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New Information from UW Documents Detail Further Primate Abuse

5 Jun

Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), a national organization that monitors animal laboratories, has recently released information contained in documents and photos that were obtained from the University of Washington, Seattle.  These photos and documents paint a vivid picture of the harsh reality daily inflicted on primates within this lab without even delving into gruesome experimental procedures.  Barren captivity, severe illnesses, and staff incompetence exact a heavy toll on these primates.

The bungling staff of UW is incapable of even doing simple things like making sure the primates are actually in their enclosures.  Within sixteen months, seven primates escaped from their enclosures, injuring either themselves or other primates in the process.  How many more primate escapes went undocumented?

According to UW primate health care records, many other animals were negligently injured.  On 2/27/11 Primate J97270 was injured because “AT reported injury to animal.  Animal grabbed scissors from AT” (AT may mean Animal Technician).  On 4/5/11 Primate K11027, an infant experiencing thermoregulation issues, is listed with “what looks to be burn trauma of the D5 of the left foot” after an external heat treatment.

Unfortunately, this insanity doesn’t stop here — UW documents are riddled with many more episodes of ineptitude.   On 1/20/11 Primate A07005 was not properly prepped for surgery:  “Veterinarian cancelled surgery as the animal appears to have had access to food.  . . .  Animal vomited large quantity of partially digested food and extubated itself.”   On 4/14/10 a botched surgical procedure occurred when a “1mm probe inadvertently penetrated brain tissue.”  Primate R08004 was simply found dead with “severe edema and swelling of head . . . Ingesta present in mouth and a few drops of blood noted on nose.”  Primate A07121 was euthanized because “During a routine blood draw, it was discovered that the animal had a fractured right femur.”  Apparently, the incompetent UW staff had failed to even notice a major broken bone.

Non-procedural injuries at UW are rampant, too.  In 2010, two traumatic incidents led to the amputation of eight inches from the tails of two UW primates.  On 4/3/11 the tips of several fingers on the left hand of Primate A06077 were avulsed (forcibly detached) exposing bone.  Primate K03150 is listed with two lacerations, a 5 cm injury and an older 10 cm injury.  By no means are these the only animals with traumatic injuries; the full list would roll on for several pages.

Not only does UW staff regularly violate federal animal welfare law, they also regularly violate their own internal animal care policy.  Illnesses frequently cause weight loss, but major weight loss indicates severe suffering and should never be allowed.  UW’s policy regarding “Permissible Weight Loss” states:  “The upper limit of acceptable weight loss in animals on experimental regimens shall be 20%.”  A 20% weight loss is excessive – comparable to a 150 pound human losing 30 pounds.  In violation of UW’s own policy, Primate J04245 lost “over 25%” of his body weight.  Similarly, Primate A06014 also had a major loss of weight:  “The animal has had a dermatological condition intermittently since ’07.  Recently, there has been a >20% body weight loss, and the dermatologic condition has been recurring.”  Primate A02006 also experienced major weight loss noted as “The animal eventually developed >25% body weight loss . . . .”  Primate 01134 suffered “approximately 30% weight loss” – now our 150 pound person is up to a 45 pound weight loss!  Primate 04044 is only noted as enduring a “profound weight loss” – one can only imagine what percentage profound means.  A human, or a primate, who losses this much weight would look like a walking skeleton, like a concentration camp victim.

All of these incidents of negligence and trauma paint a grueling picture that is almost too bizarre to be believed, if it weren’t based on the UW’s own records!  Primates regularly escape from their enclosures.  They are allowed access to scissors.  Traumatic injuries requiring amputation of major body parts are common.  And many primates are allowed to become so severely emaciated that they resemble walking skeletons.

Take Action Against the University of Washington:

1.  Contact Dr. Robert Gibbens to demand immediate action against the University of Washington,   Seattle. The criminal acts of this lab must be severely punished!

Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Western Region
USDA/APHIS/A
2150 Center Ave
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117

(970) 494-7478
Robert.M.Gibbens@usda.gov

2.  Contact the President of the University of Washington, Michael K. Young, to demand that all abuse of primates at this criminal lab be terminated immediately. 

Michael K. Young
Office of the President
University of Washington
301 Gerberding Hall
Box 351230
Seattle, WA 98195

(206) 543-5010
pres@u.washington.edu

3. Support the campaigns by local groups to end the abuse of animals in labs in this area, such as the Northwest Animal Rights Organization, Seattle Animal Defense League, and Action for Animals.

Victory for Ferrets at UW

21 Mar

After being pressured from a campaign against the use of ferrets in pediatrics training, the University of Washington has now said that it has replaced the use of ferrets with human-based medical simulators to teach future pediatricians.

This change is the result of a campaign by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), with work on the ground by the Seattle Animal Defense League (SADL), as well as support by members of other local animal advocacy groups and activists, and the willingness of UW to adopt current best practices. This could not have been done without the tens of thousands of supporters from PCRM, SADL, the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN) , and others who flooded UW administrators with e-mails and written petitions over the past year encouraging the school to take this progressive step. And UW finally listened!

A UW spokesperson stated that instead of ferrets “tetherless simulators are being employed at the point-of-care at the bedside to simulate resuscitations and enhance teamwork among healthcare providers,” and that “simulation will be a more cost-effective way to train intubation techniques.”

Ferrets used in endotracheal intubation training at UW suffered through multiple intubations and were used for several sessions. Also, some of the animals used were later killed. Fortunately, the school has now joined the 95 percent of pediatrics residency programs in the United States that view nonanimal methods as not only more humane but educationally superior.

While this is indeed good news for ferrets, much more work needs to be done for the thousands upon thousands of other aniamls currently being used by the UW for research. Let us use this victory as a springboard to get more positive results for others.

PETA Targets UW with Anti-Vivisection Billboards

16 Jun

PETA takes vivisectors to task in a new aggressive ad campaign within Seattle. The ads were in response to the billboards from the Foundation for Biomedical Research that were up around Seattle, among other cities, in April during World Week for Animals in Laboratories.

PETA had intended to have these ads on outdoor billboards within downtown Seattle, but Clear Channel, the company that owns the billboards–and ran the ads in favor of animal experimentation by FBR–rejected them. Instead, the ads will be featured on mobile billboards and on top of gas pumps.

This campaign launched in April during WWAIL in Raleigh-Durham, N.C,  and also targeted other cities such as Boston and Los Angeles, who have prominent research universities that have heavily-funded animal experimentation centers. Seattle was chosen because of the number of animal laboratories within the city, many of them owned and operated by the University of Washington, who is one of the top recipients in the US for government-issued grants for animal experiments; $225 million of public money funded experiments on animals at the UW in 2010 alone.

The following are just three examples of the many experiments that have been conducted in Seattle:

  • Rats who had their skulls cut open and their brains damaged were placed in boxes that shocked their feet in order to cause them to screech and induce fear in other rats who were forced to watch. They were then killed, and their brains were removed.
  • Dogs had holes cut into their chests, had tubes inserted into their arteries, were forced to run on treadmills, and were then killed and dissected.
  • In a sensory deprivation experiment, dozens of newborn monkeys were separated from their mothers, locked up alone in the dark, and forced to wear masks that allowed them to see only a display monitor. Three newborns died during the experiment; the others exhibited irreversible brain damage.

“Experimenters are raking in millions of dollars’ worth of public funds and using the money to cage, cut up, and kill animals,” says PETA Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Kathy Guillermo. “Whatever their stated goals, experiments on animals are about misery, pain, and death, and compassionate people don’t want to support this—financially or in any other way.”

She adds, “We have repeatedly shown that the University of Washington has violated animal protection laws.  With these ads we are simply drawing attention to what is going on.”

Pro-Research Billboard Corrected

27 Apr

Improved billboard

As reported in our previous post Pro-Animal Research Billboard Offers False Choice, billboards by a national lobbing group for animal-based research have appeared across the country, with a few here in Seattle. An anonymous posting on a local news forum alerted us to the “improvement” of one of the billboards located near the UW campus, correcting the false dichotomy the billboard suggests exists. The web address of this site was added to the billboard, but no-one affiliated with this site was responsible for this action. The billboard, corrected on April 19, was subsequently replaced April 26 with an ad for a local radio station.

Pro-Animal Research Billboard Offers False Choice

14 Apr

As part of a national advertising campaign funded by the Foundation for Biomedical Research to get public support on the side of animal research, these billboards have been placed here in Seattle as well as other cities like LA and Portland. The FBR is a PR division of the National Association for Biomedical Research, of which the University of Washington is a member. The timing of these billboards is interesting, as it seems they were put up to rally citizens to their side in the face of the upcoming World Week for Animals in Laboratories, a week of international rallies and activities to show opposition to the institutions that confine, torture, and kill animals in the name of “science.”

This ad campaign is grossly misleading, as it presents to the public a false dichotomy, an artificial either/or scenario that suggests that animals have to die in order to save humans. Their claim that animals are integral and absolutely necessary to find cures are belied by the fact that there are many medical foundations that are working on cures for diseases without the use animals in their research. In fact, the use of animals prolongs the development of adequate procedures and treatments; animal physiology is different from that of humans’, requiring that humans models be used anyway for a treatment to be ultimately approved. Researchers get more money in grants by conducting animal testing, so there is little incentive for successful results or solid scientific design. Much of the research continues to be funded despite being redundant or inconclusive. And the animals suffer through torturous procedures, poor conditions, and poor treatment, with countless animals dying as a result, and an innumerable amount killed.

Biomedical researchers try to convince us that knowledge gained from animal studies can be extrapolated to humans yet their scientific papers reporting the results of research repeatedly include a disclaimer warning about making such an assumption. The difference in animal and human physiology means that many results of animal experiments are found to be inclusive, not applicable to human modality, or unreliable. The Food & Drug Administration recently reported that of all the drugs that tested safe and effective in animal testing, 92 percent are found to be either unsafe or ineffective in humans. Even drugs approved by the FDA because it was deemed safe under animal research can prove fatal because not enough adequate human research was conducted; the FDA estimated that 27,785 heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths between 1999 and 2003 occurred from the prescription arthritis drug Vioxx before it was recalled. How researchers can claim that animal research saves (human) lives is indicative of their own hubris and ignorance of the real consequences of their research.

Many effective non-animal methods are available, such as such as in-vitro cell and tissue cultures, micro-fluidic circuits, computer modeling, micro-dosing, the use of CAT, MRI, and PET scans, using human cadavers or organs, and clinical research. Extensive studies have to be conducted on humans regardless of the treatment or protocol anyway, so the use of animals can and should be skipped, which would allow the speedier development of treatments among human models.

The billboard also directs people to ResearchSaves.org, which offers an equally offensive command: “Against animal research? Please sign and submit this directive before you get sick or injured in order to insure you receive no medications, surgeries, treatments or disease therapies that have been tested or tried in research animals.

The logic of this imperative relies on the same simplistic reductive binary thinking. Using the same logic, we can then ask people: Against Nazis? Then you can’t drive a Volkswagen Beetle, developed by Hitler’s engineers to be the Jeep of the German army during WWII. Nor can you drive a Ford, who financed the Nazi party and helped secure its start. Nor can you drive a vehicle from General Motors, who by the mid-30s was totally committed to large-scale war production in Germany, producing trucks, tanks & armored cars. Against war and US military aggression? Then you can’t use microwaves, fly in planes that use jet engines, or use the internet, all technologies developed in the theater of war. The price of living in a modern industrialized society is that all of us, regardless of our individual beliefs, benefit from many things that came into existence from actions or institutions that we would otherwise not support. The idea, then, of directing some of us to give up the benefits of modern society without asking the same of themselves is just an example of inflated self-importance.

This is, of course, aside the fact that their claim of the treatments we have now came about because of animal research. It’s more accurate to say that we have as many treatments we have despite animal research. Human testing has always been the last line of research; animals are used initially simply because of economics. And because they are viewed as mere property, conditions to ensure their care are routinely neglected or circumvented, and less stringent oversight is given to invasive procedures. Every day, hundreds of lives are lost in service of projects that have seen no measurable progress; if cures are actually found, foundations, institutions, and researchers would lose valuable grant money. In the most cynical fashion, they sacrifice the lives of animals in pursuit of money, while telling the public that this circular game is necessary, using images of innocent children to win sentimental support.

The real answer to the question “Who would you rather see live?” is quite simple: both.

And it is possible and being proven every day among responsible researchers. Three U.S. agencies aim to end the archaic practice of animal testing, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Toxicology Program and the National Institutes of Health, realizing it is ineffective and wasteful. Non-animal-based research also is more ethical, as it doesn’t have the moral dissonance of taking one life in order to save another. One can only imagine how much further along the road to finding cures we would be if we hadn’t wasted billions of dollars, hours, and lives on animal testing that has proven unreliable or inconclusive. Animal research doesn’t save lives. It won’t save “her,” and we all know what happens to the “rat.”

Cross-posted at the Blog for the Northwest Animal Rights Network

UW Medicine Plans South Lake Union Expansion

12 May

The UW School of Medicine operates biomedical research laboratories inside of the South Lake Union Campus located at 815 Mercer Street. Two buildings of four buildings that comprise the campus, Brotman and Rosen, house animals used for many experiments, from mice and rats, to pigs and dogs. Such “tests” include pumping propane gas into the lungs of mice for an erectile dysfunction study.

The UW has been cited numerous times for animal welfare violations, the most recent case having been a primate that starved to death at the Primate Research Facilty. Despite their deplorable treatment of animals and their consistent track record of violations, they have been given the green light to expand their SLU campus facilities. The National Institute of Health, a publicly-funded government institution, is the primary source of money given to a $516.3 million expansion that will nearly double the size of the campus.

Construction on one $166 million building is scheduled to start next year on land leased from the Vulcan Real Estate company. The university has until 2015 to decide whether to develop the other two buildings.