Amer­i­cans unite against an­i­mal test­ing

Wisconsin Gazette - - Front Page - By Lisa Neff Staff writer

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.

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