Animal advocates are protesting cruel experiments on dogs at Georgia Regents University (GRU) following the release of an undercover investigation that exposed their use in deadly dental experiments.
An investigator from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) documented painful experiments that involved pulling dogs’ teeth out and replacing them with dental implants, before killing them to take samples of their jaw bones. In addition to the cruelty of the experiments themselves other problems were also documented, including the use of underweight dogs, failure to provide appropriate veterinary care to sick animals and failure to provide proper care to other species, including primates and rodents.
Dr. Mark Hamrick, Senior Vice President for Research at GRU issued a statement in response to the investigation and tried to justify the use of dogs by saying they were required by the Food and Drug Administration and that the university uses a vendor that is licensed and inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). He also stated that “The research being done with dogs is neither frivolous nor unnecessary, as alleged by the investigation, and is performed in order to develop safe, effective dental procedures for people.”
The HSUS countered that the research was conducted simply to compare dental implants invented by researchers at GRU with those of a competitor, which isn’t required by law, and has filed a complaint with both the USDA and the National Institutes of Health to investigate the issues. Local animal advocates are also raising their voices for these dogs and are protesting at the College of Dental Medicine over the school’s unnecessary use of animals in this type of research, and at least a few dentists are backing them up.
W. Joseph Pace, Jr., DDS wrote a letter criticizing the use of dogs in an instance where it’s being done not to advance our knowledge, but for financial gain and noted that not only were the experiments scientifically flawed, but also argued that they could have been done on either people or dogs who were suffering from fractured teeth or periodontal disease to help them, instead of causing harm and unnecessarily sacrificing dogs.
The issue is made worse by GRU’s relationship with a questionable Class B dealer. Class B dealers are USDA licensed animal brokers who find and sell dogs and cats to schools and research institutions for a profit. Their methods of acquiring animals range from going to breeders or shelters to answering classified ads for pets and in some cases stealing pets who are left unattended. They also buy animals from “bunchers” who collect animals from random sources.
The dealer working with the university, Kenneth Schroeder, has multiple and serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including obtaining dogs from unauthorized sources but, like others with terrible track records, has yet to be shut down. The HSUS is urging the university to stop working with them.
There has been some progress in the fight to get rid of these dealers with the National Academy of Sciences’ conclusion that they are unnecessary and the NIH’s announcement last year that it will no longer allow federally funded researchers who use animals to obtain cats from Class B dealers, with similar measures to follow for dogs in 2015, but there are still six operating, and other researchers are free to use them.
Please sign and share the petition asking Congress to pass the Pet Safety and Protection Act, which will shut them down for good. While it won’t help all animals used in research, it will help ensure that some pets get a second chance at finding a forever home, instead of ending up as test subjects.
According to the Augusts Chronicle another protest is being organized by Helping Animal Rights Through Education, which will be held December 7.
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