By: Patti Strand  Date: 02/5/2004 Category: | Research Reports |

Incredible advances in human and animal health have been made as a result of carefully designed and implemented research protocols. Vaccines, anesthetics, pain medications, surgical procedures, diagnostic tests, therapeutic drugs, treatment plans for diseases and injuries, and preventive practices have been developed through animal research. At the same time, scientists have improved the care of animals used in biomedical research. They have also developed methods to reduce the number of animals needed, refine the techniques that involve animals, and replace animals with alternatives when possible.

"In the real world people and animals sometimes suffer devastating diseases or catastrophic, debilitating injuries," said Patti Strand, president of the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA). "That is why NAIA proudly supports the research scientists who devote their lives to finding cures, alleviating pain and suffering, and preventing chronic and acute diseases."

The company we keep

NAIA supports carefully designed research conducted under the regulations of the National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, and under the watchful eyes of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees. These agencies and associations require humane treatment of animals used in various protocols. NAIA also applauds science-based changes in laboratory animal care and behavior, and encourages future changes as warranted.

Animal researchers continue to report new successes, as well as high expectations for future progress. NAIA lauds the courageous scientists, companies, organizations and agencies that perform with integrity and demonstrate a strong commitment to high animal welfare standards while conducting vital research. Here are some examples:

1. Government scientists working with monkeys have developed a vaccine against the dreaded Ebola virus, a debilitating and often deadly disease that is a potential terrorist weapon. Human clinical tests of the vaccine began in November 2003

2. Pfizer is pursuing promising research on compounds that have shown activity against malaria, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and small pox, diseases that are not common in the US but have epidemic potential, especially in nations with large populations and limited health resources. The company is also devoting considerable resources to the fight against the scourge of HIV/AIDS and has donated $500 million worth of its antibiotic Zithromax to fight trachoma, a parasitic disease that has blinded about six million people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

3. Merck funds ongoing research and treatment of river blindness, a deadly disease that affects more than 25 million Africans. Of note, the drug first used to treat river blindness, Ivermectin, was developed by Merck scientists to treat parasite infections in domestic animals. Working with the federal government and other vaccine manufacturers, Merck has turned its expertise to a developing a vaccine for SARS.

4. Procter & Gamble, a favorite target of anti-research activists, is a leader in reducing the number of animals used in research and in developing alternatives to animal use. P&G is a member of the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at Johns Hopkins University.

5. The Gillette Company, another target of animal rights extremists, has also reduced its use of animals in testing and spent millions of dollars in developing alternatives.

6. In 2002 the Iams Company, a division of P&G, launched an innovative program to enhance the well-being of dogs and cats in its nutrition studies by providing a full-time Animal Welfare Specialist on-site. This employee's job was to look after the socialization and enrichment of its pets while making sure that the facilities offered a high quality environment. PeTA attacked this program by filling the Animal Welfare Specialist role with a PeTA undercover spy at Sinclair Research Center. Instead of caring for the welfare of the pets entrusted to her, the spy used her time creating sensational stories to enhance PeTA's fundraising opportunities.

7. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug for Parkinson's disease developed by Novartis.

NAIA stands proudly by these and other research efforts that improve the quality of life for animals and people throughout the world. NAIA's board includes several scientists who have vast experience in animal care, high ethical standards, and deep commitment to improving the humane treatment of animals.

The company they keep

NAIA and some of our board members have come under fire from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a radical animal rights group that uses half truths, distortion, intimidation, coercion, and spies to denigrate research, accuse scientists of cruelty, and shock potential contributors into opening their wallets.

Given the company PeTA keeps, we wear these attacks as a badge of honor.

Top federal crime-fighting officials have described the company PeTA keeps as a serious terrorist threat. In testimony to the US Congress, James F. Jarboe, Domestic Terrorism Section Chief, Counterterrorism Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, said: "During the past several years, special interest extremism, as characterized by the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front, has emerged as a serious terrorist threat. Generally, extremist groups engage in much activity that is protected by constitutional guarantees of free speech and assembly. Law enforcement becomes involved when the volatile talk of these groups transgresses into unlawful action. The FBI estimates that the ALF/ELF have committed more than 600 criminal acts in the United States since 1996, resulting in damages in excess of $43 million dollars."

Government records show that PeTA provided at least $70,000 to convicted Animal Liberation Front arsonist Rodney Coronado and his family, who set fire to government-funded university research labs in several states.

A pattern of hate speech and criminal incitement

Destruction of businesses, organizations, and individuals who oppose PeTA's agenda is a fast-growing aspect of the animal rights movement. Character assassination and trumped-up charges are an integral part of PeTA's modus operandi. PeTA beneficiary Coronado tells activists how to make bombs, and often, within hours of his speeches, arson, vandalism and other criminal acts take place. PeTA sends an undercover spy into a lab, a vet clinic, a farm, or other facility where animals are kept, and scientists, veterinarians, farmers, and others become victims of hate, intimidation, threats, vandalism, and economic sabotage based on carefully edited videotapes designed to provoke outrage rather than to accurately portray the operations. Organizations or individuals that speak up for the victims of such insidious attacks suddenly find themselves awash in baseless allegations of wrongdoing from animal rights extremists.

PeTA skillfully uses the US Constitution as both a sword and a shield, hiding behind the First Amendment protection of free speech to make wild, unfounded charges that would violate laws, regulations, or codes of conduct if made by commercial companies or individuals in regulated industries. At the same time, the organization lashes out at anyone who dares to challenge its accusations and activities with even more outrageous claims that often incite followers to commit crimes against animal interests.

Truth is beside the point to PeTA. Their goal is to defile animal research as cruel and unnecessary; to raise money with self-serving, lurid descriptions of laboratory protocols and animal treatment chosen to provoke potential donors into writing big checks; and to intimidate companies, educational institutions, and organizations into canceling contracts and projects. The hours and hours of video-tapes recorded by undercover operators are edited to a few minutes or less of out of context footage and sent to media outlets with press releases and commentary that describe conditions that only they have been able to find.

In their own words

In the newspeak world of PeTA, accusations become the reality. Lack of evidence means nothing - the intent is to destroy those who disagree.[see voices from the dark side]

"Damaging the enemy financially is fair game." - PeTA founder Alex Pacheco, Washington City Paper (December 18, 1987)

"Do you know that fat little guy from Seinfeld? He has become the main pitchman for KFC, Jason Alexander. And beginning in May he is going to star in the West Coast production of 'The Producers.' It's made for us. We can be slamming him as the play opens. If we do this properly, he will wish he never saw a chicken." - Dan Matthews, PeTA's director of media relations, The New Yorker (April 14, 2003)

"If you can take Ronald McDonald and turn him into a psychotic, bloody butcher . that's going to adversely affect McDonald's' stock price." - Bruce Friedrich, PeTA's vegan coordinator, "Animal Rights 2002" convention (July 2, 2002)

"Even if animal tests produced a cure for AIDS, we'd be against it." - PeTA founder Ingrid Newkirk, Vogue (September 1, 1989)

"I will be the last person to condemn ALF [the Animal Liberation Front]." - Ingrid Newkirk, The New York Daily News (December 7, 1997)

"I wish we all would get up and go into the labs and take the animals out or burn them down." -Ingrid Newkirk, "National Animal Rights Convention" (June 27, 1997)

"Our nonviolent tactics are not as effective. We ask nicely for years and get nothing. Someone makes a threat, and it works." -Ingrid Newkirk, US News & World Report (April 8, 2002)

"Throughout the late '80s, me and a handful of friends just like you people here, we started to break windows, we started to slash tires, we started to rescue animals from factory farms and vivisection breeders, and we graduated to breaking into laboratories . As long as we emptied the labs of animals, they were still easily replaced. So that's when the ALF in this country, and my cell, started engaging in arson." - Convicted arsonist Rodney Coronado, and PeTA beneficiary, at the SHAC rally against Huntingdon Life Sciences, Edison, New Jersey (November 30, 2002)

A final word

NAIA stands proudly with scientists who devote their lives to easing the human condition, providing aid for animals in pain, developing strategies to prevent diseases, and refining their research techniques to reduce the use of animals where appropriate. These research scientists do honorable work that saves lives. PeTA uses subterfuge, distortions, and misrepresentations because they have no rational arguments against these efforts and cannot raise money by honestly and fairly challenging that work.

The anti-human, inhumane values of PeTA are far outside the mainstream of public opinion. Those who preach violence and destruction in the name of animals deserve the "terrorist" label. NAIA joins the majority of Americans in strong support of continued biomedical research to save lives and alleviate suffering among humans and animals alike.

About The Author

Patti Strand's photo
Patti Strand - NAIA President

Patti is a recognized expert and consultant on contemporary animal issues, most notably responsible dog ownership and the animal rights movement. She often appears on radio and television and her articles on canine issues, animal welfare, public policy and animal rights have appeared in major US news publications and in trade, professional and scientific journals. Patti and her…

All Authors Of This Article: | Patti Strand |
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