By Susan J. Boutwell The Valley News
October 16, 2008 - 12:00 am
A small group of animal rights activists from Concord set up shop
at the edge of the Dartmouth College Green yesterday, holding signs
objecting to the use of monkeys by a college professor whose brain
research includes tests on the primates.
Four protesters from the New Hampshire Animal Rights League timed
their demonstration to coincide with what the national group Stop
Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN) has declared "national primate
"It's important to let everyone know what's going on at
Dartmouth," said Linda Dionne, president of the New Hampshire group.
Dionne's group doesn't condone research testing on any animal
species, she said.
A student organization concerned with the treatment of animals -
the Dartmouth Animal Welfare Group, or DAWG - declined to
participate in the low-key demonstration, Dionne said, not wanting
to sour its relationship with a college committee that oversees the
care and use of animals in research and teaching.
Yale Cohen, the Dartmouth professor the rights group targeted,
didn't want to be interviewed yesterday. Instead, he put out a
statement through a college spokesman.
Cohen said animals used in his "work are under constant
veterinary care to preserve and foster their health and well-being,
and there is also constant veterinary supervision of my work."
He wrote that his studies involve "mechanisms underlying aspects
of social cognition that are known to be important in humans for
processing socially-relevant stimuli." The research might provide
data used to treat such conditions as autism, schizophrenia and
Asperger's syndrome, according to Cohen.
Dionne said her group focused on Cohen because they had found a
research paper by him on the internet.
"Cohen is the name that seems to pop out most often, but there
are other researchers" at Dartmouth using animals, she said.
She and others mentioned Cohen's name to passersby who stopped at
their information table, asking students if they knew the professor.
Dionne said restraint methods used on research monkeys are
"barbaric" and "like something out of the Dark Ages" but she had no
information on Cohen's research methods.
She said she had hoped to find out about the care of monkeys in
Cohen's lab at a meeting the protestors thought they were having
with college officials. They had expected DAWG to arrange the
meeting but that never happened, Dionne said.
Dartmouth spokesman Roland Adams Jr. said the college had
received no request for a meeting. And a message left on the DAWG
website was not answered.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service monitors the use of animals in research
facilities. In 2007, the most recent year for which USDA reports are
available, Dartmouth used more than 900 animals in research,
including 265 hamsters, 243 pigs and 277 vole .
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