in medical research were seized in a police raid Sept. 11. The raid was spurred by allegations of mistreatment and unsanitary conditions reported to police by a lab volunteer, Alex Pacheco, who also heads a group called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Taub said yesterday that he is innocent of the cruelty to animal charge, a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail. The charges "are based on distortions of facts and a total misunderstanding of the nature of the research we have been doing by an untrained young man," Taub said in an interview.
Police who raided the lab said they found "monkeys who were in such physical and mental stress that they appeared to have bitten off their fingers and arms."
The monkeys were used in research to aid the recovery of stroke victims, according to Taub. The research involved a procedure called "deafferentation" in which the spinal reflexes of monkeys were "abolished," and all feeling in limbs was deadened, Taub said. Some of the experiments involved strapping a monkey's good limb in a way that forced it to use the limb that had no feeling, Taub said.
To the allegation that monkeys bit off fingers or arms because of stress, Taub said they "self-mutilate" because they have no sensation in those limbs and that no effective way has been found to prevent that.
Meanwhile, the 17 monkeys were back in a Rockville home after the conclusion Saturday of the secretive five-day odyssey that had taken them as far south as Florida. Pacheco, who was helping to care for them, reported that they were doing fine in their basement living quarters.
The monkeys had disappeared Monday from the home, where they were being cared for by Pacheco and other animal welfare advocates.