Stop UT and all dog and other vivisection

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Those who sign this petition want all laboratory research on dogs and other animals at Univ of Texas to stop immediately, whether funded by taxpayers, foundations, or individuals.
Da Vinci: One day the world will look upon
research on animals as it now looks upon research on humans.

By Jonathan Fox of the Dallas Observer Over the last two years,
the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas has purchased 63 dogs for use in federally funded experiments that began as
far back as 1988. The canines, mostly foxhounds and mongrels, are trained to run on treadmills, and are then anesthetized for pneumonectomies, a surgical
procedure in which one lung is removed. One month later, after the dogs
recover from surgery (which removes anywhere from 45 percent
to 68 percent of their lung capacity), they resume treadmill
exercise. But first, they are fitted for special masks linked to
machines that monitor their breathing. Their workouts are observed
for a year or more. Eventually, the dogs are killed and their lung
tissue is studied.
But UT Southwestern's canine experiments, led by physician
Robert Johnson (who declined to comment to the Observer), have
not gone unopposed. Animal activists have mobilized locally to
protest the experiments as cruel and unnecessary. At a recent
"Bark-a-thon" in late February, 60 protesters with 30 pet dogs in
tow picketed the medical center during rush-hour traffic.

The research hospital didn't back down

Activists aren't impressed and promise to keep up the pressure. "I
can't imagine having my chest cut open, having 68 percent of my
lungs removed, having part of my teeth cut off, being fit with a
heavy mask, and being forced to run on a treadmill," says Susan
Oakey, vice president of Animal Connection of Texas. "I can't
imagine the distress that would cause."

Rick Hamlin, a Garland veterinarian who runs the Kindness Small
Animal Hospital, has reviewed the researchers' journal articles and
also takes a dim view of the experiments.

He scoffs at the hospital's assertion that "there are no signs of
discomfort" by the dogs post-surgery because of pain-reducing
drugs. "I find that to be quite incredulous," says Hamlin. Long-term
pain, he says, "is just in the nature of a thoracotomy," a term that
denotes the opening of the chest through surgery. "Whenever you
crack the chest," he says, "it involves substantial pain."

Hamlin, who as a student at Texas A&M once "liberated" a
research dog, also objects to the tone of the researchers' articles
and abstracts. He complains they record the dogs' status "as if
collected from a petri dish instead of from a living creature that is
often referred to as our 'best friend,'" and has "a deep sense of love
and compassion toward humans."

. Hamlin argues that the
experiments are not groundbreaking, but redundant, pointing to a
1973 article in the Journal of Thoracic Cardiovascular Surgery
called "Regeneration of the Lung in the Dog."

And Neal Barnard, a medical doctor who heads the
Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
-- a progressive health-care group that has fought animal testing
nationally with some success -- calls the whole effort "patently

The real motive behind such studies, he charges, is
attracting much-coveted research dollars to the university and
getting articles published in scholarly journals.

This belief, strongly denied by researchers, has engendered its own
slogan. "Doctors publish, dogs perish," as Susan Oakey puts it.

The treadmill exercises aren't the only canine experiments at UT
Southwestern. Another team is examining how the brain processes
information from receptors in skeletal muscles and major arteries,
which activate during physical activity and send neural signals to
the brain critical to controlling blood pressure

Schoch says that goats, sheep, and worms are also part of other
UT Southwestern experiments, but that rats and mice account for
"99 percent" of experiments at the school, which counts more than
1,000 full-time faculty members.

While some groups have fought rodent experiments, arguing they
are painful and difficult to extrapolate to human health matters,
Animal Connection of Texas says it will focus on dogs first. In the
meantime, the group, which successfully fought to end the practice
of Dallas shelters selling strays to research labs, plans to continue
its protests. Members once inundated Dr. Robert Johnson's
neighborhood with fliers detailing the experiments, but some
activists considered that tactic too militant, so they stopped it.

The group has also sought access to meetings of the hospital's
Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, a panel of faculty
members that supervises experiments. Initially, hospital officials
denied that state open-meetings laws applied to the panel, but they
dropped that claim under threat of a lawsuit, according to Don
Feare, an Arlington lawyer representing Animal Connection.

Controversy or not, Neal Barnard thinks animal testing is on the
wane. He says his group has convinced many medical schools to
cease animal lab experiments and succeeded in ending military
"cat-shooting" studies, Drug Enforcement Agency narcotics
experiments on animals, and monkey self-mutilation projects.
Sophisticated analysis, in vitro research, and use of human cells are
methods that are gradually replacing animal experiments, he says.

"We are getting better and better at using human patients," Barnard
says. "We are seeing fewer and fewer of these crude animal

(Perhaps there is transference from these experiments to the
Clear Channel Dallas DJ who abused animals on the air.
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