ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WJBK) - Shri Thanedar, a democrat running to be Michigan's next governor, is facing tough questions about the treatment of animals at a testing lab he once owned where almost 200 dogs and monkeys were abandoned and had to be rescued.
The Huffington Post brought up the story on Wednesday. They date back to a July 2010 article in USA Today about AniClin Preclinical Services, which closed after his company Azopharma, went bankrupt that year.
According to a 2010 USA Today report, 118 beagles were stuck inside the facility and the lab's workers had been jumping fences to feed and give the dogs water.
Thanedar says the company was placed in receivership by Bank of America and he warned them about the live animals and ongoing research. He says they locked them out anyway.
"The banks come in and then they are ruthless and that's exactly what they did," Thanadar said.
The democrat is hoping to replace outgoing governor Rick Snyder, but before he started his run for governor, he was a scientist running Azopharma, a pharmaceutical development company.
"The company helped small businesses develop new medicine," he said.
When the recession hit in 2010, his business wasn't spared. The Bank of America took over the company including one of his 10 lab facilities AniClin Preclinical Services in New Jersey, where 55 monkeys and 118 beagles were used for laboratory testing.
He said when the bank took over, he had no control over what happened to the animals who were stuck in locked cages inside the bank-owned facility.
"I told the bank that there is sensitive research being done, their living animals lives involved and let us take care of it. But they did not accept our advice," Thanadar said. "They were anxious to sell all of the assets and get their money, and they did."
The story made headlines back in 2010 when it originally happened. Animal lights eventually joined together to negotiate a release of the animals. New York based group Pets Alive filmed video of beagles that were bred for animal testing felt grass for the first time.
All 118 got forever homes.
A California-based group, In Defense of Animals, placed all 55 monkeys in sanctuaries around the country.
Thanedar says he was concerned because his company took good care of the animals.
According to USDA documents, the lab received several citations for cages that were too small and for expired medication used in their veterinary treatment.
Thanedar, who owned the lab's parent company, says he did not deal with the lab on a day to day basis.
"I had a CEO that managed that operating but we were in good standing and we had all of the guidelines and requirements and licensing," he said.
We talked with the groups directly tied to this rescue, they said not enough was done to protect these animals. It wasn't until they stepped in with lawyers working pro bono before anything was done to get these animals to safety.