An illuminating report by Glenn Greenwald and Leighton Akio Woodhouse of The Intercept entitled “Bred To Suffer,” has shed some much needed light on the animal testing industry and the utter cruelty inflicted upon innocent animals for corporate gains and, many times, absolutely no reason whatsoever.
While Greenwald and Woodhouse focus on the dog experimentation industry, it should be kept in mind that dogs are not the only animals used. Cats, rabbits, monkeys, guinea pigs, rats, are also victims in horrific numbers. Most of these animals are bred for experimentation – never to experience a moment of freedom or kindness – to live a life of extreme torture and, when the torture is done, they are killed for no longer being of use. For these animals, a short existence is the best they can hope for. Dying at birth is a blessing.
While Americans may be rightfully horrified at the Chinese and South Korean dog meat trade (See also Viv Thompson’s article “Torture Not Culture – China And The Dog And Cat Meat Trade,“) there is seldom the same level of indignation expressed at the corporations and universities who routinely use animals for excruciating experiments.
The USDA’s own “Animal Usage Report,” lists that 60,979 dogs were used for experimentation in the United States in 2016. 60 thousand dogs in one year alone. The reported number for all animals was 820,812 (roughly 183k guinea pigs, 139k rabbits, 102k hamsters, 71k non-human primates, i.e. monkeys, 60k dogs, 50k pigs, 18k cats, 12k sheep, 20k other farm animals, and 161k other covered species). Many animals such as fish and birds are not covered under the reporting requirements and thus no numbers exist by which to measure the amount being experimented on. However, estimates range from 20 to 100 million.
2016 saw an increase of animal testing by 6.9 percent as compared to 2015 according to Speaking of Research.
As Greenwald points out, these experiments often do not have anything to do with medical research but instead commercial applications. Dogs, Greenwald writes, provide little to no “unique scientific value” in almost all cases.
As Greenwald and Woodhouse write,
Dogs bred into life for use or sale as experimentation objects have all the same emotional complexities, sensations of suffering and deprivation, and inbred need for human companionship as household dogs which are loved as pets and members of the family. Yet the legalized cruelty and torture to which man’s best friend is subjected for profit in the U.S. is virtually limitless.
In fact, the majority of dogs bred and sold for experimentation are beagles, which are considered ideal because of their docile, human-trusting personality. In other words, the very traits that have made them such loving and loyal companions to humans are the ones that humans exploit to best manipulate them in labs.
Even when legal standards are adhered to — and they often are not — the permitted abuse to which these dogs are subjected is horrifying. They are often purposely starved or put into a state of severe thirst to induce behavior they would otherwise not engage in. They are frequently bred deliberately to have crippling, excruciating diseases, or sometimes are brought into life just to have have their organs, eyes, and other body parts removed and studied as puppies, and then quickly killed.
They are force-fed laundry detergents, pesticides, and industrial chemicals to the point of continuous vomiting and death. They are injected with lethal pathogens such as salmonella or rabies. They have artificial sweetener injected into their veins that causes the dogs’ testicles to shrink before they are killed and exsanguinated. Holes are drilled into their skulls so that viruses can be injected into their brains. And all of that is perfectly legal.
Greenwald and Woodhouse then site Ridglan Farms Inc. which is one of the three largest corporations in the US that provides beagles to research facilities. Ridglan is based in Dane County, Wisconsin, and provides dogs to University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota, and other colleges in the University of California system, according to Direct Action Anywhere.
Last year, activists with DxE snuck into Ridglan’s facilities in order to investigate the conditions and rescue a small group of dogs. The activists who had become hardened after years of seeing animal cruelty cases, were nevertheless horrified. DxE spent a year investigating the facility and the industry as a whole and released their own report.
Wayne Hsiung one of the DxE investigators, told The Intercept, “As you approach the facility, the smell is overwhelming — exactly the same smell from a dog meat slaughterhouse in China.” The first thing the investigators saw upon entering — as demonstrated by the photo at the top of this article — was that “the dogs are housed in huge industrial sheds with massive ventilation fans, very similar to the sheds used in factory farms.” Hsiung, a former lawyer, added in an email:
Thousands of dogs are held in cages, usually 1-2 to a cage and stacked on top of one another, that are about twice the length of the dog’s body. We found no facilities for the dogs to step outside or exercise. The dogs sit on their own feces and urine, unable to escape their own waste. Dogs are routinely so desperate to escape that they slam themselves against the cage walls, desperately stretch their paws through the bars, and sometimes chew on the cages. The screams of the dogs in the facility are so loud that we were forced to yell at one another to communicate, even when we were only a foot away from one another.
Ridglan declined to comment on the Intercept’s questions or to The Intercept.
Surprising Levels Of Experiments Conducted on Dogs
The main law that oversees animal experimentation is the 1966 Animal Welfare Act (aka the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act). Under the law, all forms of experimentation on animals are legally acceptable despite better and more accurate research methods currently in existence. A few states have banned product testing on animals so long as alternatives are available.
The law does require minimal standards of “humane treatment” before the animals are tortured, however. But, even with the rules are complied with, the standards are anything but humane.
One such example is that the standards require that a dogs’ cage be six inches taller than its height and six inches longer than its body length. But, if the “researchers” double the size of the cage, they can avoid the standard that requires the dog to be released from its cage for exercise.
Greenwald and Woodhouse write,
The cruelty even of treatment that complies with legal standards is illustrated by a handbook from one of the field’s most authoritative researchers. The Laboratory Animal Medicine and Science training program series, developed by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, the handbook is designed to create industry norms. Its author is Jerald Silverman, a leading authority figure in the animal research industry.
The handbook describes the proper methods for putting “ear tattoos” on the dogs for identification and tracking purposes. The first picture below is of a “research dog” kept in a cage that is twice the size required by federal regulations, which means, as Silverman notes, that the exercise requirements for the dog are eliminated. The two images below describe the “humane” way for treating research dogs, and the third relates to tattoos:
That means that tens of thousands of dogs are barely able to move. They are fully isolated, with their metal cages stacked on top of one another. Many “research dogs” never see the sunlight, go outside, or exercise, spending their entire lives locked in a cage.
. . . . .
Most dogs used in research are purchased from so-called Class A breeders, which are licensed specifically to breed and raise “research dogs.” (“Class B” dealers are ones who collect or buy animals, rather than breed them themselves.) Among the services they offer is “devocalization,” which the advocacy group NAVS describes as “a surgical procedure which makes it physically impossible for the dog to bark.” The procedure costs $20 to $47 per dog, according to NAVS, and is “performed so that barking dogs do not disturb lab technicians.” The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association details the significant pain and risks from such procedures.
A new group devoted to stopping taxpayer-funded animal research, White Coat Waste Project, created some national news when they exposed horrific practices inside Veterans Affairs facilities earlier this year. “We’re talking about tests like taking six-month-old puppies – putting them on treadmills – forcing them to run. Exhausted dogs, inducing heart attacks, sloppy and botched surgeries, restraint devices, drilling holes in their skulls, destroying their brains and charging taxpayers for it,” one of the group’s founders reported.
Worst of all is that dogs and other mammals provide almost no medical value in experiments because of their physiology. Lawrence Hansen, a professor of neuroscience and pathology at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine, once engaged in experimentation on dogs and wrote how ashamed he was of this work in a 2016 op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune:
From a scientific perspective, the problem is that dogs, monkeys and mice are not simplified versions of humans. This is why the NIH reports that 95 percent of drugs that pass animal tests — often including beagles — fail in humans because they don’t work or are dangerous. … In my specialty, Alzheimer’s disease, the drug failure rate is actually 99.6 percent, and the use of animals has recently been referred to as “a cliff over which people push bales of money.”
One of the most common experimental techniques used on dogs is known as “oral gavage,” used to force animals to ingest substances they otherwise would refuse. The scientific literature, such as this 2015 study from the Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods, defines it as “a technique for delivering a substance directly into the stomach and is frequently used to administer test compounds in research and toxicity testing.”
For those that don’t know, “oral gavage” is the same process used to make foie gras, a dish (bird, goose, or duck) that is force-fed to the point that its liver enlarges to such insane levels that the animal lives in excruciating pain up until the point it is killed.
“As loose and permissive as this legal framework is,” write Greenwald and Woodhouse, “these standards are often flagrantly ignored by many dog breeding and experimentation corporations — with little consequence. Dogs are often mangled, tortured, and killed through sadistic abuse, reckless experimentation, or just sheer negligence.”
Beagles Are The Dog Victim Of Choice
Beagles are without a doubt the favorite of the research labs. As Greenwald and Woodhouse write,
In a dark and twisted irony, what makes them such beloved and kind animals, and particularly well suited for households with small children, is precisely what dooms them to an existence of suffering as objects of experimentations. The National Institutes of Health’s poorly named Office of Research Integrity states the blunt truth: “Most of the dogs used in research are beagles due to their convenient size and docile nature.”
One neuroscience professor who himself experimented on dogs and has since come to regret it, Dr. Lawrence Hansen, wrote an op-ed for the San Diego Tribune where he wrote, “Of all the animals used in research, subjecting dogs to invasive experiments is especially condemnable because humans have selectively bred dogs to unconditionally love the very people who sometimes visit abuses upon them.”
He also states that “I can never repay the karmic debt I incurred by needlessly killing those dogs,” and that “After three decades, I’m still ashamed to say I was once convinced to participate in this betrayal.”
He also describes his training in medical school and how he was instructed to “cut apart and kill dogs” during his schooling. He writes,
Back in medical school, I was instructed to cut apart and kill dogs — a Golden Retriever and a black Lab — for physiology demonstrations and surgical practice. In the latter case, we were made to perform weekly surgeries on the same dogs until the end of the lesson and until, frankly, the dogs couldn’t take any more of the mutilations and we put them out of their misery. I did it, qualms of conscience notwithstanding, because I was told it was “necessary.”
But, while breeding dogs and cats for such a horrible existence is a truly awful act, shelter dogs are also being used as revealed by an investigation initiated by PETA. As the organization states on its website that “PETA’s undercover investigation inside the laboratories of the University of Utah revealed that the school was purchasing homeless dogs and cats from local shelters for use in invasive, painful, and often deadly experiments.”
Indeed, the use of “unwanted and stray” animals for testing has long been advertised in corporate and “scientific” literature.
Both Greenwald and Woodhouse as well as PETA have detailed the history of using beagles in experimentation which can be read in Greenwald’s article.
While Americans have become more dog friendly than ever and most Americans would recoil at the idea of abusing or torturing a pet dog as well as face legal penalties, corporations and universities can do as they like as much as they like with no repercussions whatsoever.
Unfortunately, a combination of ignorance, lack of empathy, and a worship of “science” have all ensured that animal testing doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. In fact, with the Trump administration’s focus on “de-regulation,” it appears that we will see an uptick in the Hitlerian attitude toward animals.
To close this article, I will include a bitter-sweet video of a rescued beagle, rescued by the Rescue Freedom Project, an organization that is devoted to rescuing beagles and other dogs from research labs. The video shows a beagle who was rescued from such a lab, stepping on grass for the very first time.
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Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies,Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria,and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 1,000 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.