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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Media Coverage

Protesters urge care for rats

UNC under investigation by NIH

The Daily Tar Heel
September 26, 2005

As many students headed to the bars for their own alcohol experiments during Saturday’s football game against N.C. State University, protesters outside the Franklin Street post office spoke out against the University’s use of rodents in alcohol studies.

Armed with images of rats post-laboratory use, Stop Animal Exploitation Now! protested against researchers who use rats to conduct alcohol studies.

The protesters talked to passers-by and asked them to sign a petition that will later be sent to Chancellor James Moeser. They had collected 145 signatures by Saturday night.

The protest specifically targeted UNC’s Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, which receives federal funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Missy Cooper, one of the activists for SAEN, questioned the usefulness of the alcohol experiments undertaken by the center, especially considering they are funded by taxpayers’ dollars.

“There’s millions of dollars … wasted on this research, and we feel there are better things we can do,” Cooper said.

Protesters also said they wanted to raise awareness that UNC has been investigated for animal abuse that was caught on tape.

The protesters suggested a number of alternative methods of conducting alcohol studies that do not require testing on rats, such as MRI and PET scans.

“We’d like a win-win situation for everyone,” Cooper said.

SAEN members said they want to have an open debate with researchers at the center to discuss such alternatives.

Cooper also said studies done on rats do not always match exactly what happens in humans, citing Merck & Co. Inc.’s use of animal studies with their drug, Vioxx.

Vioxx was taken off the market after studies showed it doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Andi Morgan, assistant student record manager in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, brought two rats from Raleigh Rodent Rescue to dispute rat stereotypes.

With colorful personalities like dogs and cats, rats can be domesticated, protesters said.

Pictures the group displayed came from two undercover investigations at the University that were led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The months-long investigations occurred at separate times between October 2001 and November 2003.

After the first investigation, Kate Turlington, then an undercover investigator for PETA, reported to the National Institute of Health that University lab researchers were mistreating their animals.

Backed by video proof, she said researchers often were denying rats and mice basic veterinary care. When animals were found to be in critical condition, researchers did not euthanize them.

After the reports, NIH led its own investigation of UNC, making similar discoveries to PETA’s, protesters said.

A year later another undercover investigator came in and discovered the same practices.

“It leaves me with very little faith that UNC is capable of doing the right thing,” Turlington said.

The University was still under examination by NIH as of July.

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