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24 June 2001 Issue
Texas Floods Drown 30,000 Caged Animals

Source - In Defense of Animals

From Artemisd123@hotmail.com 

During the weekend of June 9 and 10, more than 30,000 mice, rats, dogs, and primates used in research at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical School at Houston were left to drown in their cages as floodwaters in the city of Houston, Texas, rose. [When fully

counted, 78 monkeys, 18 adult dogs, 17 puppies and several hundred rabbits were among the dead animals in the basement, which housed the center's main animal care facility, as well as mice, rats, and rabbits.]

Apparently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) allows research institutions in flood-prone regions to warehouse animals in basements without providing a plan for their evacuation in the event of flooding. NIH also consistently promises to reimburse such institutions for "losses," thereby removing any incentive for properly caring for the tens of thousands of animals in the researchers' possession.

Animals are not dust mops or office supplies, and NIH must not allow them to be stored in basements. NIH should also require federally funded institutions to have a plan for the evacuation of animals in the event of emergencies such as fire, flooding, etc. What's more important, NIH must require these institutions to have animal care personnel on hand at all times.

No one can reasonably argue that with an annual budget of $310 million and $60 million, respectively, Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical School at Houston couldn't afford a security guard! Human patients at the Texas Medical Center were not left to drown in their beds! Animals used in research should Be afforded the same consideration.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Please write NIH's director and demand that the agency require institutions to file an evacuation plan, house animals above ground, and hire personnel to monitor animals 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Please also write your senators and representatives and ask that

oversight hearings be held on this issue.

Dr. Ruth L. Kirschstein, Director

National Institutes of Health

9000 Rockville Pike

Bethesda, MD 20892

Fax: 301-402-2700

kirschsr@od1tm1.od.nih.gov

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Let's also encourage the university to switch to non-animal and more humane research by sending the following letter, or one similar but in your own words:

Address letters to the following:

Ralph D. Feigin, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer

Baylor College of Medicine

One Baylor Plaza

Houston, TX 77030

Fax: 713-798-8811

rfeigin@bcm.tmc.edu 

James W. Patrick, Ph.D., Vice President and Dean for Research

Baylor College of Medicine

One Baylor Plaza

Houston, TX 77030

Fax: 713-798-5902

jpatrick@bcm.tmc.edu 

James T. Willerson, President

University of Texas, Health Science Center

P.O. Box 20036

Houston, TX 77225-0036

Fax: 713-500-3026

James.T.Willerson@uth.tmc.edu 

*Date*

Dear *_________* ,

First, I would like to express my sympathies regarding the great loss of life in the form of the animals who drowned during the flooding which resulted from Tropical Storm Allison on 16 June 2001.

At this time, with animal cages empty and remodeling of laboratories necessary, I would like to suggest that this is an exceptional time to move your university in to the 21st century by implementing innovative humane methods of research. As the book 'The Principles of Humane Experimental Techniques' pointed out in 1959, humane methods of research call for the reduction, refinement and replacement of animals in scientific research.

Currently, there are a multitude of valid alternatives to using animals in biomedical research. Many research techniques which do not use live animals have proven to be much more reliable and less costly than their inhumane counterparts - research techniques which do use live animals.

As you likely know, the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at John's Hopkins University has an extensive database on-line at http://www.altwebsearch.com and expert advisors who would be able to guide you about current, cutting-edge humane research techniques.

You are in a unique position at this time to recoup and redirect your university's research. Instead of replacing the animals who drowned with other sentient and vulnerable live animals, and starting over collecting data, I implore you to seek to improve research overall, and the nature of research techniques by replacing live animals.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration,

Sincerely,

*Your name*

cc: Ruth Kirschstein, Acting Director

National Institutes of Health

9000 Rockville Pike

Bethesda, MD 20892

Fax: 301-402-2700

kirschsr@od1tm1.od.nih.gov 

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