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Media Coverage

Student group slams MSU's animal research

By Matthew Miller, Lansing State Journal
Created: 4/22/2008 11:36:30 AM
Updated: 4/22/2008 11:53:39 AM

Mitch Goldsmith came to the steps of Michigan State University's Hannah Administration Building on Monday to talk about one puppy, 66 minks and the ethics of animal research.

Goldsmith, an MSU freshman, was there on behalf of a Students Promoting Animal Rights, a campus group that made the news earlier this month while protesting the Royal Hanneford Circus performing at MSU.

On Monday, the group called on the university to reduce the amount of animal research on campus and pointed to the deaths of that puppy, which became trapped in a floor drain in 2006, and the minks, which died of heat stress in the summer of 2007, as examples of "university negligence."

In both instances, MSU was given warnings by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act. Marc Breedlove, who heads the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at MSU, which approves animal research on campus and investigates accidents, said those incidents were terribly upsetting to staff.

"They will try to make it sound like the reason these accidents happened is because we were lax or sadistic," Breedlove said. "But, in truth, these are very unfortunate incidents that we've already taken steps to make sure don't happen in the future."

Drain lids in the rooms where dogs are kept now are screwed down, he said. The puppy that died had lifted one and fallen in.

The campus mink facility now has improved ventilation and water misters for hot days, he said.

Breedlove said a report last year to the federal government showed MSU had conducted no animal research that fell into the most extreme category, where experiments cause animals pain and they are not given anesthetics.

Goldsmith made more of the violations documented by the USDA, which the group obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The university has "categorically stated that they're an extremely ethical organization and they treat animals with care," he said, "but these reports by the government say otherwise."

As for eliminating animal research on campus, Ian Gray, MSU's vice president for research and graduate studies, said it's highly unlikely. "The use of animals is a very integral part of biomedical research," he said. "For us to eliminate that would take us out of the mainstream as a research-intensive university."

Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

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