In hunting and vivisection, animals are killed to “create jobs and improve the economy”
By guest blogger, Val Philbrick
According to hunters and trappers, animals are the “problem”. There are “killer” skunks of cats and dogs, “problem” porcupines that destroy property, home invasion “nuisance” squirrels, “dangerous” burrowing woodchucks that threaten life and limb, and the list goes on… The bottom line is that they all must be killed for their transgressions against humanity. There is no room for accommodation of animals in the hunter’s world. When challenged on this notion, hunters and trappers accuse those who disagree with them of the “sins” of veganism, naive sentimentality, urban dwelling, and shopping in grocery stores because after all, the hunters are the only ones who “know” as they are the “real” conservationists; while the rest of us are just uninformed “pretenders to the throne” who pay taxes to “conserve” wildlife in Maine.
Speaking of “problem” animals, there are the millions of “sacrificed” animals killed in medical research each year in this country and around the world to “create jobs and improve the economy”. Sounds like the rationale for hunting and trapping, doesn’t it? The link between the two is a life-denying mind-set, an entrenched attitude that sentient creatures don’t feel many of the emotions as humans, including pain or fear, and that they don’t want to live as much as we do.
Every year billions of dollars are spent by the United States on “vivisection,’ a deceptively neutral-sounding pseudo scientific term that means experimenting on live animals (i.e.surgery) – this despite the fact that our country currently has a deficit of nearly twenty trillion dollars- in other words, $20,000,000,000,000. Most of the U.S. tax dollars are funneled through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a federal government agency, which allocates research grants to corporations and major universities. But you must understand that you have no say in how the taxes are spent in this country. Money can be squandered away at will by a government that has an incredibly large, almost impossible to imagine, debt.
Any improvement to human health as a result of the merciless torture and slaughter of animals in the laboratory is purely coincidental, sort of like trying to find a needle in the proverbial haystack. You should know that Congress recently allocated yet another 100 million dollars in their proposed budget, in addition to the 30 billion (a conservative estimate), that is already doled out to universities and research facilities every year in this country and around the world as a form of corporate welfare. Some Republican members of Congress and presidential candidates complain that the Affordable Health Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, is bankrupting this country and must be repealed.
What about the millions, no billions, of dollars that is spent on repetitive “research” involving animals with very little, if any, applicability to humans, so that a medical “researcher” and/or lab technician can bring home a paycheck every week at a university or college that is already charging students $50,000 or more in tuition every year? Remember that the next time you are paying the deductible on your medical insurance policy or the 20 percent or more that you owe on your medical bills. Or better yet, try to find an affordable nursing home for a loved one, which can cost you thousands of dollars a month.
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine at www.pcrm.org, many of these experiments, which can last for decades, are cruel and unnecessary. Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee is a nonprofit health organization, which promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research. Although information is not always readily available from the powers that be in the world of medical “research”, efforts are being made by animal rights organizations to ascertain the scope of the problem in terms of monies being spent, safeguards for the animals, and the supposed benefits to human health.
Members of the public are able to access information on the kinds of experiments that NIH funds at http://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.cfm. The amount of NIH money used to fund research in this country and abroad every year is staggering, but the descriptions of the experiments are minimal. You can use the Freedom of Information Act to get more detailed information on the many experiments being conducted, but good luck with that as FOIA requests reportedly involve considerable processing fees, which are not always waived by the colleges, universities, and other research facilities, no surprise there, even when non-commercial interest in the information is expressed.
The bigger problem that animal rights activists face is the NIH’s system of awarding grants and the fact that proposals to do animal research are awarded money much more readily than non-animal research proposals. Animal rights organizations have attempted to challenge the NIH on its funding of specific projects like cardiovascular experiments using dogs at Ohio State University, Wayne State University, and the University of Utah. Unfortunately, this is a case of the fox guarding the hen house as NIH officials are, in most cases, animal experimenters themselves. They are often unwilling to criticize their own methods of scientific inquiry or value system.
According to a research paper, Canine Heart Failure Research at Wayne State University: Concerns about Scientific Merit and Cruelty to Animals, published by the Physicians Committee in February of 2014, “Tens of millions of dollars of research funding are spent on animal models of heart failure every year, but available treatments are quite limited in number and sustained effectiveness. Dr. Donal O’Leary of Wayne State University has received more than $8 million in NIH funding since 2000 and more than $5 million for one completed and one ongoing grant for his canine heart failure research. Yet our analysis shows that he has produced nothing to advance heart failure prevention or management.”
You can read the entire paper at the link provided on the www.pcrm.org website.
Animal rights groups have demanded that Wayne State University immediately suspend the decades-old cardiology research trials on dogs, which the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has dismissed as cruel and lacking in scientific validity. The Physicians Committee points out that after two decades, the studies have failed to produce any medical advances offering hope to millions of Americans with heart disease. Despite this, the researchers continue to collect almost $400,000 a year in NIH funding. The research involves multiple surgeries, artificially-induced heart failure, and forced runs on treadmills with “rapid ventricular pacing using surgically implanted right ventricular pacing electrodes” to death. The surgeries are reportedly so invasive and dangerous that as many as 25 percent of the dogs die during or after surgery before the experiments are completed. As is the usual practice, the few dogs that make it through the experiments are killed.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has regulatory authority over all research programs, but the Animal Welfare Act does not prohibit experiments, no matter how useless, cruel, or wasteful. Taxpayer dollars are being used to fund activities that most taxpayers find ethically objectionable and a waste of money. As the NIH is a public institution, it is accountable to the taxpaying public. Contact your elected representatives in Congress and demand reform to ascertain good science from the wasteful use of taxpayer money in the business of often cruel animal experimentation of dubious medical value to human health.
—Val Philbrick is a local writer, talk show host, and animal advocate.