News Conference Statement · May 4, 2005
Following the break-in at Spence Labs last November a large
amount of information has been circulated regarding animal experimentation at
the University of Iowa. In February, Stop Animal Exploitation Now launched an
official investigation. I am here today to report on our preliminary findings.
Records from the UI Institutional Animal Care and Use
Committee (IACUC) obtained through Open Records laws reveal a number of
problems regarding animal welfare:
· During a routine inspection UI veterinarian Dr. Mike Parker
observed dogs being kept in dirty cages with little psychological enrichment
and inadequate exercise.
· A USDA inspection revealed animal welfare act violations
during a pig surgery. This exact violation was found in the exact same lab 6
months prior during an inspection conducted by a UI compliance monitor. Despite
the fact that the violation had been detected 6 months earlier, the USDA
inspection reveals that 6 months later, the problem still had not been
· 5 Nonhuman primates were experimented on over and over
again at UI from 1987 - 2003. These poor monkeys were confined in abysmal
conditions for more than 16 years and subjected to repeated experiments.
Records show that the animals were passed from one researcher to the next in
experiment after experiment. The fate of those animals is unknown. Records show
that a letter was sent to the last researcher who had possession of the monkeys
stating that “the animals need to be used within 2 months time and euthanized
or they will be sold to another institution.”
· A disturbing proposal by animal researcher Dr. Douglas
Fredericks (a member of the IACUC) reveals that he is planning a study where
dogs will languish and die in their cages. According to IACUC Meeting Minutes:
“dogs will be monitored 3 times a day for 2 weeks and then once a day until
death.” UI would not release any additional information regarding Dr.
Fredericks’ protocol, which was unanimously approved by the Committee.
· Mice and rats have their necks broken at UI. Instead of
being humanely euthanized, rodents are sometimes killed by what is known as
“cervical dislocation,” a process that is cruel and causes needless suffering.
Records also indicate that in 2003 UI failed to conduct
inspections in compliance with federal law.
· UI received a letter from the NIH Office of Laboratory
Animal Welfare stating that UI’s most recent facility inspections were not
conducted as often as required by federal law. Given the fact that UI failed to
conduct inspections according to the bare minimum required by federal law, one
can only wonder about additional animal welfare violations that are going
undetected in UI labs.
· Federal law also requires that there be at least one
community member on the Committee who is not affiliated with the UI to
represent the community’s interest in animal welfare. However, UI does not have
any standards for how that person will be chosen. The selection process appears
to be based on whether or not the community representative knows someone else
on the committee: “If anyone knows of a non-institutional person (not
affiliated with the University of Iowa) that would like to be a member of the
IACUC, please let either [the Chairman or the Vice-Chairman know].” As members
of the Iowa City community, we do not feel that it is appropriate for Committee
members to look to their friends to serve in a capacity that is intended to
vindicate the animal welfare concerns of the entire community.
The University assures us that all is well within its
laboratories, but it will not allow anyone to look at what is going on inside.
By our lights, the burden of proof is on them to substantiate their claims
about animal welfare. If the University has nothing to hide, they should allow
a reporter to photograph the mice, rats, rabbits, birds, ferrets, dogs, cats,
pigs and nonhuman primates who are being subjected to experiments that are
funded with our tax dollars.
We simply cannot abide by UI’s claims that animals in
laboratories are “extremely well treated.” Animals at UI have parts of their
brains burned with DC current to produce “lesions,” they are intentionally
addicted to drugs, they are “conditioned” with electric shocks, they are
subjected to radiation experiments, they are intentionally infected with
cancer, they endure seizures induced with electricity, they are poisoned in
toxicity tests, and they suffer from a whole host of other painful protocols.
These animals experience the world behind the bars of their cages. This is a
world that they did not create and that they do not understand. They are yanked
from their cages, worked over, and discarded like so much trash. We take no
comfort in reassurances from the people who design and carry out these
experiments that the animals under their care are well-treated. We simply do
not believe that a person who designs a study where dogs have their bones
intentionally broken is qualified to assuage anyone’s concerns about animal
We have had enough of the tired accusation that questioning
animal research constitutes an assault on science. We favor medical progress,
we want people to be healthy and we want researchers who spend our tax dollars
to be held accountable for the way they spend that money. A great deal of
scholarly research shows animal research is misleading, yields information of
limited extrapolative benefit to humans and actually hinders medical progress
by diverting economic and intellectual resources away from methodologies better
suited to curing human disease. We call on the UI to do away with these useless
and counterproductive experiments.
Rats, mice, birds, amphibians and other animals have
been excluded from coverage by the Animal Welfare Act. Therefore research
facility reports do not include these animals. As a result of this
situation, a blank report, or one with few animals listed, does not mean
that a facility has not performed experiments on non-reportable animals. A
blank form does mean that the facility in question has not used covered
animals (primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, pigs,
sheep, goats, etc.). Rats and mice alone are believed to comprise over 90%
of the animals used in experimentation. Therefore the majority of animals
used at research facilities are not even counted.