Posted at: 11/26/2012 5:44 PM
Updated at: 11/26/2012 6:45 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
An Albuquerque medical research lab may have to move out of state if Bernalillo County commissioners won't exempt it from a new animal cruelty law.
National animal rights groups are putting pressure on the commissioners to deny the exemption for Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute.
The Institute does experimenting on animals, and it is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One of its buildings on Kirtland Air Force Base will soon become private, not federal, property, and that change will make the lab subject to the laws of the county.
"We're afraid that the county is going to end up passing an ordinance similar to what the city of Albuquerque did," said Dr. Robert Rubin, CEO of the Institute. "That would literally make it impossible for us to function within the state, so that's why we're asking for the waiver."
Groups like the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Stop Animal Exploitation Now accuse the Institute of cruel and deadly practices. It is believed to be the nation's largest independent non-profit research group working on respiratory diseases.
"We're a big economic factor and we could be out of business at the stroke of a pen," Dr. Rubin said.
The institute employs more than 500 people and has a substantial local economic impact.