Apparent Corruption Results in Closing of NJ SPCA Chapter

In October the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took the extraordinary step of ordering its Hunterdon County chapter to shut down over revelations that came about due to the manslaughter trial of former NBA star Jayson Williams.

Williams was ultimately acquitted of aggravated manslaughter charges, but convicted of attempting to cover up the fatal shooting of a limousine driver. The jury deadlocked on charges of reckless manslaughter, and Williams is scheduled to be retried on that charge in 2005.

One of the revelations that was barred from being entered into evidence was that Williams had shot and killed his dog after losing a bet with a teammate about the dog’s effectiveness as a guard dog (for more details on that incident, see this story).

That raised the question of why Williams had never been prosecuted for animal cruelty, and the evidence pointed to corruption. Two weeks after the August 2001 shooting of the rottweiler, the Hunterdon County SPCA accepted a $500 donation from Williams and no criminal charges were ever filed against him. The New Jersey SPCA has subsequently filed civil charges against Williams, which is its only option since the statute of limitations on the dog shooting has long since expired.

New Jersey SPCA president Stuart Rhodes told the Associated Press that Hunterdon SPCA executive director never replied to letters he sent asking her to explain her failure to prosecute Williams,,

I was looking for her [Carlson] to explain reasons why she didn’t prosecute Jayson Williams. She should have at least entered the charges. But by doing nothing, she allowed him to walk. And then you accept a donation?


SPCA closes chapter in ex-NBA star’s case. The Associated Press, October 11, 2004.

Animal Rights Groups Offer Reward for Evidence of Abuse at Salk Institute

Last Chance for Animals and San Diego Animal Advocates garnered some press earlier this month in a transparent publicity attempt — the two groups offered a reward of up to $30,000 for evidence of animal cruelty at the Salk Institute.

In a press release announcing the offer, the San Diego Animal Advocates said,

In conjunction with the Los Angeles-based group Last Chance for Animals, SDAA is offering a reward of $20,000 for information leading to the conviction on animal cruelty charges of a principal investigator and the Salk Institute in San Diego, after our groups were tipped by an anonymous source that animals are being mistreated.

. . .

We will also offer a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to official sanctions and termination of grants and research projects at Salk for animal abuse. These rewards are necessary to expose the truth because employees are threatened with loss of their jobs.

Last Chance for Animals Chris De Rose said in a prepared statement,

Salk officials have refused to meet with us to discuss the information we received. So now we are going directly to the employees who are witnessing this cruelty and asking them to help us expose it.

Jane Cartmill of San Diego Animal Advocates hints at the real reason behind this little stunt, complaining in a prepared statement about a recent $7 million donation to the Salk Institute by Qualcomm President and CEO Irwin Jacobs. The money will be used to fund the Crick-Jacobs Center for Computational and Theoretical Biology. According to a Salk Institute press release,

The goal of the center will be to help Salk scientists organize the wealth of information that is now available about the genes and proteins that regulate nerve cell activity as well as the networks of nerve cells that regulate brain function. Named to honor Salk Nobel laureate Francis Crick, the center will build upon Crick’s important work during the past two decades centering on consciousness and cognitive processing within the brain.

. . .

The center will allow computational biologists to mine the enormous amount of data on the composition of genes and proteins in the brain as well as the neural networks that regulate information processing. The ultimate goal will be to generate theoretical models to explain how the brain works, which then will be tested in Salk laboratories by experimental neuroscientists. To advance this work, the institute is in the process of recruiting up to four new faculty members to staff the center.

Cartmill is horrified at that prospect, saying that, “Brain-mapping experiments are among the most devastating to animals and involve tremendous deprivation and suffering.”

But apparently not so horrified as to bother to discuss his allegations with the Salk Institute. A Salk Institute spokesman told NBCSandiego.Com that it had tried to contact the group about the allegations but received no reply,

The Salk Institute takes all allegations of animal abuse seriously. On Oct. 22, the Salk Institute requested the San Diego Animal Advocates provide in writing the specifics of their unsubstantiated allegations about animal abuse. To this date, the institute has not received a response to its request.

Imagine that.


Salk Institute Receives $7 Million Gift to Establish Neuroscience Center Press Release, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, December 17, 2003.

Groups offer $20,000 for evidence of Salk animal cruelty. Sign on San Diego, January 2, 2004.

Animal research spurs advances in hemophilia

The past few weeks have brought very good news for hemophilia
suffers after two major advances in understanding and treating the disease
were announced.

First, in late February researchers at the Salk Institute
announced they had used gene therapy to treat hemophilia and dogs. The
treatment continued to work for 10 months in one animal.

Lili Wang and Inder Verma worked with four dogs who naturally
developed hemophilia B. In both dogs and human beings, hemophilia B is
caused by a genetic defect in a single gene for a blood clotting protein,
Factor IX. Because Factor IX production is controlled by only one gene,
it is a logical starting point for understanding and treating genetic

Researchers modified two genes, one to turn Factor IX production
on, and another to control the production of Factor IX, and then introduced
the genes through a virus they injected directly into the dogsÂ’ livers.
After the infusion of the virus, all the dogs began expressing Factor
IX, and the dog that received the highest dose produced enough Factor
IX to prevent spontaneous bleeding, the most dangerous part of hemophilia.
In the 10 months since the experiment, that dog still has not experienced
any spontaneous bleeding.

Verma said that because of the similar way hemophilia affects
humans and dogs, “[this experiment] suggests strongly that this approach
could work in humans afflicted with the disease.”

Meanwhile, in the first week of March news came of a somewhat
inadvertent success of a genetic treatment for hemophilia in human beings.
Doctors working for California-based Avigen conducted a small Phase I
trail to evaluate the toxicity of a hemophilia treatment that uses a virus
much like the experiment with the dogs that the Salk Institute conducted.
But although the test was only intended to test toxicity, the results
of the small three-patient trial suggest the drug may also be highly efficacious.
According to Dr. Mark Kay of the Stanford University School of Medicine,
“One patient had a 50% reduction in the need to administer factor IX and
the other had an 80% reduction.”


Gene therapy used to treat hemophilia
I dogs. Reuters, February 24, 2000.

therapy successful in treating hemophilia B, researchers say
. CNN,
March 1, 2000.

gene therapy success
. BBC, March 2, 2000.