March 1, 2018

Mandatory Adoption Bills Considered in Maryland and Rhode Island

This week, testimony was heard on two mandatory adoption bills. Senate Bill 675 in Maryland was heard by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday evening. The Committee heard supporting testimony from animal rights activists as well as people who had adopted former research dogs. Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland opposed the bill as drafted and brought two veterinarians to better clarify the adoption process for animals used in research. A representative from the American Physiological Society (APS) also attended the hearing to provide in-person testimony. NABR, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB), and States United for Biomedical Research (SUBR) provided written testimony to the Committee. No vote was taken on S.B. 675. The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear testimony on the House version of the bill, House Bill 732, on March 13.

Earlier in the week, NABR encouraged members to contact the state legislature in opposition to S.B. 675 and H.B. 732. If you are a Maryland resident, please click here to send a pre-formatted letter your State Senator and State Representative urging them to oppose these bills. Please also encourage your friends, family, colleagues, and social media networks to do the same. Even if you don't live in Maryland you can still help out. Please share this urgent alert with people you may know there.

Yesterday, the Rhode Island House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare heard testimony on H. 7414. No vote was taken. Once again NABR, ASPET, and SUBR submitted written comments opposing the bill to the committee. Jim O’Reilly, President of the Massachusetts Society for Medical Research (MSMR), was the sole witness testifying in-person against the measure. The committee recommended the bill be held for further study. A representative from the Beagle Freedom Project, now known as Rescue + Freedom Project (R+RP) was at the hearing and testified in support.

National Veterans Group Endorses PUPPERS Act

Things have generally been quiet for the past few months on the issue of ending the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) canine studies. However, earlier this week AMVETS, which claims to represent 250,000 American military veterans, wrote a letter to Congress endorsing the PUPPERS Act (H.R. 3197). Executive Director Joseph Chenelly wrote, “…AMVETS supports a steady and finite drawdown in funding for VA’s controversial canine research and the repurposed funds to be used for identifying alternatives to using animals in research and embracing non-animal research protocols that hold timelier promise in terms of cures and treatments, particularly in the areas of mental health, polytrauma, and the effects of toxic exposures.” Chenelly’s letter comes months after other veterans groups, like the American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Association of the U.S. Navy (AUSN), National Defense Committee, Square Deal for Veterans, and Friends of the VA (FOVA) opposed H.R. 3197. NABR has written to Capitol Hill expressing its opposition to the bill, and was joined by more than 40 scientific and medical organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)..

Congressional Neuroscience Caucus Discusses Animal Research

On Monday, exciting new updates from the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative were presented to Congress in a briefing hosted by the American Brain Coalition (ABC), Society for Neuroscience (SfN), and the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Titled, “Launching into the Next Phase of the NIH BRAIN Initiative,” Dr. Joshua Gordon of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Dr. Walter J. Koroshetz, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), were on hand to discuss the most recent discoveries of the BRAIN Initiative and repeatedly underscored the need for animal research. To read Amanda Dettmer’s detailed coverage of the briefing for Speaking of Research, please click here.

Texas A&M Staff Receive Robocalls from Actress Lilly Tomlin

By now, most in the research community are familiar with the campaign against Texas A&M University by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for the University's involvement of canines in a muscular dystrophy study. On Feb. 26, more than 5,000 staff members of the University answered their phones to hear a recording by celebrity Lilly Tomlin, who had participated in previous PETA campaigns. She urged them to call the University's president to request that he end the study. To read more coverage about this, please see the Hollywood Reporter story. The audio of the recording can be heard here.