People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said they will file a formal complaint based on an eight-month “undercover” investigation at two University of Utah biomedical research facilities.

PETA said their agent, identified only as LZ, gathered video, photos and log entries to record alleged mistreatment of research animals. LZ worked as an animal support technician at the university from Feb. 12 to Oct. 29, and shot “hundreds of hours” of video inside the labs.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that University officials disputed the PETA investigator’s interpretation of what she saw, arguing she does not understand animal research.

"None of the things she alleges are substantive," Tom Parks, the University’s vice president for research told the Tribune. "It's a remarkably banal list of ordinary events in an animal-care facility." The complaints involve monkeys, rabbits, guinea pigs, cows, pigs, dogs, cats and kittens, rats, mice and frogs.

PETA officials will file the complaints with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funds much of the University’s research, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The group alleges scores of violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and other medical research standards by the University’s scientists, animal technicians and research support staff.

Read the full story from the Salt Lake Tribune:

Greg Henderson, editor of Drover’s, Pork’s sister publication, provides the following commentary.:

Is it a coincidence that PETA made this announcement just 10 days after the Humane Society of the United States helped force the closure of a packing facility in Vermont? Possibly, but PETA surely hopes the success of the HSUS investigation last week will have some carryover-effect. That, however, is not likely.

That’s because there are virtually no similarities to the HSUS abuse video from the Bushway Packing facility in Vermont, and PETA’s undercover investigation from the University of Utah. The events captured on film at Bushway were indefensible, and they took place at a facility cited three previous times for animal abuse.

The University of Utah research labs, however, are another matter. The labs are highly regulated, and University spokesmen were quick to point out that the PETA agent didn’t understand animal research. Nobody came to the defense of Bushway employees to try to explain away their acts.

While it would support the agenda of both PETA and HSUS to blur the lines between blatant animal abuse and ethical research for medical purposes, let’s hope the media and the public can distinguish between the two.

Greg Henderson, Drovers editor.