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Federal inspectors late Mayo Clinic off with a warning over the death of a 9-month-old puppy at one of the institution's research labs.

The USDA, in a notice issued at the end of January, issued an "official warning" to Mayo Clinic for the alleged violation. The death occurred at Mayo Clinic's S.C. Johnson Research Facility in June of 2020, when a puppy died from asphyxiation two days after undergoing a procedure to place a tracheostomy tube.

According to the USDA's investigation, the puppy had a "large mucous plug" just below the tube, which blocked its airway and caused it to suffocate to death. A member of the research team had noticed the blockage on June 21, but it wasn't reported to the attending veterinarian as was required, the report continues.

Mayo, in a statement from earlier this year, called the puppy's death "unfortunate," noting that the research project investigation "is no longer active" and saying it reviewed its care processes immediately after the incident.

The group Stop Animal Exploitation Now had asked the USDA to fine Mayo Clinic $10,000 per each uncovered infraction at the end of the investigation. The group, in a March news release, called the USDA's decision to only issue a warning "nothing more than a slap on the wrist."

While the warning itself doesn't include any enforcement measures, the USDA said any evidence of future violations could result in the agency pursuing civil penalties, criminal prosecution, or other sanctions — including for this specific incident.

Mayo Clinic, in January, said it  "makes every effort to ensure the safety and well-being of animals and adheres to or exceeds all federal and state laws and regulations regarding animal use in research. Mayo uses animals in research only when necessary and always with the goal of providing improved treatment or therapies for patients."

A spokesperson told Bring Me The News Mayo Clinic has nothing to add beyond its previous news statements.

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