In Defense of Animals Organizes Protest Against Planned Feral Cat Trapping

In Defense of Animals organized a protest that drew dozens of animal rights activists to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Long Beach, California. The activists were protesting plans by the hospital to trap up to 75 feral cats and turn them over to a local animal pound.

IDA along with a group calling itself the Feral Cat Caretakers’ Coalition objected to the plan because the feral cats will almost certainly be euthanized. Bill Dyer of IDA told The Press Telegram,

Death is not a solution. They will always have cats her unless this can be managed.

VA officials countered by noting that the number of feral cats on its property had increased significantly over the past few years and was beginning to pose a potential health threat. In a prepared statement, the hospital said that “wild animals imposing a health threat must be handled in a humane fashion that lends itself to the reduction of such health hazard(s).”

But IDA and the FCCC claim that there is no evidence that any of the feral cats has passed on a disease to any patients, employees, or volunteers at the hospital.

The activists favor a trap, neuter and release program and offered to pay for the costs of doing this. The VA turned them down, saying it would be willing to cooperate with a plan that relocated the cats, but that it could not tolerate a feral cat colony on its property.


Hospital’s cat plan protested. Ian Hanigan, Press Telegram (Long Beach, California), December 15, 2002.

OSU's HIV Feline Research Will Continue

In June, Ohio State University researcher Michael Podell left his position after a sustained campaign directed against him by animal rights activists. Activists claimed that his research, which involved looking at FIV infection in cats who were administered methamphetamines, was cruel and unnecessary. The research, in fact, produced important findings about the progression of HIV-like illnesses as well as HIV-related dementia.

OSU didn’t effectively defend Podell from animal rights activists while he was at the university, but have decided that they will continue the research that Podell started. Podell conducted his research as part of a grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

OSU President Karen Holbrook said that, “Projects such as this one facilitate the design of treatments for humans and animals alike against many deadly viral diseases.”

Protect Our Earth’s Treasures, an animal rights group that regularly protested against Podell, announced that it will renew its protests beginning Nov. 1 until the university abandons such research.

POET director Rob Russell told The Columbus Dispatch, “It’s still the same wasteful project it was before.”


HIV Study That Uses Cats Will Continue At OSU. David Lore, The Columbus Dispatch, October 30, 2002.

Moby Doesn't Use Products Tested In Animals — Not!

On AR-NEWS an animal rights activist conveniently posted an excerpt from a book, Teen People: Real Life Diaries, which features a section by techno artist Moby explaining his reason for being a vegan and what that entails. According to Moby,

IÂ’ve been a proud vegan for fourteen years, since I was twenty-one. That means I donÂ’t eat meat or chicken or even fish (they have feelings too). And I donÂ’t eat products that come from animals, like milk (unless, of course, itÂ’s soy milk) or cheese. As you can probably guess, you wonÂ’t catch me wearing leather or fur. But thatÂ’s not all. I also refuse to buy products that have been tested on animals.

Really? That’s interesting because in early January of this year Moby was attacked by a stray cat he came across in New York City and was briefly hospitalized. According to numerous reports on the incident, Moby received a tetanus shot and antibiotics while hospitalized — all products which were extensively tested in animals.

Apparently in Moby’s book all animals are equal, some — such as pop singers — are just more equal than others.


Moby: The Voracious Vegan. Excerpts from TEEN PEOPLE Real Life Diaries. by Moby, as told to Linda Friedman.

Moby ends up in hospital after stroking stray cat. Ananova, January 4, 2002.

PCRM Declares Victory In Fight against OSU Researcher

Ohio State University researcher Michael Podell is leaving that university after an incessant campaign against him in which activists sent him death threats and harassed his children near their school. So of course, Neal Barnard and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine issued a press release taking credit for driving Podell out of OSU.

According to the release,

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) today declared a victory in its two-year battle to stop federally funded experiments at Ohio State University (OSU) in which cats were dosed with methamphetamine (“speed”), infected with a disease-causing virus, and finally killed.

The press release also includes Barnard’s typical obfuscation of the facts regarding medical research. Barnard claims that, “This experiment was not only cruel, but also needless.” The press release adds,

The doctors group [PCRM] pointed out that Dr. Podell had failed to consider alternatives to animal use, as required by law. Most notably, HIV-positive human patients who have used methamphetamine are already under clinical study, and the brain-damaging effects of drugs and the virus are well known.

Talk about nonsequitur. Yes, doctors already know that the AIDS virus progresses much more rapidly in people who abuse methamphetamine, but the open question is why this is the case. Podell’s research with cats produced new findings suggesting how this happens, including the surprise that brain cells themselves appear to be resistant to FIV infection but that the disease got into such cells through infected lymphocytes in a process that was accelerated in the presence of methamphetamine.


Doctors declare victory as cruel drug abuse experiments on cats are halted. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Press Release, June 13, 2002.

Feline Research Yields Clues about HIV-Associated Dementia, Progression in Drug Addicts

In human beings the HIV virus enters the brain almost immediately after a person is infected with the virus. As many as 20 percent of people who contract AIDS will eventually develop HIV-associated dementia — defined as a decline in cognitive thinking, motor dysfunction and behavioral changes.

Enter Ohio State University researcher Michael Poddell who conducts research on an animal model of HIV in cats. In a study to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of NeuroVirology, Poddell reports that the feline immunodeficiency virus reproduces in certain types of brain cells much faster than usual if the drug methamphetamine is present.

Poddell’s research surprisingly found that brain cells called astrocytes were resistant to FIV infection. Instead the virus got into the brain cells by being carried there by infected lymphocytes (a type of blood cell). Follow-up tests will be needed to see if HIV infects human brain cells in a similar way.

Adding methamphetamine at levels similar to what a drug users would have in his or her bloodstream increased the infection rate ten-fold.

Experiments are currently underway to see if methamphetamine causes FIV to progress more quickly in cats.

Podell, of course, has been excoriated by animal rights activists for his FIV research. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has called his experiments “cruel, wasteful and bizarre” and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a lawsuit in January against the National Institutes of Health claiming that the NIH withheld documents that would show that it was unnecessary to use cats for this research.

Cats are used for this research because they are the only laboratory animals other than primates that develop a neurological infections from HIV.


Methamphetamines may assist HIV in brain. Jim Kling, United Press International, June 4, 2002.

Update on Neurology Justin McArthur, M.D., 1998.

AIDS study targeting cats infuriates animal activists. Associated Press, October 9, 2000.

Ontario Prosecutors Appeal Cat Killer's Lenient Sentence

When an Ontario judge sentenced Jesse Champlain Power, 22, to just 90 days in jail to be served on weekends for torturing and killing a cat, animal activists were outraged. So was the prosecutor’s office which announced earlier this month that it would appeal the judge’s sentence.

The prosecutor decided not to appeal the sentence of Anthony Wennekers, 25, who was sentenced to 10 1/2 months in jail, and was released immediately based on time served.


Ontario: Crown to challenge cat-skinner’s sentence. The Ottawa Citizen, May 17, 2002.

Crown appealing cat killer sentence. Gretchen Drummie, The Toronto Sun, May 17, 2002.