May 11, 2018
Mandatory Adoption Bills to Cover Additional Species?
The slippery slope is real, and the research community should be fully aware of implications stemming from so-called ‘Beagle Freedom’ bills. Mandatory adoption bills, which have now become law in seven states, have thus far exclusively targeted canine and feline research, but it is has now been made clear that anti-animal research advocates will likely soon seek expanding this mandate to any number of additional research species. In a recent article published by The Eagle, Matt Rossell, a long-time animal rights activist, stated bluntly that, “When this bill originated we thought a good starting point was the animals people can best identify with and want to bring into their homes. We would be open to other species.” This may mean future efforts to mandate adoptions for guinea pigs, rabbits, sheep, and many other animals used in research; even non-human primates. As for Rossell, he made his fame in the animal rights community conducting infiltrations during his early career. Rossell has been either employed by, or associated with, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), In Defense of Animals (IDA), Animal Defenders International (ADI), and now as Director of Advocacy, Programs, Campaigns & Public Policy for the Rescue + Freedom Project (formerly the Beagle Freedom Project).
As history has shown, early versions of these bills have also included mandatory reporting requirements, time limits on research studies, and unconstitutional mandates for corporate entities. NABR anticipates this will be an issue to be wrestled with for years to come.
Mandatory Adoption Bills Move in Rhode Island and Delaware
The Rhode Island State Senate will soon consider H. 7414 and we need your help opposing this bill. H. 7414 would mandate that animal research institutions work with third party adoption organizations to find homes for dogs and cats upon completion of studies, despite the fact that research institutions regularly practice such adoptions. If you are a Rhode Island resident, we urge you to please contact the Senate President, Majority Leader, and members of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee TODAY to OPPOSE H. 7414. Simply copy/paste the following email addresses into the “To:” section of your email:
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Please keep your emails short, identify yourself as a member of the biomedical research community, and be direct, yet respectful, in asking that they oppose H. 7414.
This bill requires that academic institutions and those who collaborate with them adopt out dogs and cats no longer needed in research. H. 7414 presents a solution in search of a non-existent problem. Should the bill become law, more arduous restrictions on animal research, such as limits on the length of studies, overly burdensome reporting requirements, and expansion of coverage to include other species of animals become inherently more probable. These attempts have failed in other states. NABR has submitted testimony on H.7414.
Please take a moment to send a quick email in opposition and encourage your family, friends, and colleagues to do the same. It doesn’t take long and will help push for defeat of H. 7414. Even if you don’t live in Rhode Island you can still help by sharing this alert with people you know in the state.
In Delaware, Senate Bill 101 was passed by the full Senate on May 8. Introduced in June of last year, SB101 is similar, if not identical, to the other pieces of research animal adoption legislation that NABR is tracking. It now heads to the desk of Governor John Carney (D) for his consideration. Biomedical research advocates in Delaware can contact the Governor by clicking the following link: https://www.votervoice.net/NABR/campaigns/59062/respond.
Google Cancels PETA Speech Due to Employee Protests
In January, Google had planned to host PETA co-founder and President Ingrid Newkirk at their California campus to discuss her views on animal rights and how animals can be subject to prejudice like humans. PETA’s equating animal rights with civil rights struggles didn’t sit well with many of the company’s employees. Newkirk had been invited to speak by “Googlers for Animals” but her event was cancelled at the last minute due to protests from other employees in the “Black Googler Network.” While waiting in the parking lot of the Google campus, Newkirk was reportedly told by an employee, “Google has these values, and with our talks, we have to align with these values.”
USDA’s Animal Parasitic Disease Lab Under Fire from WCWP for Cat Research
On Monday, news reports surfaced that the Animal Parasitic Disease Lab at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Beltsville, MD was facing questions about research into toxoplasmosis with felines. In a WJLA interview, Justin Goodman, the White Coat Waste Project’s (WCWP) Vice President for Advocacy and Public Policy, called it a “USDA kitten slaughter house” and claimed that 100 kittens were used and euthanized. The USDA explained in the interview that 100 felines is a serious overestimation. Rep. Michael Bishop (R-MI) also sent a letter about the issue on May 7 to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue asking for clarifications on the study. CBN News, CNN, and The Detroit News featured coverage.
USDA’s ARS told CNN that cats were, “essential to the success of this critical research.” Furthermore, USDA stated that the cats used in toxoplasmosis research were not adopted due to potential health risks to families who may adopt the animals, “Our goal is to reduce the spread of toxoplasmosis. Adopting laboratory cats could, unfortunately, undermine that goal, potentially causing severe infections, especially with unborn children or those with immunodeficiencies. ARS regularly inspects research animals and complies with best management practices in animal research.”
House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Approves APHIS Budget Increase
The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee met on Wednesday, May 9 to markup the fiscal year 2019 budget. No anti-research items were added to the markup. However, APHIS did receive a $998.4 million budget. This represents a $16.5 million increase over the 2018 fiscal year budget.
NIH Council of Councils Meeting on May 18; NHPs to be Discussed
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced, via a Federal Register notice, a meeting of the Council of Councils on May 18 from 8:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD in Building 31, C Wing, 6th Floor, Conference Room 10. The open session will be accessible online via NIH videocast here: http://videocast.nih.gov. Agenda items will include announcements, updates, evaluating the “Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST)” Awards, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) update, an introduction to Non-Human Primate (NHP) use in addiction research and models of drug addiction. A portion of the meeting will be closed to the public, per 52b(c)(4), and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as grant applications could disclose trade or commercial secrets and personal information. An official agenda will be posted to the Council of Council’s home page before the meeting.
Any interested parties can file written comments. Please include name, address, telephone number and business or professional affiliation. Written comments can be submitted to Franziska Grieder, D.V.M., Ph.D., Executive Secretary, Director, Office of Research Infrastructure Programs, Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, Office of the Director, NIH, 6701 Democracy Boulevard, Room 948, Bethesda, MD 20892, or by email to GriederF@mail.nih.gov.
Court Rules Chimpanzees Don’t Have Legal Standing in New York; But Can a Horse File Suit Against its Owner in Oregon?
The Nonhuman Rights Project suffered a major defeat this week when New York state’s highest court rejected an appeal in the “Tommy and Kiko” case. A vote of 5-0 upheld a lower court’s ruling that chimpanzees are not legal persons. Legal personhood through the courts has long been a goal of those opposed to animal research. However, the bulk of legal precedent thus far has been in the favor of the research community. Judge Eugene Fahey issued in his opinion an argument that gives NhRP some hope for the future when he noted, “The issue whether a nonhuman animal has a fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus is profound and far-reaching. It speaks to our relationship with all the life around us. Ultimately, we will not be able to ignore it. While it may be arguable that a chimpanzee is not a ‘person,’ there is no doubt that it is not merely a thing.” Please click here to read NhRP’s press release on the decision. You can also read the Washington Post’scoverage of Judge Fahey’s opinion here.
The Hillsboro Tribune in Oregon has reported that, “a horse is seeking damages for abuse it suffered while living on a rural Hillsboro farm in 2017.” The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is suing the previous owner, an Oregon farmer, on behalf of the horse. The suit was filed in the Washington County Circuit Court claiming pain, suffering, and neglect. The horse’s former owner, Gwendolyn Vercher, pled guilty to first-degree animal neglect in 2017. The lawsuit is seeking a minimum of $100,000 in damages, which ALDF’s spokeswoman, Natalia Lima, says will go to the horse’s medical care. Lima also stated that the goal of the lawsuit was to set a precedent in Oregon courts to gain legal standing for animals. The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled in the past that animals can be considered victims in animal cruelty cases, but no court has yet ruled that an animal has the same rights as a human being when it comes to seeking civil damages. Rulings in such cases have serious implications for the future use of animals in research.
Effectively Responding to Animal Rights Accusations
Have you ever wondered, “what is the best way to answer activists’ accusations against my research?” Speaking of Research recently posted a very good blog highlighting do’s and don’ts with a real example provided by the University of Missouri. NABR agrees with the author’s points and recommends Update readers take note. As always, NABR staff stand ready to assist you and your institution should the need arise. Please, do not hesitate to contact us at 202-857-0540 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AVMA Emphasizes Responsible Lab Animal Stewardship
The AVMA has recently revised the “Use of Animals in Research, Testing, and Education” language to provide a better balance between the importance of animal research and the duty to provide responsible stewardship to the animals used in that research. This language change was decided on after the AVMA Board of Directors meeting on April 5-6, which approved the suggestions of the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee. The American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) and the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners (ASLAP) assisted in the drafting of this language.
The new language states, “The AVMA recognizes that animals have an important role in research, testing, and education for continued improvement of human and animal health and welfare. The use of animals in research, testing, and education is a privilege carrying with it unique professional, scientific, and moral obligations, and ethical responsibilities. The AVMA encourages proper care of all animals, and supports the judicious use of animals in meaningful research, testing, and education programs.”