ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals claims in court that Merck & Co. abuse dogs, cats and primates in its labs, and as a Merck stockholder, wants Merck enjoined from soliciting proxy votes for its annual shareholder meeting unless it discloses how it plans to "improve the living conditions of all animals used in-house and at contract laboratories."
PETA claims that it owns more than $2,000 worth of Merck common stock, "of 1 percent of Merck."
It seeks a federal injunction ordering Merck to stop soliciting proxies for its 2012 meeting without informing stockholders of PETA's shareholder resolution and supporting statement.
"Our company has been repeatedly cited by the government for improper care of animals used in its laboratory experiments, including caging primates in isolation, issues related to expired drugs and inadequate anesthesia, untrained personnel, inadequate housing of animals, and lack of proper veterinary care," PETA says in the Supporting Statement, which is in the complaint.
"In the last three years, our company used more than 41,000 animals in-house. This number includes almost 6,600 dogs and 13,500 primates. More than 16,000 of these animals were used in painful experiments and more than 2,000 were given no pain relief whatsoever. A number of animals died in their cages without being humanely euthanized," the statement says.
PETA claims that Merck routinely denies sick animals vet care, that employees slam dogs and cats into cages and that "an untrained worker used pliers to pull a tooth from a struggling, under-sedated dog."
PETA says Merck submitted its proxy materials to the SEC without including the PETA proposal.
The annual shareholder meeting is scheduled for May.
"Unless this court enjoins Merck ... PETA will suffer significant and irreparable harm by being denied its once-annual opportunity to communicate its concerns about Merck's treatment of animals to other Merck shareholders and have its proposal considered by the shareholders, and PETA has no adequate remedy at law that could compensate it in money damages for this lost opportunity," the group says.
PETA wants an injunction stopping Merck from collecting and using shareholder proxies without informing its stockholders of PETA's proposal.
PETA is represented by Bernard DiMuro, with DiMuro Ginsberg.
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