Vet School Defends Live Dog Labs

You wouldn't think a veterinarian would have to say, "I love animals." After all, doctors don't say, "I love people." But in 200 email messages to the Daily O'Collegian, the Oklahoma State University (OSU) student newspaper, that's just what vets and vet students are saying to defend the vet school's live dog labs.


Seems Madeleine Pickens, wife of billionaire T. Boone Pickens, was about to gift the university's Center for Veterinary Health Sciences $5 million until she learned of the repeat and terminal surgeries performed on man's best friend in its labs and withdrew the largesse.

What she failed to understand, wrote irate vet students and faculty, was the only major organs removed in dog labs are reproductive ones!

The dogs -- amassed by Class B dealers from pounds and surrendering owners -- would be euthanized anyway!

Those "allowed to be recovered from anesthesia after organ removal" (which is to say not killed) are given pain meds!

Dogs not "allowed to be recovered from anesthesia after organ removal" don't need pain meds!

All Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee regulations are followed! (see: room temperature; cage size; drinking water available.)

And dogs are sometimes given treats before the Big Sleep!

Even the vet school dean, Michael Lorenz, weighed in with a statement that, "No more than two surgeries are performed on any dog," -- whew! -- and that, "Terminal dog surgeries are used at the majority of the United States veterinary colleges."

Gee, Mom. All the kids do it.

Of course veterinarians have always had to fight appearing like they love some animals more than others since so many of them eat the "patients."

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) supports the "use of animals in research, testing, and education," and takes no public stand against trophy, canned hunting and child hunting. And, before heading the AVMA, Ron DeHaven presided over the killing of 87,000 coyotes, 6,000 foxes, and 2,500 bobcats a year as USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) administrator.

But University of California researchers are also having image problems.

A cabal of animal researchers in Santa Cruz and Berkeley is asking for public sympathy and free law enforcement protection for their animal experiments while refusing to disclose what exactly the experiments are, their purpose or who they are.

The reason they want anonymity, say researchers, is the public can't adequately judge science. Experiments that may look gory and cruel like the UCLA researcher who makes a midline incision in a live vervet monkey's skull and drills 1.5mm-diameter holes for screws to give it "deep brain stimulation" could be taken the wrong way. Especially when the monkey becomes "acutely agitated," defecating and urinating during the experiment.

In fact the researchers, many funded through the tax-supported National Institutes of Health, have a lot in common with Wall Street bankers. They want public money but don't want to have to explain their work, account for their spending or even show results -- like the Northwestern researcher who has decorticated cats for 18 years. Do you know where your cat is?

No wonder researchers want animal advocates who demonstrate at their homes and reveal their identities silenced like the foursome the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested in February under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Kill the messenger!

To prove that it's no longer safe to do whatever you want to animals in the name of science, researchers like to cite the case of Dario Ringach, an assistant professor of psychology and neurobiology at the University of California at Los Angeles who said he renounced animal research because of protests.

"You win," wrote Ringach in a 2006 email announcing he would cease animal experiments including ones in which macaque monkeys are paralyzed, have coils glued to her eyes during a 120 hours procedure and subsequently killed says UCLA PrimateFreedom.

But Ringach's compatriots need to do better research.

In the January 12, 2009 Nature Neuroscience, Ringach reports an experiment in which he and three other authors record spikes and local field potentials "from multi-electrode arrays that were implanted in monkey and cat primary visual cortex."

Seems it was a short renunciation.

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