Tehran Bans Dog Walking

Religious fundamentalism just has to ruin everything. From the BBC,

Iran’s capital city has banned the public from walking pet dogs, as part of a long-standing official campaign to discourage dog-ownership.

Tehran Police Chief Hossein Rahimi said “we have received permission from the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office, and will take measures against people walking dogs in public spaces, such as parks”.

. . .

Dogs are viewed as “unclean” by Iran’s Islamic authorities, who also regard dog-ownership as a symbol of the pro-Western policy of the ousted monarchy.

The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance banned the media from publishing any advertisements for pets or pet-related products back in 2010, and there was a push in parliament five years ago to fine and even flog dog-walkers.

Animal Rights Extremists Release Animals, Set Fires at Hunt Kennels in UK

In the early morning hours of November 20, animal rights extremists broke into the kennels at the Essex and Suffolk hunt, releasing dozens of animals and setting a couple of fires.

When police arrived shortly after 1 a.m., they found 82 dogs and 5 horses and been released, and the gates to the kennel, which opens into the road, left wide open. Additionally, the extremists set a couple of fires and spray painted “hunt scum” on the road.

Gary Thorpe, huntsman for the Essex and Suffolk hunt, told the East Anglian Times,

We are appalled. They let all the hounds and horses out of their stables and left the gates wide open so they could get on the road. Thankfully this did not happen, but that was more by luck than anything else or they could have caused a serious accident. These people call themselves animal lovers, but what kind of animal lover does this. We are hunting completely within the law and they still persist in coming out and disrupting what we are doing. It is very worrying when they are prepared to set fire to something and release your animals in the middle of the night.

A spokesman from the UK’s Hunt Saboteurs Association said that no one from that organization was involved in the action,

I can say categorically no member of the HSA would take any action that would endanger the life of hunting hounds and horses. We care for their welfare.

There’s no evidence that anyone from the HSA was involved, but unless the HSA actually knows the identity of the attacker, this categorical denial is a bit silly (hint, next time just say your organization does not condone such irresponsible actions and leave it at that).


Saboteurs blamed for hunt attack. The BBC, November 20, 2005.

Fury as hunt kennels attacked. Helen Skene, East Anglian Daily Times, November 21, 2005.

Arson attack on hunt kennels. Anna Tyzack, Horse and Hound, November 21, 2005.

Activists Steal Dogs Used for Genetic Disease Research

In August, the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for stealing a dog and her five puppies from Jennersmead Research Farm at Massey University in New Zealand.

What makes the dogs in this case so special is that they are carriers of mucopolysaccharidosis, a degenerative genetic disease that in human beings typically leads to death before the age of 10. In dogs, the disease typically results in death by the second year of life.

The owner of the dog, who carries a copy of the defective gene but does not suffer from the disease, had apparently loaned her to the university for breeding purposes.

Grant Guilford, head of Massey’s Veterinary School, told The Dominion Post,

It [the genetic disease] causes wasting of the nervous system till by the end the dogs — and humans can only stagger about. We were given the dogs by a farmer who is very upset that they have been stolen. We were working with the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital on gene therapy to find a cure for this disease . . . Rehoming these dogs will put the families who take them at risk of serious trauma when the well-loved dog dies down the track.

Not that Guilford had to worry for very long. The dog and five puppies turned up at an animal shelter after being turned in a few days later by people who said that they had found the animals “dumped by the river” near the animal shelter. The shelter recognized the dogs as the stolen animals and returned them to the university.

Massey University is now in the process of reevaluating its security arrangements at its animal facilities. Guilford told the New Zealand Press Association,

The bigger problem [beyond this theft] is that the animal rightists are generalising their attacks beyond this one farm and now are doing their best to defile everything that Massey does, and so we’ve now got issues to consider whether the veterinary school itself is safe. That’s a problem, there’s 800 students and staff a day in the building.


Bitch and puppies stolen from lab handed in. Michael Daly, New Zealand Press Association, August 29, 2005.

Activists ‘liberate’ diseases lab dogs. Don Kavanagh, The Dominion Post (New Zealand), August 27, 2005.

More Animal Rights Reactions to Dog Cloning

As was mentioned a few days ago, South Korean researchers recently managed to clone a dog. Animal rights activists quickly reacted to this announcement by denouncing it as immoral.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s Neal Barnard complained that the whole process was immoral and pointless. In an op-ed for the Ft. Worth Telegram, Barnard wrote,

First, one basic moral issue: The cloning process often means operating on
hundreds of animals to extract their eggs in order to try to produce an infant.
About 90 percent of cloning attempts fail to produce viable offspring. Those
born alive often have compromised immune systems and higher rates of infection
and tumor growth. A dismaying number — perhaps about 30 percent — suffer
from “large offspring syndrome,” a debilitating condition marked by an enlarged
heart, immature lungs and other health problems.

Even if cloning were more efficient, it still would not be the scientific
path we need to pursue. Answers to the most pressing human health problems —
heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and others — lie in understanding
human cells, human genes and, in some cases, human habits.

Profound physiological differences make it very difficult to extrapolate
experimental results from any animal to a human. Trying to use animals as
“models” for humans has produced catastrophic results: The anti-inflammatory drug
Vioxx, which tested as safe in mice and rats, turned out to double the risk of
heart attack and stroke in humans.

Well, at least no one will ever accuse Barnard of letting evidence get in his way. It is interesting that Barnard mentions heart disease, cancer and diabetes — all diseases that animal research has played a key role in understanding and treating — before falsely claiming that animal models are useless.

And, of course, Barnard cannot be bothered to note that the side effects of Vioxx also did not show up in human clinical trials either for a very good reason — the increase in heart and stroke risk appears to only occur after long-term use of the drug. The real issue raised by the Vioxx problem is how to balance the tradeoffs between getting a potentially lifesaving drug to market and having thorough clinical data of the long term effects of using a drug. Perhaps Barnard would favor requiring that companies do more animal testing that lasts for longer periods of time, as that is one clear way of discovering side effects like that seen with Vioxx.

Besides, the South Korean researchers made clear that their ultimate goal was creating embryonic stem cell lines with their technology, not the production of a line of cloned dogs. Unique aspects of the canine reproductive system mean that dog cloning is unlikely to become common.

Jennifer Fearing of United Animal Nations wrote an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle expressing similar views to Barnard’s,

And while some see animal cloning as an opportunity — albeit grotesquely
inefficient and arguably immoral — to advance animal or human health, others
are engaged in the effort strictly as a for-profit venture to reproduce
people’s pets. The wholly unregulated company that sold the cat Little Nicky as a
clone for $50,000 in December is aggressively marketing its gene-banking
services to veterinarians and to pet lovers across the country through direct mail
and ambitious public-relations strategies. Despite having produced only a
handful of cat clones and no dogs, this company, based in Sausalito, will
happily take your $1,395 (plus $150 a year in storage fees) along with Fido’s or
Fluffy’s DNA, on the off chance you can one day afford to pay the remaining
$30,000 to order up your clone. All this while, millions of healthy and
adoptable cats and dogs die every year only because there are not enough homes.

I’ll admit to being especially fond of animals, but I don’t know any pet
lover who would willingly comply with a process that caused the pain and
suffering of hundreds of animals to clone his or her favorite pet. Once people
really understand that the odds are better than not that the clone will not act
and possibly not even look like the animal they hope to replace, most are
turned off. They’re among more than 80 percent of the American public who are
opposed to pet cloning, according to a poll commissioned by the American Anti-
Vivisection Society. Those who fall for cloning’s false promise are being
misled, blinded by the grief of losing their beloved companion, or are more
interested in vanity and novelty than they are in what it means to be a companion
in the first place.

. . .

Don’t be fooled by the cute photos. For every one of those kittens and
puppies that they bring out into the light, there are hundreds more who suffered
to make that photo op possible. The “promise” of pet cloning isn’t humane —
to either the animals or the humans involved. It is a consumer fraud and an
animal welfare atrocity.

An atrocity!

The American Anti-Vivisection Society, which failed in its efforts to get the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate pet cloning firms, issued a press release that said, in part,

This experiment strongly reinforces the scientific consensus that animal cloning is consistently inefficient and results in traumatic animal suffering. According to the dog cloning study to be published in Nature August 4, 2005, multiple cloned embryos were transplanted into each of 123 dogs resulting in only three pregnancies and two live births. Of the two cloned Afghan hound male puppies, one survived; the other suffered respiratory distress and succumbed to aspiration pneumonia at three weeks of age.

In broader terms, this extremely inefficient pet cloning methodology may lead to misuse of pet cloning for profit and could seriously compromise the welfare of countless dogs. The American Anti-Vivisection Society is particularly concerned about the situation in the U.S. where pet cloning is unregulated, and the industry has been aggressively marketing pet cloning to veterinarians and potential consumers. AAVS, anticipating this event, has led a series of efforts to prohibit pet cloning and educate the public, including producing a report detailing the dangers of pet cloning, co-sponsored legislation in California to prohibit the sale of cloned pets, filing a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requesting regulation, continuing to meet with USDA, and keeping the media and consumers informed about the issue.

That legislation, also endorsed by United Animal Nations, has so far failed to make it out of committee in the California legislature.


Good grief, Snuppy. Jennifer Fearing, San Francisco Chronicle, August 10, 2005.

Is the tail wagging the dog? Neal Barnard, Ft. Worth Star Telegram, August 12, 2005.

Effort Underway to Put Greyhound Racing Ban on Massachusetts Ballot in 2006 or 2008

Anti-greyhound racing group Grey2K USA recently filed proposed language for a ballot question to ban greyhound racing Massachusetts.

The proposed ballot initiative was filed with the state’s attorney general. If the language of the proposal passes muster with the attorney general’s office, proponents of the ban will have to gather 66,000 signatures to place the initiative in either the 2006 or 2008.

In 2000, Massachusetts voters rejected a similar ballot initiative in a very close vote.


Petition to ban greyhound racing is off and running. Emelie Rutherford, Daily News Staff, August 4, 2005.

South Korean Researchers Clone Dog

South Korean researchers in August reported that they have succeeded in cloning a dog — the first time that species has been successfully cloned.

Veteinarian Woo-Suk Hwang led the team that cloned the Afghan hound. Hwang had previously cloned cows, pigs, and a variety of cows that are resistant to mad cow disease.

Unlike those animals, however, cloning dogs is a bigger challenge since dogs don’t respond ot the hormons used to stimulate ovulation. Cloning dogs required monitoring more than 100 female dogs. In all, 1,095 embryos were transferred to 123 surrogate dogs resulting in just 3 pregnancies. Only two of those were carried to term, and one of those dogs died from aspiration pneumonia at 22 days old.

The puppy that did survive, however, appears to be a completely normal Afghan puppy and is now 3 years old.

Hwang is also an expert at stem cell production, and in 2004 successfully derived stem cells from a cloned human embryo. His research on dog cloning will soon shift to developing a line of embryonic dog stem cells which could potentially be used in understanding and treating human diseases.

Animal rights groups weren’t exactly happy about the announcement. Despite the enormous difficulty in cloning dogs, Humane Society of the United States’ Wayne Pacelle told the Associated Press,

This technology could lead to a brave new world of puppy production if it were hijacked by profiteers seeking to use cloning to supply the pet trade.


South Korean scientists clone dog. Peter Gorner, Chicago Tribune, August 3, 2005.

Snappy response to Snuppy’s birth. Joseph Verrengia, Associated Press, August 5, 2005.

Dog cloned in South Korea. Bryn Nelson, Newsdady, August 2005.