Americans unite against animal testing
A new poll finds 75 percent of Americans support legislation to phase out experiments on dogs and cats and 82 percent support mandatory pain relief for animals used in experiments.
Such relief often is withheld from animals used in research on chemicals, drugs, cosmetics and other products.
Lincoln Park Strategies conducted the survey of 999 people in June, as the U.S. Senate gave final approval to a bill that revamps a 40-year-old federal law regulating the use of chemicals.
The bill places stronger regulations on chemicals in many everyday products. It also contained a section that animal welfare advocates say should dramatically reduce the use of animals in testing chemicals, pesticides, biocides and cosmetics.
President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on June 22.
“The enactment of this Toxic Substances Control Act reform legislation is one of the signature animal protection achievements of this Congress,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.
He said, “These reforms improve the science behind chemical testing, require better safety decisions to protect the environment and human health and reduce the terrible suffering animals endure through dosing them with these poisoning substances. By minimizing animal testing and focusing on the use of faster, cost effective and more reliable testing methods, private companies and the federal government can save lives, time and money.”
BIG, PAINFUL BUSINESS
For now, animal research in the United States remains a big industry.
“The government, academia and private industry must do more to implement human-relevant research methods that spare animals pain and misery … and can actually improve public health,” said Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which publicized the Lincoln Park survey.
PETA also recently criticized the size of a federal fine against a private facility in Texas were 13 primates died of hyperthermia in overheated rooms.
Earlier this summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service announced a $31,500 fine against Covance Research Products in Alice, Texas, for four violations of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act following the 2014 deaths of the monkeys.
The maximum penalty for a single violation of the law is $10,000, so the maximum fine Covance faced was $130,000.
According to the USDA, two animals died in September 2014, when a thermostat malfunctioned at the facility. The other deaths were caused by a similar incident about a month later, when a thermostat override switch failed.
The USDA issued a citation to Covance saying that it “failed to protect the health and well-being” of the animals.
The citation also found other primates suffered in July 2014, when they weren't given water or proper care.
“Covance directed transporters to travel without stopping to the Covance facility, despite being aware that the airline had not provided water as required, that the transport trailers' air conditioning units were malfunctioning and that at least five nonhuman primates were weak and in distress,” the citation said.
PETA said Covance is a “brazen violator” of animal welfare laws and that fines “could and should be substantially higher if they are going to deter violations.”
The company, which has headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey, conducts animal testing in the development of drugs for an array of ailments, from heart disease to diabetes.
PETA says breeds more Covance dogs for experiments than any other U.S. company and annually imports thousands of monkeys.
From the Alice quarantine facility, the monkeys may be shipped to research labs around the country, including to Wisconsin, according to the Stop Animal Exploitation Now, a national watchdog organization.
In 2014, an animal rights group called the Bunny Alliance conducted a protest at Covance's operations in Alice, where activists saw behind barbed wire row after row of “maybe thousands” of cages containing monkeys.
Covance didn't respond to a request for comment.
“Covance takes very seriously our ethical and regulatory responsibilities to treat research animals with the utmost care and respect,” the company said in a statement issued after the primate deaths.
The AP contributed to this report.