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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Articles and Reports

The Routine Agony of Neglected Animals in Laboratories
by Michael A. Budkie

Animal experimentation is one of the issues that has galvanized the animal rights movement from its inception. From the Silver Spring Monkeys to Huntingdon life Sciences, the life, suffering and death of rats, mice, rabbits, monkeys, dogs, cats, and guinea pigs commonly imprisoned in our nation’s labs shock and dismay us to our very core.

Our experience of animals shows us that they feel pain, isolation, and stress much as we do. And just as our sensitivities are repulsed by this, so our anger draws us to take action on this issue. We want to do something to end animal experimentation, but at the same time many of us barely have the strength to look at the pictures exposing this violence.

Unfortunately, we cannot fight what we do not truly understand. We cannot oppose this practice if we do not look at it. The suffering of these innocent beings must be our motivation. Their anguish must become our driving force. We can not, we MUST not turn away to spare our own feelings.

When trying to convey the realities of animal experimentation it is difficult to decide where to start. None of the images are pleasant, but some of them are more common.

Tens of thousands of dogs are used in research facilities every year. Beagles are common subjects of experimentation. During 2005 a beagle died at the Ridgefield, Connecticut laboratory of the Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceutical Company. Apparently the cage in which this beagle was incarcerated was not constructed properly and the animal became trapped between the bars and suffocated. No one at this laboratory took action as this animal was dying

At this same facility, one more dog suffered terribly during 2005. On May 4 a USDA inspector found this dog to be “...recumbent and shivering. According to personnel, the animals run a fever at this stage of the study... According to the dog’s medical records, the dog’s weight was 12.9 kg when the study began on 4/5/05 and the dog weighed 9.4 kg on 5/9/05 which is a 27% weight loss in 35 days. The dog experienced elevated body temperatures ranging from 103 to 106 degrees F for 24 to 48 hour periods of time on 4 separate occasions after beginning the study. There were multiple notations in the dog’s record that it did not eat during the febrile episodes.”

An unidentified dog died on July 5th, 2005 within the confines of the laboratories owned by the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In the weeks before this animal's death 41% of body weight was lost. This animal had been vomiting since 3/18, with this symptom listed in the daily care log no less than 7 separate times. This dog is reported to have looked like a walking skeleton. Despite repeated notations of symptoms including vomiting, weight loss, lethargy, lack of appetite and general non-responsiveness over a period of almost four months, no veterinarian was ever contacted. This dog simply wasted away over a four month period until death came... mercifully.

Incidents at other research facilities are no less shocking. Two dogs at the Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, Alabama were the victims of serious negligence during 2005. These dogs were starved for a period of two weeks. During this time one of the dogs lost 38% of his/her body weight, the other 24%. This would be like a 150 pound human losing 57 pounds or 36 pounds respectively over a two week period.

At the Covance laboratory in Pennsylvania food restrictive devices are implanted in dogs and pigs. One dog lost over 30% of body weight over a period of slightly more than two months. No veterinary care was given to this dog and this facility apparently did not even consider this situation to have been one which would cause pain or distress. The Covance laboratory in Vienna, Virginia often denies animals veterinary care, even for broken bones.

In some instances brutality comes not from the results of experiments but simply from the ways in which animals are housed. At Charles River Laboratories in Wilmington, Massachusetts, 48 dogs were housed in a room with enclosures which use something called either “hog flooring” or “tenderfoot flooring.” This material consists of “expanded wire covered with rubber or hard plastic.” This material is very painful for the dogs to walk or even stand on and causes injuries. The USDA inspection report for this facility states: “...many of the animals in room 505 had interdigital lesions consisting of redness, swelling, and fluid drainage. Eight out of ten observed had varying degrees of these lesions — one dog had only a slight swelling on one front limb, while #40006453 had all four paws affected with a mucopurulent material draining from a enlarged lesion on the left rear paw.”

If we are to truly comprehend these images we must personalize them. Replace the references to specific animals above with the name of any dog with whom you have a personal connection, and then re-read the information. The feelings that come over you will bring you to a new understanding of the barbarity of these situations.

While our connection with companion animals like dogs can help us to empathize with the suffering they endure in research facilities, our psychological similarity to primates should allow us to empathize with their imprisoned anguish. Over 120,000 rhesus monkeys, squirrel monkeys, chimpanzees, and others of our closest relatives are imprisoned by/for our nation’s laboratories.

Some of the most recent information about the life of primates in laboratories is truly shocking. Facilities across the United States are subjecting primates to abuses which simply boggle the mind.

During December of 2004 a monkey named Clark was imprisoned at Montana State University. Clark was deprived of adequate access to water a number of times. This situation is not unique. During June of 2005 a primate known only as #607923 lost over 11% body weight while being deprived of water during experimentation at the University of Chicago. This is analogous to a 150 pound human losing 16.5 pounds. Many other laboratories routinely deprive primates of water as a part of one experiment or another. These laboratories include University of California laboratories at Davis, San Francisco, and Los Angeles; Northwestern, the California Institute of Technology, the Salk Institute, Emory, Harvard, Yale, the University of Wisconsin, MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Connecticut, Stanford, the University of Washington and others. A primate recently died at Vanderbilt after the water supply was shut off during renovations.

These facilities and others are known to have committed many other infractions. Boehringer Ingelheim — a pharmaceutical company — had multiple incidents resulting in the torture of primates. Cynomolgous monkey #497 was used in an experiment on September 2, 2004. Two days later all of the skin had sloughed off of both of this primate’s hands due to a thermal injury. As a result, two fingers were amputated several days later. Another incident at this facility caused the death of another primate in 2004. Rhesus monkey #831 died after being left in the cage when the cage washer was turned on. A similar incident had killed another primate at this facility in 2001.

At the Harvard Medical School on July 12, 2004 a primate strangulated on a piece of plastic tubing when left unattended, confined to a restraint chair. At least two research projects at Harvard use water/fluids as a reward for the performance of certain behaviors by primates. During these experiments primates receive liquids only during the time the experiment is underway. If this experiment takes 4 hours per day, then the primates are deprived of water for 20 hours per day.

In June of 2005 animal care technicians at Emory University were observed by a USDA inspector while doing routine blood draws from rhesus monkeys who were confined in restraint chairs. These basic procedures resulted in multiple violations of federal regulations because “The forearms/hands and lower legs/feet of each animal were secured to the frame of the chair with duct tape.”

Most people who have any shred of concern for animals would be aghast after reading the preceding 1400 words which paint such horrific pictures. Shock, anger, even disgust may well be flooding your mind right now. This is the time for you to act. This very minute could be the starting point of your involvement in this issue.

No one should feel powerless when confronted with this kind of information. Knowledge is the first step to action.

Three courses of action exist which should allow you to become involved and effective in making real changes for the animals who are victimized. You must speak out because all of these animals have only our voices.

1. Write to the Secretary of Agriculture, the Office of the Inspector General within the USDA, and the Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs of the Food & Drug Administration. These officials all have the ability to make a real difference. Sample letters to these officials can be found online at:

Letter to the Secretary of Agriculture

Letter to the Food and Drug Administration

Letter to the USDA, Office of Inspector General

2. Write to your federal Senators and Congresspersons asking them to contact these same officials. Remember, right now we are only asking for existing laws to be enforced. This is something that should be easy for these officials to act on.

3. Get actively involved by investigating labs in your area. The Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! website will give you all the tools you need to get started, and methods for investigations are discussed at http://www.all-creatures.org/saen/res-useful.html.  Currently available data on hundreds of research facilities is posted at http://www.all-creatures.org/saen/res-fr.html

These current circumstances will continue as long as people like you and I do nothing. Every activist that gets involved helps to expose the horrific treatment of animals in laboratories and plays a part in bringing about the end of animal experimentation. Take that first step... and then another, and another. Contact SAEN for assistance, saen@saenonline.org.  Thank you for anything and everything you to do help animals in laboratories.


Media coverage we've received on this Issue

Researchers deny poor animal care - 20 Jul 2006
Group says UW ranks high in research animal violations - 11 Jul 2006
UW draws citations over dog's death - 7 Jul 2006
Animal Rights Group Alleges Violations - 5 Jul 2006
Bound and gagged - 5 Jul 2006
SAEN again points to torture at UW Primate Center - 28 Jun 2006

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