Beagle followup – The truth about animal testing

2182GirlBeagleThe first Beagle went home a few days ago. Isn’t that amazing? Watching him through the window of the car as his caretakers took him to his forever home was incredibly heartwarming.

Shortly after the Beagles arrived here I surfed the highways and byways of the Internet and found some blogs where we were being discussed. Pets Alive has enemies and detractors online who seek to tear us down. They also seek to harm me as well. Shrug. Whatever. We all know what PA does and that while I can be a jerk I do the best I can and let my moral compass lead me. That’s really all anyone can ask of me or anyone else.

There’s one blog in particular (I absolutely won’t mention the name because then all of you will go look and give the site traffic, which I don’t want to happen) that despises me and Pets Alive, and therefore you too because you ARE Pets Alive. They accused us (as they always do) of “using” the Beagles to get donations. Sigh. I’m so tired of hearing this. Yes, we got donations. But that’s not why we did this. Duh. We did this to save the animals. That kind of prattle I’m used to.

1681SoScared

Where I was a little more surprised was that people, on animal-related blogs, were actually defending the animal testing companies. Here’s some of what was said:

Will you be prosecuting the lab owners for animal cruelty…as you wold if this were a “regular” rescues.. how do you know some of these animals “never felt a human touch” .. or “never walked on grass”..’ nor “seen the sun”.. these are emotional pleas that we see everyday from HSUS as they conspire to remove animals from our possession and ownership.. every rescue is the “worst we have ever seen”.. and “horrendous”.. while I have no doubts that these dogs needed new homes.. your pleas ring false when some of us who have been following “rescues” for some time see the same thing over and over again… and really “stuff’ injected into them?? not very scientific….they could have had water injected.. you and I are not sure .. so why mention it.. we all know why..I think people would be more sympathize ( those of us who know what is happening) if your please were more honest.. instead of the same verbiage every time a dog is “rescued”

Again will these people be prosecuted/// will Pets Alive bring charges?? Will you have proof of your claims of no sun, never a human hand.. etc..and does that constitute actual cruelty?

1526JustOutOfLabI was flabbergasted. ACTUAL CRUELTY? Uh…keeping them insolated in cages 24/7, injecting them with foreign substances, only touching them with Tyvek suits on. ACTUAL CRUELTY? Are you freaking insane? I think so. And they want ME to prove what I am saying. I was absolutely amazed. But wait…it gets worse:

castrating healthy normal dogs is OK.. but other forms of “abuse” are not??.. many times I have injected water into my own dogs.. to hydrate them.

Yowza. Lucky dogs. I just give them water using the tongue/bowl method. CASTRATING? Wow. These people are nuts. But here’s where I think the train went FLYING off the tracks:

Your theories about “substitution” for animal testing don’t hold water Matt. But at least it give us an idea about where you are coming form as far as animal RIGHTS are concerned..There is plenty of “info” all right… none of it scientific.. plenty from PETA though..

I bolded those words because they’re going to become very important in a few paragraphs.

many of us a happy to see the dogs in new homes.. it is how they get there that is disturbing.. your comments and accusations about abuse,, no sun.. no grass.. etc.. all lead to people thinking that ALL labs are like this.. and I can see by your personal comment that you believe this to be true..however many of us support animal research as we all know it SAVES LIVES.. and not only human ones.but animal lives too.

2271BeagleMania

Yep, this person touches on the two main arguments used by people who are pro-animal testing:

1. Animal research saves lives.
2. There are no real substitutions for testing on animals.

The third reason usually given is that no unnecessary suffering occurs. I reject that one out of hand. Treating these animals the way they were treated by this lab causes them suffering. End of conversation. (By the way, that data is from a research survey. You can find it here.

The next trick is that this particular person pointed everyone to a list of Frequently Asked Questions on animal testing myths. Right at the top it says Last updated 15 October 2000. Ten year old data. Yeah, perfect.

2232SafeThere are people who are animal people who reluctantly agree with the two assertions above. Animals can be tortured and disposed of because animal research saves lives and it’s the only way to do things.

Both assertions are false.

What if I told you that a group of 10 well-known doctors and researchers in the UK did a systematic review of animal studies of drugs vs. clinical trials (tests on people) of the same drugs and came up with a 50% correlation between the two studies? That means that only 50% of the time the studies came to the same conclusion. That may seem high, but think about it. If you flip a coin and yell “tails” there is a 50% chance you will be right. And no animals will be harmed or killed.

Yeah, but these are quacks and this is a study that has been discredited, right? Let me guess…they picked the studies that supported their hypothesis, right?

Wrong. These are respected researchers and physicians. Their findings were published in the British Medical Journal, the UK version of the Journal of the American Medical Association. In fact, if you peruse the footnotes (I did), you will find references to JAMA, the most respected medical journal in the world. That also means the findings had to be reviewed by other physicians.

It is a very interesting article. Kinda tough for a layman to read, but interesting. If you want to plod through it it’s here.

Let me hit the high notes for you:

1. A team of ten researchers concentrated on studies where there was unambiguous evidence of a treatment effect (benefit or harm) in clinical trials: head injury, hemorrhage, stroke (two different types), neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, and osteoporosis.

2. They then pulled every animal study they could find in each category and carried out a systematic review of the corresponding animal experiments. They carried out their systematic reviews in accordance with the recommended methods for health technology assessment.

3. Below are the outcomes. I list the results of the clinical trials on humans, the results of the animal testing, and the results of me flipping a coin, heads for benefit, tails for no benefit:

Study People Animals Coin Flip
Head Injury No benefit Benefit No Benefit
Hemmorage Benefit Benefit No benefit
Stroke 1 Benefit Benefit Benefit
Stroke 2 No benefit Benefit No benefit
Neonatal Mortality Benefit No benefit No benefit
Osteoporosis Benefit Small Benefit Benefit

So in this case flipping a coin would give better results matched against the human testing then animal testing did. And that’s exactly what Dr. Marius Maxwell, MD, PhD, Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard said in the Guardian Newspaper in the UK:

An article published in December in the British Medical Journal (the latest in a long series of similar skeptical studies) suggests that using animal-based drug testing to predict human outcomes is no more accurate than tossing a coin. The study found that only half of the categories examined actually succeeded in predicting the results of subsequent human trials, and even then, “the quality of the experiments was poor”.

I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Maxwell today. He is a successful Neurosurgeon who makes his home in Switzerland while practicing in the US. To my delight Dr. Maxwell is also a Pit Bull afficionado, something we share.

167VolunteerShyDog

There’s really no disputing these facts. If you pick drug studies at random (there were many, many studies picked for this paper), only about half of them work against clinical studies.

So that blows our #1 assertion above out of the water, and not with anecdotal data. With solid facts from a solid study. You can read it for yourself. If the studies don’t reliably correlate to human studies then there’s no way to reliably save lives using animal testing. Dr. Maxwell has been waiting for a scientific refutation of the paper that was published in the UK, but one has not been forthcoming.

So what about the second assertion, that there’s no other way but animal testing? Dr. Maxwell was kind enough to include another document for me to read.

It was published by the Dr. Hadwen Trust for Humane Research and the Humane Society International.

Absolutely fascinating. You can read it for yourself here. It’s called Opportunities for the Replacement of Animal Experiments.

Here…this is on the first page. Let this sink in for a second:

Medical research and safety testing are responsible for the suffering and death of more than 115 million sentient animals globally each year.

Sentient. Remember that word? Sentience is the ability to feel or perceive. You know, #3 that we discounted right off the bat? There’s no unnecessary suffering. UNNECESSARY SUFFERING. Does that mean that some suffering is necessary? If you are sentient you suffer. Guess that’s necessary. Sigh.

So let’s move on to there are no alternatives. Here are some:

  • Gene-hunting tools to find and understand the role of disease-causing genes in people
  • Cell and molecular tests for the safety of chemicals
  • Biosensors that synergise cell research with microelectronics, to study drug metabolism, toxicity and disease biomarkers
  • Ultra-sensitive analytical techniques allow safe, ethical, microdose studies of drugs and chemicals without
    animal tests, and can enhance safety in the workplace
  • Advanced microscopic techniques for imaging and analysing cell functions in health and disease
  • High-powered computer models that realistically simulate the human body, and its reactions to medicines and chemicals
  • Tissue engineering that re-creates three-dimensional human tissues in the test-tube, for disease research, drug development and safety testing
  • High-technology, safe imaging of the human brain to understand neurological disorders and drug effects on the brain
  • Molecular methods to study disease using human cells in the test-tube.

Check these out. They are some of the in vitro (cell culturing) alternatives to animal testing that are REAL and available either now or soon:

  • ACuteTox – an in vitro test strategy for predicting human acute toxicity
  • BioSim – using modern simulation techniques to create a more rational drug development process and a reduction in animal experiments.
  • carcinoGENOMICS – to develop in vitro methods for assessing the carcinogenic potential of substances.
  • Sens-it-iv – to develop test-tube alternatives to animal tests for assessing chemicals that may cause
    skin or lung allergies.
  • ReProTect – to explore the field of reproductive toxicology in order to reduce the number of animals used.
  • PREDICTOMICS – short-term test-tube assays to predict long-term toxicity.
  • liintop – optimisation of liver and intestine cell studies for pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics studies.
  • TOXDROP – highly parallel cell cultures in nanodrops, a new format for cellbased toxicity assays to replace mice.
  • Biosensors Based on Molecular Organization – development and validation of alternative techniques to replace animal testing in drug screening and environmental control protocols.
  • VITROCELLOMICS – reducing animal testing of drugs by use of human cells.
  • INVITROHEART – reducing animal experimentation in drug testing by using human cells.
  • Comics – will provide in vitro assays for screening chemicals for genetic toxicity and so help limit animal testing.

2243KarenIntakeSo, Matt…
WHAT CAN I DO?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Here you go….

1. Refute the crap that’s out there with these facts. For example, in 2000 (the year that FAQ was published that I mention above) there were not the same sophisticated computer models, simply because the computers weren’t as powerful. According to Moore’s Law, computing capacity doubles roughly every 18 months. The fastest computer in 2000 operated at 64 GFLOPS, where today’s operates at 4640 GFLOPS. (Giga Floating Point Operations per Second). That means more programs and models can be created.

2. Don’t let people get away with saying there are no alternatives. Read up on it and spread the word.

3. Explain to people that animal testing is inaccurate and unncessary. Arm yourself with the facts.

4. Seek out and avoid companies that still test on animals and tell them why. There is a great list here at Caring Consumer. You will be surprised at who is on here.

5. SPREAD THE WORD. Go to the SHARE area below and send this to someone. Now. Put it on Facebook. Tweet it. Stumbleupon it. Post it somewhere. LET PEOPLE KNOW THEY’RE GETTING FED BS.

6. Learn. Here are some resources:
New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS)
Voice for Ethical Research at Oxford (some great articles here)

Thanks to Dr. Maxwell for taking the time to enlighten me. He’s awesome.

Remember….now that you know you speak for 115 million souls a year, and as we say…

YOU ARE ALL THEY HAVE.

Matt

Filed in Animal Rescue, Animal Testing by Admnistrator on Jul 13, 2010.  There are 9 Comments

9 Responses to “Beagle followup – The truth about animal testing”

  1. Kristie Hendricks Says:

    Thanks for this Matt. Thank you for puting so much inforamation for us in one place. I am glad to have it and I WILL share it.

    The people that feel these Beagles were not an animal cruelty case, Were you there? Did you meet them? Did you SEE their reaction to the sun and to the grass? NO?? Well I did. I was there and let me tell you, THIS WAS INFACT THE FIRST TIME! The first time to feel the sun on thier faces, feel the grass beneath thier paws, to feel loving human contact. All of which things EVERY dog deserves!

    Pets Alive may have gotten donations, but please remember that they operate by donations. The Beagles are not the only animals there. They have many other dogs, many cats, horses, goats and a bird. They have to care and maintain these animals daily. The donations they received will be put to good use. Every single penny will be used to support the care of the animals there, and also at Pets Alive Westchester!!

    I love you all at Pets Alive!!! These people that are making these comments are NOT the real deal. WE ARE!!!!

  2. Lisa Spadaro Says:

    Thank you Matt for ALL you do and for explaining this situation further. As Kristie stated, YOU people who are writing negative comments were NOT there to see – I too was there and agree 100% w/ Kristie – these dogs couldn’t even walk on the grass! We need more people like Matt and Pets Alive to get the word straight and out there and to save more and more pets!! For those who do not understand, take a tour of Pets Alive and then talk!!! I am proud to own a dog from Pets Alive, and very proud to volunteer my time. THANK YOU MATT and all at Pets Alive. Please keep up the good work!!Lisa

  3. Daniela Regier Says:

    RE:
    many times I have injected water into my own dogs.. to hydrate them.

    It’s a acceptable medical treatment – I have had to inject water (ie administer subcutaneous fluids) for my cat when he was suffering from kidney damage. It’s not fun, and I don’t think he enjoyed it but it wasn’t harmful and it extended his life 3 years.

    I am glad you guys got those beagles out and that the are now enjoying their forever homes. Looks like for 120 beagles and 55 monkeys the recession was the best thing that happened to them.

  4. Sharmaine & Anthony Says:

    Matt,

    People will always have something to say about what it is that we do. Most of the time, when you get the a lot of opposition when following your heart, that is when it is truly the most fulfilling and quite honestly what you feel is the right thing to do. We all really appreciate what you, the staff and volunteers, and all the other animal shelters do.

    NEWSFLASH! ALL NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS OPERATE ON DONATIONS! Without them, the Red Cross would not be able to help victims of Haiti, the homeless people, St. Judes Children Hospital would not be able to help these children who are in dire need of medical attention, etc.

    Being lucky enough to be able to adopt one of the 120 beagles truely makes us constantly wonder, how could anyone hurt these caring, loving and simply amazing animals? Watching Sammie run around the house, stretching out on her bed, learning how to walk up and down stairs for the first time. That is truly rewarding and very heart warming.

    Animal testing is really unnecessary, ESPECIALLY when there are more accurate alternatives. Yes, it might be more advanced in technology which could result in higher cost, but look what less damage you could do? Look at the more accurate results you can get! If you do not invest, you will not get the rewards and results. Technology is advancing at an astounding rate, either we move with it, take full advantage of it, or we get stuck in the stone age and continue to fail.

  5. Erin Says:

    Matt, why waste your time fuming over and refuting the arguments of someone who clearly doesn’t even take the time to proofread his or her own work? The author’s lack of attention to detail speaks to his or her credibility as a source of information. Not to mention the whole FAQs from 2000 thing. (side note – how did 2000 become 10 years ago!?!)

  6. BJ Says:

    Abandoning them to starve to death would seem to constitute cruelty and be prosecutable.

    However, in some locations the legal system may decline to prosecute or may negotiate some other compromise that results in the individual or company getting off, more or less, and the animals being released for adoption. It doesn’t slam the folks that did wrong, but it does get the animals into safety.

    I guess I can be OK with the animals getting to safety.

    I would _really_ like to see the names of the company officials blasted accross the media for leaving the animals to die for starvation. I think they are more than due some bad press! But … that may have been one of the negotiating points for the animals’ release.

  7. Wanda Says:

    My time at Pets Alive has been thus far a tremendous experience. Working side by side with volunteers that share a passion such as yours is incredible. There is nothing like it. It is not something you do for self gratification but for the eyes that look deep into your soul. It is done for the ones without a voice, where the words thank you can not come from their lips but come from a look, a wagging tail or a lick, which is their kiss. The beagle rescue transformed your heart even further. The moment you had them in your arms and felt their heart beating, you knew something good was really going to come of this. Criticism, yes there is always some of it, it comes with the territory. people will be people and you can’t please them all of the time, but it goes back to what I said before. “it is not done for self gratification,” but for the ones that world sometimes wants to “silence.” “It mattered to that one.” is all that matters to a rescuer. Thanks for all the opportunity’s you allow us to get involved in. Keep on doing as you have been. and never forget “it matters to that one.”

  8. noratmedicine Says:

    It has no scientific value…”The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse… We have cured mice of cancer for decades – and it simply didn’t work in humans.” Dr. Richard Klausner, as director of the US National Cancer Institute

    1981 Congressional Testimony by Dr. Irwin Bross, former Director of the Sloan-Kettering, the largest cancer research institute in the world, and then Director of Biostatistics at Roswell Park Memorial Institute for Cancer Research, Bufallo, NY: “The uselessness of most of the animal model studies is less well known…Indeed, while conflicting animal results have often delayed and hampered advances in the war on cancer, they have never produced a single substantial advance either in the prevention or treatment of human cancer.”
    more at http://www.pnc.com.au/~cafmr “Cancer research- a super fraud”

    and from the Safer Medicines Campaign http://www.curedisease.net

    “Given substances are not necessarily carcinogenic to all species. Studies show that 46% of chemicals found to be carcinogenic in rats were not carcinogenic in mice. [23] If species as closely related as mice to rats do not even contract cancer similarly, it’s not surprising that 19 out of 20 compounds that are safe for humans caused cancer in animals. [24]

    The US National Cancer Institute treated mice growing 48 different “human” cancers with a dozen different drugs proven successful in humans, and in 30 of the cases, the drugs were useless in mice. Almost two-thirds of the mouse models were wrong. Animal experimentation is not scientific because it is not predictive.

    The US National Cancer Institute also undertook a 25 year screening programme, testing 40,000 plant species on animals for anti-tumour activity. Out of the outrageously expensive research, many positive results surfaced in animal models, but not a single benefit emerged for humans. As a result, the NCI now uses human cancer cells for cytotoxic screening.[25]
    refs 23# DiCarlo DrugMet Rev,15; p409-131984.
    24# Mutagenesis1987;2:73-78.
    25# Handbook of Laboratory Animal Science, Volume II Animal Models Svendensen and Hau (Eds.) CRC Press 1994 p4.”

    please see curedisease.net mrmcmed.org health.org.nz navs.org speakcampaigns.org vivisectionresearch.ca

  9. mary ann lajoie Says:

    WE have spent millions of dollars for simulators and proven alternative methods to animal testing. This is 2011 and animal testing is no longer acceptable.
    WE have worked towards ending animal testing for years. We now have the simulators. Close down all animal labs, stop universities from teaching our young people that animal cruelty is acceptable and read my lips. Simulators, simulators, simulators.

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