(TMU) — Shocking animal neglect of test subjects in U.S. government labs are prompting the important question: is experimenting on animals abuse?
According to AFP, a number of animal welfare failures took place across a 22-month period from January 2018 to October 2019 at the laboratories of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The information comes thanks to a FOIA request from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
The organization reports that there were a total of 31 incidents of abuse across several laboratories performing various experiments for scientific medical research.
“Repeated violations of policy show that this system is inherently flawed,” Alka Chandna, PETA’s vice president of laboratory investigations cases, said.
Some of those neglects mentioned included mice baked to death after a heating system failure, mice left to die after researchers forgot to put food or water in their cages for a week, primates kept in a room with the lights on 24-hours-a-day for nearly five-months, lack of care given to a female owl monkey that became seriously ill which ended in heart failure, and more.
As AFP reported many people see these experiments as necessary for the advancement of medical knowledge. However, there are strict guidelines that scientists and research centers are supposed to follow which were completely ignored in these cases.
According to the AFP:
“From historic breakthroughs like the discovery of insulin through experiments on dogs, to the development last year of an Ebola treatment via work on genetically-modified mice, and cutting-edge cancer therapies, many scientists believe animal research is crucial to medical progress.
But the testing is supposed to take place under strict laws and policies spelling out its conditions, including the size of cages, room temperatures, and the animals’ social needs, as well as vet visits and the need for hygienic surgery and post-operative care.
Federal research facilities are subject to the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, which in turns mandates compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, a landmark law signed by former President Lyndon Johnson 1966.”
PETA isn’t the only animal rights group to voice concerns. The Animal Welfare Institute has called the abuses “egregious.”
“The laws and regulations exist to minimize animal suffering, pain, stress, and when even those minimal standards are not being addressed or not being followed, then you have significant suffering,” Eric Kleiman, a researcher at the Animal Welfare Institute said.
“Training, veterinary care, food, water: this is the most basic of basics. If you can’t do this kind of thing right you have no business doing anything with animals, it’s as simple as that,” he added, calling the findings “shocking.”
U.S. President Donald Trump recently signed an animal cruelty bill (H.R. 724) that seeks to end horrific abuse like this and make it a federal crime. However, that piece of legislation made exemptions for animal testing for medical science. This is despite animals being recognized as sentient over the years in other countries like New Zealand, France, Quebec, Austria, Australia, and Egypt.
Brussels Parliament also unanimously voted to recognize animals as “a living being endowed with sensitivity, interests of its own and dignity, that benefits from special protection” rather than property. The European Union first recognized animal sentience in 1997 in the Treaty of Amsterdam.
Scientists have expressed that animals are able to experience physical and psychological pain similar to us humans. As a result, some countries even forbid various forms of animal testing declaring experimentation on our furry friends illegal and punishable by prison time and fines.
Perhaps it’s time for the U.S. to take note of what other countries are doing and advance to computer modeling and test tube-based studies.