“Veil of Silence” Over Animal Testing at Vanderbilt

Animal testing at Vanderbilt University is evidently on a need-to-know basis.

Jon Christian, the editor-in-chief of Orbis, the progressive VU newspaper wrote about what he called the “veil of silence” over Vanderbilt’s animal testing program.

According to Christian, university staff associated with animal testing “quickly terminated” their phone calls with him, refused to return his messages, and everyone says they are prohibited from talking with the press.

There is only one person at VU authorized to speak to the press, and he does so by press releases and official statements.

The only person who agreed to speak with Christian was a board member from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and she did so only under condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Everyone assured Christian the conditions of animals in the VU laboratories were at the industry standard, even the anonymous IACUC board member.

But VU has been fined for Animal Welfare violations three years in a row.

People associated with the VU animal testing department cited the threat of activism by the Animal Rights community as a reason for keeping their information under lock and key. But does an institution that receives public funds have the luxury of opacity? The public has a right to knowledge of how its taxpayer dollars are being spent.

In the process of writing his story, an official who refused to identify himself ordered Christian out of a building in which he was taking photographs, even though he legally had the right to be there and take photographs. Researchers were warned about Christian and told not to speak to him.

So why does Vanderbilt not want the public to know what goes on in their laboratories? Are they worried that even if they really were conforming to industry standards for the treatment of their animals (their AW violations says otherwise) that the public would see that even the industry standard is still horrifying.

The truth is there is no way to test on animals that isn’t cruel, horrifying and unnecessary. Laboratories have a vested interest in opacity, as it keeps the public unaware of the callous nature of their experiments. If the public were aware of how their public funds were being spent to torture animals, would they so willingly support Vanderbilt? It’s doubtful.

Any industry that tortures and kills animals will benefit from hiding the details from us, but opacity is a luxury they don’t deserve. And transparency is their responsibility to the public.

Photo: pvera


Vivian Gu
8 years ago

I agree! They no right to use the taxpayer's money to torture animals!

Ida Nieves
Maria N8 years ago

Only evil exists within a person who can subject an animal to any form of test/experiment. There is no medical gain for the human race by testing on animals it is a fallacy.

Loretta P.
Loretta P8 years ago

VU treatment toward Christian substantiate their clandestine action. I'd like to see Christian take his efforts to a national newspaper to expose VU animal welfare violations and start a firestorm about what's really going on there. National exposure would get attention. Animal testing is bad enough; cruelty generating violations is abhorrent.

Helene B.
Helene B8 years ago

I would just love to tie up these coward imbeciles, tear their guts out, leave them to suffer all night, then burn down the horror chamber.

Juno R.

Yes Sarah Lee is right! Go to leapingbunny.org to find companies that are cruelty free. Every time you purchase something you are voting either for or against animal cruelty. I am Juno and I was rescued along with 119 other beagles and 55 primates from a testing laboratory in New Jersey. So do the right thing and STOP buying products that are tested on animals. If the product does not say "Not Tested On Animals" right on the label it IS tested on animals like me. Most mainstream cosmetics and household products ARE tested on us poor creatures... Including shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, makeup, hair spray, dish, laundry and other soaps, bleach, cleaning products, fertilizer and other lawn care products and many many more things. Please stop cause you are killing us....

David M.
David M.8 years ago

Please note: the e-mail address I included below is apparently 'not valid' (suspicious?). Will try to e-mail Medical School at Vanderbilt directly.

David M.
David M.8 years ago

Have e-mailed above article (ommitting references to the anonymous board member) to Animal Welfare Assurance Officer at: iacuc.submission@vanderbilt.edu

Monique Freericks

This is sick and sad.

Karen Tucker
Karen Tucker8 years ago

Torturing animals by using them in experiments is horrific and uncalled for. Research labs using animals SHOULD BE shut down permanently AND banned from ever opening their doors again.

John D.
John D8 years ago

Just once, the test that are performed on animals should be performed on the people who perform the test on animals..., just may stop the practice.