Animal research draws rally

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

Protesters say money rather than medical advances fuels research; backers disagree
By SCOTT WALDMAN, Staff writer First published in print: Monday, May 24, 2010

ALBANY -- Laboratory rats, dogs and chinchillas were mourned at an impromptu memorial service Sunday.

The animals were among those used in medical research conducted at Albany Medical Center and their use in tests was protested by a group of animal rights activists. The group, called Adirondack Animal Rights, plans to stage monthly protests at the corner of New Scotland and Holland avenues until the hospital finds other methods of testing. "I hope they stop and think about what's going on," said Jessica Ryle, the group's founder, as cars whizzed by and honked their horns.

Albany Medical College uses a variety of animals in tests that it claims are beneficial to science, according to its annual report with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Among the animals that experienced "pain or distress" in tests at the school in 2008 were 12 dogs, 13 rabbits, 38 pigs, two goats and 116 chinchillas, the report states.

Such testing is going on at every academic medical research facility across the country, Albany Med spokesman Greg McGarry said. He said the tests are absolutely imperative as long as "kids are dying of cancer" because that is how medical advances are discovered.

"We think that as long as there are these terrible diseases that afflict humans and animals, we have a lot to know from these animal studies," McGarry said.

McGarry said some of the tests now being conducted on animals at Albany Med includes research to limit the effects of a deadly biological agent terrorists could try to weaponize, non-addictive painkillers and a synthetic agent that helps fight breast cancer. Millions in federal grant money is paying for such studies, he said.

About a dozen protesters stood in the sun for about three hours at the intersection of New Scotland and Holland avenues holding signs with slogans like "Rats and mice feel pain and fear too." A smell of hamburger from the sports bar across the street wafted on the breeze and a group of hospital security guards kept a watchful eye.

Michael Budkie, a former research lab worker and founder of Stop Animal Exploitation Now, traveled from Ohio for the protest. He said institutions favor animal research though it is "old technology" because it brings in so much grant money and helps pay for buildings and salaries. He said stem cell research and in vitro technology are some of the modern developments that have rendered animal testing unnecessary. He led the memorial service to make passersby aware of what animals experience at Albany Med.

"We want people to realize animal value," he said. "They're not just part of the laboratory environment."

See Also: Albany Medical College, Albany, NY

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