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UPDATE: Pound puppies to lab rats in 2 weeks flat

by Jesse Fruhwirth
- Posted // 2010-09-06 -

See updates below. Meet Lody: a "great lab" with a "good temperament," who "loves people" and is "good with kids." Lody entered the Northern Utah Valley Animal Shelter in Lindon March 31, but according to records, was sold to become a lab test animal on April 15.

That's where we lose track of Lody and dozens of other sheltered animals apparently suitable for adoption, before they became lab test animals. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has released a new Web feature about NUVAS and other animals like Lody, like Lulu, who was/is "Cute, cuddly and energetic," according to the NUVAS intake form, and "loves attention and being scratched." Lulu went in: March 27, 2010. Sold for experimentation: April 15.

PETA obtained the intake records of over 50 animals from NUVAS, allegedly the only animal shelter left in Utah that sells its animals to the University of Utah for animal testing. PETA obtained photos and intake records of the animals, often containing glowing remarks about the dogs and cats, who were later--sometimes very soon--sold to the U.

PETA's Justin Goodman, the associate director of lab investigations, says animal shelters selling animals to labs is shady.

"Not only is this shameful betrayal of the cats and dogs that rely on our goodwill for their protection, it's also a violation of of the trust of the public who expects shelters to be a safe haven for vulnerable animals, not a supplier of cheap lab 'equipment' for animal experiments," Goodman said.

I called NUVAS and was told director Tug Gettling is the only person who can speak on behalf of the shelter. He's unavailable until Monday. If he calls with comments next week, I'll update the post.

Goodman says PETA has been in contact with Gettling, who "has not indicated that he plans to change the policy," and board members of the shelter, some of whom "told us they had no idea the shelter was doing this and asked for more information."

PETA is asking for concerned individuals to "respectfully urge" NUVAS board members to end the practice. They have a form on the Website to help you do so.

As the result of 2010's HB107, sponsored by Salt Lake City Democrat Rep. Jennifer Seelig and co-sponsored by Provo Republican Sen. Curtis Bramble, Utah shelters are no longer forced to sell their animals to research laboratories but may continue to do so if they wish. According to PETA, all of Utah's shelters have chosen to end the practice except NUVAS.

Update 2:40 p.m. 9-3-10: Click here to browse the adoptable animals available from NUVAS.

Update 11:02 a.m. 9-6-10: This weekend I met Kappa Gamma, a lovely and happy black lab who enjoys hiking and playing with young kids. I met Kappa Sunday atop Gobblers' Knob (elv. 10,246 ft., the highest point between Millcreek and Big Cottonwood Canyons).kappa_gamme_reserach_dog.jpg

Kappa was a University of Utah "lab research rescue animal," according to his human friends. While in the lab, Kappa had electrodes surgically and semi-permanently implanted along his spine to research how his spine worked while running. These were apparently visually obvious while implanted, but were removed at the termination of the study.

Kappa suffers no permanent injury as a result of the electrodes and is living a very nice retirement, according to his human companions. Additionally, Kappa's name was given to him in the lab and because he was already familiar with it, his adoptive family continued to refer to him that way. I'm not an animal pyschologist, but this, to me, suggests Kappa received a level of socialization that contrasts most people's concept of what it means to be a lab test animal.

But, as members of the Animal Defense League of Salt Lake City remind us, not all lab animals get off so easy. "Some of the dogs and cats sold by animal shelters to the university have holes drilled into their skulls, medical devices implanted in their necks, and hard plastic tubes repeatedly forced down their throats." Or as Jessica Clark commented on Facebook, " mom's neighbors rescued a testing dog from the U. It's a mess. Scared of everything. Super sad."

This diversity of animal experience in lab testing makes me want a graduated system of classifications not unlike our classifications for radioactive waste. Knowing how sensitive this issue is both for the researchers and the animals rights' advocates, I don't imagine either group would be happy with me proposing a graduated system; the advocates often want all testing to end while researchers are frequently worried about slippery-slope reforms. I think for the majority of Americans, however, a graduated system would seem reasonable and welcome. Three levels might be enough, looking something like this:

Level A: Animals will be purposefully exposed to a pathology (like HIV), permanently disabled (like inducing a stroke) or subjected to extreme emotional stress (pain studies, etc). Most or all the animals will suffer and/or die as a result of the experimentation.

Level B: Animals will not be exposed to any permanent physical health problems, but will suffer greatly during limited times during the course of the experiment (like recovery from a surgery). Complete recovery in the long-term is possible, though stress-induced emotional problems are a likely risk.

Level C: Animals will not suffer much physical or emotional stress as a direct result of experimentation (like Kappa Gamma's experience seems to have been) and human safety protocols must be followed for all procedures. The animals will receive ample socialization on a daily basis.

Then what do you do with the classifications, in terms of limits, bans or other regulation? I'll leave that to others to propose. I'm primarily concerned with transparency and information dissemination. My bias here is that there is inadequate information regarding the care of animals in lab research facilities. I'd like to see that change. After all, I imagine some people reading this might be willing to picket and protest a Level A animal experiment but would be very much in favor of Level C. Those people, I believe, have a right to know who's doing what--and how often.

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Posted // October 1,2010 at 12:35

It was proven long ago that animal experimentation is outdated, and can be subsituted with other means of human experiments. This is, as it always has been, disgusting, and this shelter, and all that practice selling animals to labs, should be prosecuted. PETA exposed this decades ago, and it's unbelievable it still goes on. Humans are disgusting and I dislike them more and more the older I get. If medicine would start to practice preventative medicine, which includes proper diet and excecise, in addition to eliminating all these damn chemicals out of our society, we could probably start to eliminate many diseases such as cancer, to name one, in addition to many neurological conditions. But in med school, students get maybe one course in nutrition--that's it. Proper diet alone could elimate many of the diseases medical schools are trying to learn to "cure" by butchering sweet, defensless animals.


Posted // October 1,2010 at 09:03

I just think the animals need to be humanly uthanized than for them to be torchered in a research lab it is not fair to the animal and god would not agree with them doing this to his creatures i know i would rather be dead then to have someplace torchering me and using me for testing crap. Animals cant talk nor were they built like humans so using animals for research does not help humans stop using animals for research get human voluteers to help with ur crap not animals leave the animals alone.


Posted // October 3,2010 at 04:56 - Who has the right to kill an animal, just because it has no home???? I live in Thailand and here are so many Straydogs and we try to take care them, so nobody has to kill anybody or anything, except they so sick and would die anyway you can end their pain, but this I would do for a human being too.


Posted // October 1,2010 at 13:05 - runonrunonrunonrunonrunonrunonrunonrunonrunonrunonrunonrunon.


Posted // September 30,2010 at 19:54

The older I get the surer I am that the human species is the worst one of all.

Intentional harm to any living creature is a depraved act. To use live domesticated animals in medical or cosmetic research is criminal.

Researchers who participate in same should be punished using the method of research on them as they used on another living being.

At best, these researchers should be taken out of the human gene pool.


Posted // October 1,2010 at 13:07 - and you are better than other humans because? you are nothing but a parasite on this earth, just like everybody else.


Posted // September 4,2010 at 12:21

once again we are disgraced by mankink, shame on the shelter and the university, all people involved should rot in hell for their horriffic abuse to animals, they are not a shelter, who can trust a death camp run for profit.


Posted // September 3,2010 at 15:14

This is horrible. Please let us posted on any comments you receive! We are trying to work with this shelter to help them get their animals adopted. I sent an initial introduction letter back in July and never received a response.

You would think these people would want the best for these poor animals..