AR-News: Boston Globe Magazine cover story on Tufts terminal dog
rumsiki at netvision.net.il
Mon Apr 19 23:22:47 EDT 2004
Sent: Monday, April 19, 2004 7:57 PM
Subject: FW: DawnWatch: Boston Globe Magazine cover story on Tufts terminal dog experiments 4/18/04
Original from: Karen Dawn [mailto:KarenDawn at dawnwatch.com]
Boston Globe Magazine cover story on Tufts terminal dog experiments 4/18/04
The cover of the Sunday, April 18, Boston Globe Magazine reads, "When should animals die in the name of science?"
The story inside, by Douglas Starr, headed "A Dog's Life," opens:
"When scientists at the Tufts veterinary school fractured the legs of six dogs to see how they healed, and then euthanized the dogs, all in the name of research, the ensuing outcry reopened the argument over how far is too far when it comes to using animals to advance medicine."
The article offers good information and makes important points. What I dislike about it is the notion it furthers that the lives or suffering of these six dogs matters more than the suffering of other animals who die in laboratories -- the millions of rodents, for example, who are not even covered by the laws aimed at protecting laboratory animals from undue suffering. I hope, therefore, that letters to the editor from animal activists will address the suffering of all laboratory animals, not just dogs.
The story centers on the activism of four students at the Center for Animals and Public Policy at the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine:
"Last fall, all four - (Tara) Turner, Dana Zenko, Diana Goodrich, and Michelle Johnson - had volunteered for a program in which students walk dogs kept on campus for practice in noninvasive clinical exams. One day, they noticed some other dogs in a kennel marked 'Do not touch.' These animals, they discovered, were part of a study to learn whether loosening an external metal splint at a certain point in the healing process causes bones to heal faster and stronger. The process, called dynamization, had long been anecdotally observed but needed a definitive study, according to vet-school faculty members. Professors Randy Boudrieau and Karl Kraus planned to perform an osteotomy, or surgical fracture, on both hind legs of the anesthetized dogs, and treat one leg with a tight splint and the other with a loosened splint. The final step would require euthanizing the dogs so the researchers could stress-test the bones and microscopically examine the bone cells."
"Something about this did not seem right to the four women, especially given their school's reputation. Recruiting about two dozen like-minded veterinary students, they met with the school's Animal Welfare Committee, a student-faculty group that oversees the well-being of animals on campus. The committee's chairwoman, Dr. Alicia Karas, a noted veterinary anesthesiologist, explained to the students the purpose of the research and the great lengths taken to minimize the dogs' pain....The faculty saw the meetings as a teaching opportunity - a chance to explain the complexities of animal research. The students saw the meetings as a chance to win the research dogs a reprieve. If only they could suggest another endpoint to the researchers - such as a bone scan or other high-tech detection device - they thought they might have a chance at saving the dogs' lives. In early December, Kirker-Head invited them to submit an alternative proposal, although, he warned them, its chances of success were slim."
The dogs were killed.
The long and detailed article offers some interesting information on shifts within the veterinary profession. The profession was traditionally male, and set up to treat 'farm animals.' The farmed animal industry was the main employer. The now outdated anti animal welfare policies of the American Veterinary Medical Association reflect that core. But we learn:
"As Americans moved away from farms, vets became more small-animal centered. Today, a majority of the vets in practice work primarily on family pets....The profession has also become strikingly more female. A recent census of the profession...found that 70 percent of veterinary students were women....At last summer's annual meeting of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the membership challenged the all-male, middle-aged executive board on several animal-protection issues. Members succeeded in passing a resolution to investigate more humane housing for pigs."
And there is enlightening information about pound seizure laws -- laws that ban the selling (for a nominal fee) of dogs from pounds to laboratories. Since specially bred laboratory dogs suffer just as much, the laws seemed to me to do little more than make people dropping family members at the pound feel better about the choice. However, according to this article, such laws reduce the number of dogs used in research:
"When, in the 1980s, Massachusetts and other states repealed pound seizure laws that allowed pounds to sell animals to researchers, labs had to start buying expensive dogs bred for research use."
But then there is this paragraph:
"Scientists developed substitutes for animals, such as software that mimics biological processes and plasticized models of animal organs. Furthermore, as genetics becomes the centerpiece of medicine, researchers are shifting from companion-sized animals to laboratory-engineered mice to study disease."
To the extent that the pound dogs are replaced by rodents there is no overall reduction in suffering. But if they are replaced by non animal research, the laws have a wonderful effect.
There is a nice quote from Steve Wise, regarding the use of animals in experiments to help animals: "You'd never euthanize some human patients to help others."
Because of enlightened stances in some fields, such as against the use of wild animals in circuses, there are those in the animal abuse industries who have tried to paint the Humane Society of the United States as an animal rights organization, closely aligned with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Quotes from Andrew Rowan, chief of staff at HSUS, should clarify that organization's position "for now" as more welfare than rights:
"Most universities see the animal- research issue as one big negative. No matter how much they explain things, typically the story comes out that 'those bad people are torturing dogs.'"
"We look forward to the day when we can put an end to using animals in research, but for now we're focusing on achievable goals."
Starr explains "those goals include promoting the 'Three R's' outlined in the Animal Welfare Act, the federal law that regulates the care and use of lab animals - replacing or reducing animal experimentation wherever possible and refining the research to minimize suffering."
A worthy short-term goal, I believe. But he is citing the Animal Welfare Act, not the animal rights act.
You can read the whole article on line at: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2004/04/18/a_dogs_life/
It provides a great opportunity for anti vivisection letters to the editor. The Magazine section takes letters at: magazine at globe.com
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it at www.DawnWatch.com. To subscribe to DawnWatch, email KarenDawn at DawnWatch.com and tell me you'd like to receive alerts. If at any time you find DawnWatch is not for you, just let me know via email and I'll take you off the subscriber list immediately. If you forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts, please do so unedited, leaving DawnWatch in the title and including this tag line.)
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