Primate Freedom Project Publicizes University of Wisconsin Documents on Experiments that Lead to Researcher’s Suspension

The Primate Freedom Project recently released internal documents it obtained through an open records request about an experiment at the University of Wisconsin that led to a number of primate deaths and, ultimately, the suspension of the researcher.

Ei Terasawa, a professor or pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin, received approval to do experiments involving primates to study how the animals’ brains developed during menopause.
But Terasawa’s experiment was plagued by a number of problems. In one case, a monkey died because an attendant left a laboratory for lunch during an experiment. That was just one of at least four times when animals involved in experiments were left unattended when the protocols of the experiment required that someone be present at all times.

Other monkeys involved in the research were given drugs that had not been approved by the university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. In other cases, monkeys were given the correct drugs but at dosage levels that had not been approved.

According to the Associated Press, Terasawa was barred from working with animals for two years and the experiment in question was stopped. Eric Sandgren, chairman of the university’s IACUC, told the Associated Press,

It’s one of the most severe actions that the committee has ever taken.

Which seems, frankly, a mild punishment. If dereliction of duty and ignoring experimental protocols that leads to the unnecessary deaths of experimental animals garners only a two year suspension, what would a researcher have to do to be handed a more severe penalty?

Even more disturbing is that although Terasawa was suspended in 2004, her suspension and the circumstances surrounding it were never made public. The Primate Freedom Project’s distribution of the university’s internal documents on the case were the first opportunity that the public had to learn of this mess.

Not going public in 2004 about the suspension was beyond stupid. How can researchers expect to be taken seriously when they talk about their commitment to the welfare of the animals they use if they cannot even be open and honest about a case like this? Why in the world did the University of Wisconsin put itself in the position where Rick Bogle was the first person to talk to reporters and the public about the suspension of a research that happened last year?

The following University of Wisconsin internal documents are available regarding this case:

Sources:

U. of Wis. Records Show High Monkey Deaths. Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press, August 16, 2005.

UW monkey deaths during experiments raise questions. Aaron Nathans, The Capital Times, August 16, 2005.

Primate Freedom Project and University of Wisconsin in Fight Over Land Near University’s

Many weeks ago, Rick Bogle abruptly announced the cancellation of yet another Primate Freedom Tour in order to announce some Next Big Thing near the University of Wisconsin. It turned out that The Alliance for Animals and the Primate Freedom Project were in talks to buy land and sheds near the University of Wisconsin to set up an animal rights museum to protest the University’s primate research. Hardly the earth shattering revelation Bogle had promised, but hey it might come to rival the Mutter Museum.

A gentleman named Roger Charley owns a parcel of land that is situated between two University of Wisconsin research labs. Bogle claims that Charly reached a binding agreement to sell his property for $675,000.

But the University Research Park, an entity which is independent of but closely aligned to the University of Wisconsin, has offered Charly $1 million for the property, and Charly has said he does not have a binding agreement with the activists and is leaning toward selling to the University. Charly told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he fears the building might be used to stage attacks against the laboratories,

The money is certainly a part of it. But I’ve heard from various people at various levels, various informal and not-so-informal customers, neighbors, just giving their two cents. If something were to happen a year from now because I sold this building, I would feel pretty terrible. I feel terrible about the whole thing in the first place.

But someone like Bogle would advocate for or excuse violence, would he? Well, Bogle offered this statement to the Wisconsin State Journal on what might happen if the University of Wisconsin prevails and buys the property,

If you don’t allow civil discourse on a public issue to occur, then people become frustrated and they are going to act out. My fear is that more radical elements of the animal-rights movement will react in ways that are going to upset everyone. I think the researchers at the primate center would actually be safeguarded by having us there.

Hmmm, seems Bogle has an offer for the University that they just can’t refuse.

Bogle’s evaluation of the animal rights movement is pretty telling. If they’ll react with violence if they lose out on a simple property transaction, this is a movement that isn’t worth engaging at all until it renounces such nonsense.

Imagine the situation were reversed. Imagine if by chance a building near People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ headquarters went up for sale, and the Consumer Center for Freedom made an offer on said property only to see PETA try to trump that offer with a much larger one. If CCF then said, “If they don’t sell to us I’m afraid more radical elements of the anti-AR movement might react in ways that are going to upset everyone” no one would be fooled into thinking this was anything but a veiled threat. Moreover, PETA and other activists would be justified in denouncing such an obvious appeal and encouragement of violence.

Apparently, if the animal rights movement doesn’t get its way, it will take its ball and go home and then return in the middle of the night to vandalize and destroy the opposition. Yeah, that’s certainly dedication to free speech and civil discourse there, Rick.

That said, Bogle’s quite correct that if he has a binding contract with Charly that predates any offer or contract with the University Research Park, then that should certainly prevail, as it will in court if the contract he had with Charly is as airtight as Bogle claims. Charly, however, told the University of Wisconsin that his lawyer identified unspecified problems with the document he signed with Bogle.

Source:

UW wins round on disputed land. Karen Rivedal, Wisconsin State Journal, August 14, 2005.

Land between primate labs in dispute. Associated Press, August 11, 2005.

Activists Angered by Researchers Plans to Test Stun Gun Safety on Pigs

With the ongoing controversy in the United States over the safety of stun guns manufactured by Taser International, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison plans to use an animal model with pigs to test whether or not illegal drugs may be playing a role in the high profile deaths of individuals who have been tasered.

According to the Associated Press, since 70 people have died in North American since 2001 after being shot by Tasers (though that’s a pretty useless statistic, since it does not give any indication of how frequently Tasers are used by police).

Taser International maintains its devices are safe for use on human beings. The media, including the Associated Press, make much of the fact that the Tasers pump out about 50,000 volts of electricity, but typically fail to note that this electricity is delivered with only 0.04 amps.

Fifty thousand volts is certainly going to be extremely painful, but its difficult to see how a mere 0.04 amps could cause the death of an otherwise healthy person. Generally, fatal electrocution is believed to require 0.1 to 0.2 amps in otherwise healthy people.

So one of the possibilities is that those being shocked and killed by Tasers share some other factor that it is increasing their vulnerability to low-amp shocks.

Enter University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher John Webster. Webster has received a two year $500,000 grant from the Justice Department to study whether or not cocaine might make people’s hearts susceptible go going into fibrillation even from the sort of low-amp shock present in a device like the Taser.

Webster plans to conduct experiments shocking 150-pound pigs with a device to simulate the effect of a Taser in a human being. Webster will use three groups of pigs, one that will be administered cocaine but not receive the shock; another that will not be administered cocaine but will receive the shock; and a third that will be administered both cocaine and the electrical shock.

Webster told the Associated Press,

If the hypothesis is correct that Tasers do not electrocute the heart, then why are people dying in custody after they have been shot by Tasers? The people on our team have hypotheses why that’s true and we intend to answer that question. Our goals is to save lives.

Of course activists, especially People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, were out in force urging calls and letters to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to stop the experiments.

But in doing so, PETA once again revealed its scientific illiteracy. As Webster mentions above, his group’s working hypothesis is that Tasers alone are not capable of causing the human heart to stop. Webster states that hypothesis in his grant documents, which leads PETA to conclude,

But rather than designing a study that would utilize information available from humans who have been stunned with Tasers, they elected to revert to cruel and antiquated tests on animals. John Webster was the perfect person to satisfy their safety claims, as he is already convinced that Tasers do not cause fatal cardiac arrest.

In another press release, PETA quotes from Taser critic James Angelo Ruggieri, who claims that,

The information conveyed in many other of Dr. Webster’s slides is also problematic. For instance, in one slide, Dr. Webster asks the question:

“Is 50,000 volts from the Taser the problem?”

Dr. Webster then answers his own question:

“No … the current, time duration and charge are too small to cause electrocution of the heart.”

This unsupported conclusion serves to undermine his hypothesis and appears to be an attempt to predetermine the outcome of future experiments Dr. Webster proposes to undertake–demonstrating an unprofessional research bias and violating the basic precepts of equipoise.

Wow, give that man a Nobel Prize. Ruggieri and PETA have single-handedly reduced the work that scientists will have to carry out by denying that stating or testing a hypothesis is a necessary part of scientific research. Instead, scientists from now on will simply make bald assertions without any sort of evidence or investigation — a lot like PETA and Ruggieri already do.

Perhaps someday Ruggieri will bother to learn why real scientists like Webster perform experiments with control groups and varying levels of blindedness.

University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Eric Sandgren, who heads the university’s animal use committee, told the Associated Press,

I think this is an outstanding example of one of those questions that can only be answered using animals. Boy, there’s been a lot of deaths frmo this. If the altenrative is to go back to using bullets, let’s find out how to make this safe.

Sources:

Professor to test stun gun theories on pigs. Ryan Foley, Associated Press, March 28, 2005.

UW-Madison and John Webster—a Lethal Combination. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Undated.

He Wants to Do What? Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Undated.

Peter Young Arrested After Seven Years on the Run

Animal rights extremist Peter Young, 27, was arrested on March 21 after seven years on the run. Young was indicted in 1998 in a number of break-ins at fur farms in Wisconsin.

The government alleges that Young and Justin Samuel broke in to a number of fur farms and released the animals there. In 1999, Samuels was extradited from Belgium and plead guilty to two misdemeanors arising from the fur farm break-ins. As part of a plea deal, Samuel agreed to provide law enforcement with testimony against his co-conspirators, including Young, which made Samuels persona non grata among activists.

Young was arrested at a Starbucks in San Jose, California, after he attempted to shoplift several CDs. Fortunately, an on-duty, uniformed police officer was also in the Starbucks (these activists are brilliant, eh?) and arrested Young.

Young was being held in isolation after his arrest because he refused to have a tuberculosis test because it was not vegan. He was also whining that Santa Clara County corrections wouldn’t provide him with vegan food (though they did offer him vegetarian fare).

An obvious question is where Young has been for seven years and whether or not other activists have helped him hid. As Fur Commission USA’s Teresa Platt told the Mercury News,

I’d like to know who introduce him to this, and who indoctrinated him. And who’s been hiding him? You can’t tell me that nobody knew where he was for seven years.

Samuel served two years in prison for his part in the break-ins, and is reportedly living in San Diego, California.

Young could potentially serve life in prison if he is convicted an all charges.

Sources:

Activist eluded capture for years. Dana Hull, Mercury News, March 29, 2005.

Wanted animal rights activist arrested after 7 years on the run. Associated Press, March 29, 2005.

PETA and Bestiality, Round 2

In March, one Harold Hart, 63, of Neillsville, Wisconsin was arrested for allegedly had committed sexual acts with cows at a Greenwood, Wisconsin farm more than fifty times since 2004. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, of course, was all over this, but their reaction was a bit odd given Ingrid Newkirk’s previous claims about bestiality.

PETA’s Daniel Paden sent a letter to Clark County District Attorney Darwin Zwieg urging Zwieg to order psychological testing for Hart and waxed on about how people who have sex with animals are also supposedly more likely to engage in other criminal behaviors,

A recent study by Jory, Flemming, and Burton shows that 96 percent of offenders who had engaged in bestiality also admitted to sexual assaults on humans. When asked how many serial killers had a history of abusing animals, FBI supervisory special agent Alan Brantley, a psychologist who was formerly on staff at a maximum security prison, said, “The real question is, ‘How many do not?Â’” Experts agree that it is the severity of the behavior, not the species of the victim, that matters.

PETA’s Martin Mesereau also maintained there was a link between bestiality and other sex crimes, saying in a press release,

Studies show that offenders who commit bestiality often go on to commit sex crimes against humans. The community should follow this case closely because anyone capable of this kind of cruelty poses a definitive risk, not just to animals, but to fellow human beings.

If people who have sex with animals are so much more likely to engage in other criminal sexual acts, why was Ingrid Newkirk so nonchalant about it when defending Peter Singer’s claims about bestiality?

Singer, you might remember, was roundly criticized by most animal rights activists and groups for saying the following in a book review,

The potential violence of the orangutan’s come-on may have been disturbing, but the fact that it was an orangutan making the advances was not. That may be because [Birute] Galdikas understands very well that we are animals, indeed more specifically, we are great apes. This does not make sex across the species barrier normal, or natural, whatever those much-misused words may mean, but it does imply that it ceases to be an offence to our status and dignity as human beings.

The only prominent activist who came to Singer’s defense was Ingrid Newkirk, who said of bestiality,

If a girl gets sexual pleasure from riding a horse, does the horse suffer? If not, who cares? If you French kiss your dog and he or she thinks it’s great, is it wrong? We believe all exploitation and abuse is wrong. If it isn’t exploitation and abuse, it may not be wrong.

Following Newkirk’s claims, shouldn’t investigators first establish whether or not the sex between Hart and the bovines was consensual and or not? Certainly the fact that he apparently tied the cows up first might initially lead one to conclude that it was not, but perhaps the cows on this particular farm have some sort of bondage fetish. Either way, at a minimum — using Newkirk’s benchmark — bestiality may not even be wrong, much less lead people to commit sex crimes against humans.

Perhaps Hart’s defense should claim that he was merely taking noted animal advocate Ingrid Newkirk’s advice. No, wait a minute . . . if a judge learns Hart takes Newkirk seriously, that would be proof positive that he’s nuts.

Sources:

PETA pressures DA in cow-sex case. Marshfield News-Herald, March 9, 2005.

Peta Demands Jail Time, Psychiatric Intervention If Alleged Neillsville Animal Rapist Is Convicted. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, March 8, 2005.

Racine Fails to Pass Animal Guardian Ordinance — It Must Be Animal Cruelty!

In January, a Racine, Wisconsin, city commission committee voted unanimously against adopting an ordinance that would have changed all references to pet “owners” to pet “guardians” in the city’s ordinances. The animal rights activists pushing the change calmly replied that the committee’s decision itself constituted animal cruelty.

Racine’s Ad Hoc Animal Ordinance Committee rejected the proposed change for a number of reasons, according to The Journal Times (Racine, WI), including the fact that it isn’t clear how the change would affect the legal status of animals and the clear effort by animal rights activists to use the “guardian” language as the first step in changing legal consideration of animals from property to persons.

This drew the ire of the animal rights activists who had pushed the ordinance change. Alan Eisenberg, a board member of Racine’s HOPE Safehouse, told The Journal Times,

I deem their [the committee] conduct today to be brutally insensitive and in and of itself an act of animal cruelty.

Gee, you have to wonder who tipped the committee off that the guardian language changes are being promoted by clueless animal rights extremists!

The final decision on the proposed language change rests with the Racine City Council, but The Journal Times reported that it was expected to follow the committee’s recommendations.

Source:

Animal linguistics: In Racine, pets are still ‘owned’. Rob Golub, The Journal Times, February 1, 2005.

The Extremist:
The woman behind the most successful radical group in America
. Michael Specter, The New Yorker, April 14, 2003.