After 24 lawmakers sent a letter to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), last week demanding answers about allegedly “cruel” puppy testing carried out by the federal agency, the California-based Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) told The Epoch Times these kinds of tests are “the industry’s dirty little secret.”
“They do a very good job hiding all of us from the public and it’s devastating when people do find out that dogs and cats just like the ones we share our homes with are being tortured like this,” BFP President and founder Shannon Keith said.
Documents (pdf) obtained by a watchdog group against government animal testing, White Coat Waste Project, found that between October 2018 and February 2019 the NIAID spent $1.68 million in taxpayer funds on animal experimentation at California-based research center SRI International. Fauci has yet to comment on the report.
According to the findings, researchers injected and force-fed 44 beagle puppies between six and eight months old with an experimental drug for several weeks, before killing and dissecting them. Mice were also used for other tests.
Keith said Northern and Southern California are hotspots for beagle testing and that labs “don’t want to release animals because that means that people know that dogs and cats are being tested on.” She said BRP has assisted in rescuing 3,000 animals being used for testing across the world. She’s rescued beagles from SRI International previously, too.
One of the invoices to the NIAID included “cordectomy,” or “devocalization,” which involves splitting of the dogs’ vocal cords so the experimenters wouldn’t have to listen to the puppies bark or cry.
The NIAID responded to The Epoch Times’ request for comment in a previous interview, saying “there … are concerns raised about work involving beagles under an NIAID contract for preclinical pharmacology and toxicology services.”
“Under this contract, the contractor conducts testing as required in animal models by the FDA, in compliance with Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) guidelines and in a facility accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) or its equivalent.
“Vocal cordectomies, conducted humanely under anesthesia, may be used in research facilities where numerous dogs are present. This is to reduce noise, which is not only stressful to the animals but can also reach decibel levels that exceed OSHA allowable limits for people and can lead to hearing loss.”
The White Coat Waste Project said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require drug testing on dogs for human medicine, so lawmakers are seeking answers from the NIAID on why such experiments are necessary.
SRI International, formerly Stanford Research Institute, has been under heavy scrutiny from activists in previous years for conducting tests on beagles. In 2014, the institute, located in Menlo Park, was inspected by USDA/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and documented to have used a total of 21 dogs for testing that year.
According to its website, SRI International is a “75-year pioneering research institute with a rich history supporting government and industry.” Its CEO, William Jeffrey, was formerly part of the George W. Bush administration as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and joined the center in 2014.
“SRI is definitely complicit,” Keith said. “They have a lot of animals in their laboratory including a lot of beagles.”
Why beagles? Because they are “docile and forgiving,” a laboratory employee told Keith after beagles were released from testing.
“They won’t fight back when you’re testing on them, they don’t bite you, and they forgive you next time you come over to their cage. She also said they’re the right size for being in cages.”
Other California representatives are also taking steps to block similar animal treatment. Keith said her organization helped pass AB 1282, the California Pet Blood Bank Modernization Act, which banned the use of closed colony blood banks and seeks to resolve the shortage of animal blood transfusion needed in veterinarian centers.
“That’s gonna phase out close colony blood bank so dogs will no longer be held kept in cages for their blood,” Keith said. “And we’re trying to raise the funds so that we introduce a federal bill to end animal testing, but it’s step by step.”
Additionally, other efforts to restrict tests on animals the House introduced earlier this year the FDA Modernization Act, which would “amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to allow manufacturers and sponsors of a drug to use alternative testing methods to animal testing to investigate the safety and effectiveness of a drug, and for other purposes.”
The act would also be a gateway to more funding and research toward alternative testing based on human biology.
“For the most part now, animal testing is bad science—drugs are released on the market that proves safe on animals, and then they’re harming and killing people because their systems are completely different than ours. You can’t extrapolate the results from pig to a human being, it just does not work,” Keith said.
In its statement to The Epoch Times, NIAID said animals used in NIH-funded research are “protected by laws, regulations, and policies to ensure the smallest possible number of subjects and the greatest commitment to their welfare.”
Institutions receiving funds must conduct research that involves animals in accordance with the Public Health Service Policy on the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, the statement continued.
“The proposed use of animals in research is evaluated during peer review for both contract and grant proposals, and animals used in research are to be provided with appropriate anesthesia and veterinary care. The principles for what is—and is not—allowed are governed both by regulations administered by the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare and the grantee institution’s animal care and use committee (IACUC).”
SRI International didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.