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article imageOp-Ed: Humane Society alleges cruel research by Georgia Regents Uni, GA

By Paul Wallis     Nov 21, 2013 in Crime
Augusta - Some truly gruesome videos from the Humane Society of the United States show instances of animal cruelty and serious breaches of animal welfare alleged to have been conducted by Georgia Regents University research facilities.
The procedures are said to involve removal of small tissue samples and unnecessary extraction of teeth. The problem is that the big picture refers to 65,000 dogs dying every year in the process. Procedures are described as inhumane and extremely painful for the dogs.
The video is available here on YouTube, narrated by Kim Basinger. It’s not something I want to see ever again. The misery and implied misery are strictly a low dosage experience.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) petition page asks the public to assist by sending these forms to the USDA:
A recent undercover investigation at Georgia Regents University revealed the tragic fate of dogs sold by random source Class B dealers into research. These dealers have a long-standing history of poor conditions and illegal activity, taking up significant USDA enforcement resources. Please take action to ensure that our pets are never sold to research laboratories.
Thank you for pursuing enforcement action against Kenneth Schroeder, the B dealer selling dogs to GRU, including for obtaining dogs from unauthorized sources as well as failing to provide adequate veterinary care and housing. I urge the agency to make all random source Class B dealers a thing of the past.
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]
This process isn’t exactly a class act. You’ll have noticed that dogs are said to be sourced from “dealers”, who are said to be quite happy to take missing pets or apparently anything which qualifies as a dog, as tail-wagging cash assets.
The trouble, of course, is money. A bit of quick research indicates that the demand for bits of animals is pretty high. There’s even a canine tissue bank, and dog dentistry is also a booming potential cash cow as well as perfectly legitimate research and veterinary studies as a market for bits of dogs.
For its part, Georgia Regents University has a lengthy page regarding animal welfare policies. It’s a bit hard to read this if you’ve seen the video first, but GRU seems prima facie to be on the side of ethical practices.
These sections of GRU’s policy are interesting, to say the least, in relation to the procedures in the videos:
• In experiments involving hazardous materials, the principal investigators may, under certain conditions, provide their own animal care. However, the caretakers will be subject to the same regulations as the LAS personnel (LAS is the Division of Laboratory Animal Services)and monitored by the LAS Supervisor. All animal caretakers must have training & thorough education responsibilities.
• Acceptable animal husbandry and sanitation practices as outlined in LAS Standard Operating Procedures manual will be followed at all times.
• Appropriate anesthetics, analgesics, or tranquilizers as determined by the staff veterinarian must be used to relieve all unnecessary pain and distress to animals unless approval has been obtained in writing from the IACUC. (Copies listing the appropriate anesthetics, analgesics, and tranquilizers for various laboratory animals are available in the LAS office.
The animals are said by HSUS to be in great pain. "Acceptable animal husbandry", in the case of the dogs, appears to involve small cages. Other apparent breaches of policy are quite clear from the Humane Society’s video.
This is veterinary science?
There’s another problem, however, with the methodologies- They’re antiquated. This is the 21st century.
The need for invasive, let alone fatal, tissue sampling, from any part of the body of any animal, has to be questioned. Animal biopsies and tissue sampling can be done the same way as human.
Outright butchery and animal deaths aren’t listed as acceptable practices by GRU, either. The very high number of deaths simply doesn’t stack up against logical research practices.
So what’s happening? GRU’s response
GRU doesn’t have a media page. I couldn’t see anywhere to send questions other than the LAS contact point. Frankly, I’d prefer to talk to someone a bit higher up the chain of command than the alleged perpetrators of potentially large numbers of breaches of animal welfare laws in a case like this.
GRU comments on WRDW News:
Here's a statement from Dr. Mark Hamrick, Senior Vice President for Research at Georgia Regents University:
"The Food and Drug Administration, which provides oversight for medical device safety and procedures including dental implants, requires preclinical studies in animals demonstrating that the device or procedure is both safe and effective for its intended use in humans.
"The dogs were obtained from a vendor licensed and inspected by the USDA. Dogs are used infrequently in research conducted at the university.
"The video that was released shows surgical procedures performed under anesthesia, in sterile, aseptic conditions and followed with appropriate clinical management and pain control if necessary. The images showing open wounds in the neck were taken from the autopsy room, after the animal had already been euthanized."
OK, but that statement doesn’t hold a lot of water in terms of the fact of actual deaths and what the Humane Society calls “unnecessary deaths”. Nor does it clarify the allegation of “class B dealers” supplying animals. Why was the animal euthanized, anyway?
WRDW again: Random-source Class B Dealers are permitted to gather dogs and cats from various sources, including auctions, “free to good home” ads, online sources, flea markets and even animal control and some shelter facilities to resell to research facilities, according to the HSUS.
How cynical can you get?
“Free to good vivisectionists?” Animal shelters, or animal concentration camps? Flea markets, or mass animal murderers? Who permits the gathering? USDA.
This is the text of the USDA dealers license preamble:
Class B licensees may breed and raise some of the animals they sell but typically buy and resell animals from other sources. Class B dealers include brokers, operators of auction sales, and bunchers—those who supply dealers with dogs, cats, and other regulated animals collected from random sources.
In legislation-ese, that means “wherever, whatever, if the type of animal is covered by statute”, and most are.
GRU animal services
Let’s say the GRU’s animal services are open to interpretation, and under the circumstances not very optimistic interpretation.
On the elegantly titled “Animal Shipping Page”:
LAS Animal Shipping
Shipment Information
LAS will assist and facilitate the import and export of animals for the GHSU research community. It is important that Investigators check with LAS or the receiving institution prior to initiating a shipment request to ensure that they are aware of all required documentation needed for receipt of animals to their institution. Some documentation examples can be health reports, outbreak reports or USDA certificates. If proper documentation is not received it can cause lengthy delays in the completion of a shipping request.
The equally classy and reassuring Animal Import page refers to “non-approved dealers”:
Animal Import From Non-Approved Vendors
Shipping Information
LAS will assist and facilitate the import, also referred to as anon-commercial vendor order, of animals for the GHSU research community. It is important that Investigators check with LAS prior to initiating a shipment request to ensure that they are aware of all required documentation needed for receipt of animals to our institution. Some documentation examples can be health reports, outbreak reports or USDA certificates. If proper documentation is not received it can cause lengthy delays in the completion of a shipping request.
All requests must be submitted using eSirius and cannot be processed until this step has been completed. You must have animal ordering privileges to complete a non-commercial vendor order. To obtain eSirius access please visit our eSirius Access page.
(Interesting to think that bureaucracy, not law, may cause “lengthy delays” in the death of those dogs.)
This does say “non-approved”. Whether that means anybody who walks in the door with a bow wow and would like some money please, is debatable from the text, but “non-approved” is a definite category for receipt of animal imports and does more or less cover Class B licenses.
It’s hard to put into words how staggeringly backward and totally unacceptable this situation is. “Harvesting” animal teeth? Bone samples? … And then bye, bye someone’s pet?
This looks to me to have all the earmarks of a straight cash business. A slaughter yard, not science. A brokerage, not research. There’s no particularly credible scientific reason for such a programmed turnover of animals. It reads like the lab is simply a processing plant, like an abattoir, obtaining animals for the purpose of "redistribution" or at least facilitating supply. That may or may not be the case, but the machinery for moving animals through a production line seems to be in place.
There is a case to answer, and there’s a point to prove for animal lovers here. The Humane Society has made its point, gruesomely. This type of practice has to go.
So does the roaring trade in “spare animals”, which is roughly equivalent to African poaching for its inhumanity and greed.
I’d love to know who it was who decided that all laws were to be ignored. The USDA is required to do its job, and pressure should be applied to make sure it does. If you’re in the US, you can also talk to your fun-loving Congress person or sun-soaked Senator about earning their money, too.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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