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Charges dropped against Bio Corp

Bio Corporation in Alexandria, Minnesota supplies animal specimens to classrooms around the country. (Lowell Anderson / Forum News Service)

All charges of animal cruelty have been dropped against Bio Corporation, an Alexandria company that provides specimens for dissection in classrooms.

On April 18, the Alexandria City Attorney's Office dismissed the case, which was prompted after the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals produced a hidden-camera video that showed pigeons being drowned and crayfish injected with latex dye in order to kill them.

"Having all 25 charges dropped sends a strong message that Bio Corporation is a reputable company that provides an irreplaceable learning experience for students," Bill Wadd, the company's co-owner, said in a statement.

In the filing for dismissal, Assistant City Attorney Gregory Donahue said he received new evidence and did not believe he could meet the burden of proof to go to trial.

The attorney's office arrived at the decision by taking "an exhaustive look" into Bio Corp's practices, visiting the facility and speaking with an expert from the University of Minnesota's Department of Veterinary Medicine, according to Andrew Wiener with McCarten Law Firm, which represented Bio Corp.

Wiener said a key factor in the case came from the veterinary expert who refuted PETA's claims that pigeons suffered a prolonged death of least 10 minutes while they were being drowned. The expert said that pigeons are incapable of holding their breath and that death from drowning would be instantaneous.

Also, pigeons are considered to be pests under Minnesota law and are not subject to euthanasia laws, Wiener said.

In an email to the newspaper, Daniel Paden, PETA’s director of evidence analysis, said that the veterinary expert's claims are contradicted by the American Veterinary Medical Association, which states that drowning is not a means of euthanasia for any species and is inhumane.

Paden added that PETA is "reviewing its options to protect animals killed at Bio Corporaton."

Cruelty allegations about the crayfish were unsupported, according to Wiener.

Wiener said the case against Bio Corp made it seem as if the company was dealing with a lot of live specimens, when in fact, between 90 and 95 percent of the animals are already dead when they arrive at the facility.

All of the animals processed by Bio Corp are used for educational study. Grade schools, junior high schools, high schools, colleges, universities and professional schools depend on specimens provided by Bio Corp, Wiener said.

The company has operated in Alexandria for the past 25 years.

Bio Corp management said the company cares about public perception and has always used the most humane methods available when dealing with animal specimens.

To ensure humane and ethical treatment of animals, the company said it consults with and abides by guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and licensed veterinarians.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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