PULLMAN, Wash. — The Washington State University Avian Health
Laboratory (AHL) in Puyallup was the scene of a break-in and vandalism that
occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, Nov. 20.
The AHL is closed to the public until Monday Nov. 29 to facilitate a timely and
cost-effective cleanup. Sample deliveries are still being accepted as the
six-person staff has salvaged many of the AHL’s service functions.
The AHL is a service laboratory with a primary mission of providing
professional diagnostic services not unlike similar laboratory services
associated with human disease diagnosis and prevention.
Included in the AHL’s services are significant roles in bird health surveillance,
bird disease diagnosis, cause of death determinations, and public health and
food safety quality control testing of eggs, egg products and poultry. Other
sectors served by the laboratory include pet bird owners and small farm flocks
of poultry, pigeons and game birds.
A press release issued Sunday evening by the radical group known as the
Animal Liberation Front (ALF) claimed credit for the crimes that resulted in
tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the state-owned facility and
equipment. A more accurate damage estimate will be issued at a later date.
Damages included smashed windows, incubators, computers, printers, fax
machines, telephones, microscopes and other scientific equipment. Muriatic
acid and bleach were splashed about the facility and the contents of dry
chemical fire extinguishers were sprayed throughout. The letters “ALF” were
spray painted on one wall.
No chickens were stolen, although about a half dozen eggs were removed from
the animals’ enclosure.
The Avian Health Laboratory is a part of the Washington Animal Disease
Diagnostic Laboratory based in WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department was the initial investigating agency
and a multi-agency investigation including federal authorities continues.