Target: Patricia A. Brown, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare
Goal: Stop experiments that torture animals and produce no beneficial research
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently published a release that charged the National Football League (NFL) Foundation with inhumane treatment of laboratory animals in ongoing experiments meant to provide research about common injuries experienced by American football players. Apparently, these trials are meant to replicate injuries and traumas from the football field, but in reality it consists of laboratory animals’ knees and skulls being crushed mechanically while the animals – mostly rats, mice, and dogs – are still alive.
PETA reports that the studies include “inflicting severe knee injuries on dogs, after which the animals are killed and have their legs cut off; repeatedly slamming heavy weights into rats’ heads to create brain and spinal cord injuries and skull fractures; and cutting open the heads of mice and delivering crushing blows to cause traumatic brain injuries,” and the release includes a short but disturbing GIF of a machine slamming a metal rod into a live rat’s head. PETA, who as Sports Grid reports has worked with many of the animal lovers throughout the NFL to produce anti-cruelty ads, called on the NFL Foundation to own up to and end the cruel experiments, which have even caused the death of animals due to the severity of inflicted injuries.
PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department Director Justin Goodman noted that “contrived head-injury studies have never yielded an effective treatment or preventive measure. They do not work and will not help players…Even the people conducting the experiments can’t figure out how they relate to real football injuries.” The NFL Foundation should not be funding research that by anyone’s standards is tantamount to blatant violations of animal rights, especially these experiments which have no real-world applications or justification. These experiments are a waste of time and money as well as representing a blatant disregard for animal welfare. PETA points out in its release that there are alternatives to providing better care for injured players, including clinical research trials as well as in vitro and in silico studies.
This private evil of the NFL Foundation’s “research” notwithstanding, the regulations protecting laboratory animals do need to be tightened so that other so-called charities and foundations cannot take advantage of the loopholes that allow animal rights to be flouted with impunity. The NIH’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) oversees and enforces the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The current system of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC) created under the Animal Welfare Act represents an ineffective protection against laboratory animal suffering, as only certain species are covered with limited protections. Even the Office of the Inspector General of the USDA found that the IACUC system failed in its capacity as a regulatory body to find adequate alternatives to animal testing and to provide the necessary oversight regarding humane treatment, veterinary care, and duplicate research. The OLAW needs to revise their standards without delay to protect laboratory animals from painful and unnecessary experiments, as industries seeking this research clearly are incapable of holding themselves to any standards of animal care.
By signing this petition you are calling on the OLAW to revisit their policies on the treatment of laboratory animals and to conduct a complete overhaul of their practices. You are encouraging the OLAW to pursue strict regulations on the use of animals for research purposes, and to provide consistent oversight for the protection of laboratory animals.
Dear Director Brown, VMD, MS,
I am extremely disappointed to find out about the NFL Foundation’s ongoing experiments that essentially torture (and often end in the death of) mice, rats, and dogs for no purpose, as the injuries inflicted on these animals in no way provide useful research for doctors treating football injuries. These experiments are tantamount to a blatant disrespect for animal rights, but according to existing protections under the Animal Welfare Act, which created the IACUC system for laboratory animal welfare oversight under your office, the NFL Foundation’s studies conform to US law.
Therefore, I am calling on the OLAW to revise their standards for the treatment of laboratory animals, increasing and tightening protections for animals who cannot advocate for themselves, so as to close loopholes of which organizations like the NFL Foundation continue to take advantage. I urge the OLAW to provide the IACUC system with the necessary regulations and tools it needs to pursue the protection of animal welfare to the fullest extent of the law. Please do not allow wasteful and cruel experiments like these to continue with impunity.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Janet Stephens via Wikimedia Commons