Change That Counts – Center for Laboratory Animal Welfare

Change That Counts – Center for Laboratory Animal Welfare – Brief Article

Gus W. Thornton

Every so often, news media report another case of laboratory vandalism, an attack on researchers–such as the recent mailing of booby-trapped letters to primate researchers (NewsScan, page 6)–or the theft of lab animals, whose special needs are often not understood by their so-called liberators. Do violent or unlawful acts help animals? The answer is clear: absolutely not.

Within the animal-protection community there is room for a range of tactics: some groups tend to be more confrontational, and some, like the MSPCA, strive to maintain open dialogues with researchers and the governmental, educational, and industrial forces that directly affect the way lab animals are used and housed. Sometimes the more adversarial approach may ease the way for other groups willing to adopt a more reasoned, cooperative approach. But criminal acts do little more than slam the doors shut.

Through our Center for Laboratory Animal Welfare (CLAW), we strive to keep the lines of communication open to achieve the most comprehensive change possible for the largest number of research animals. This has worked on a number of fronts. For instance, veterinarian Peter Theran, director of CLAW, was invited to serve as the animal-welfare representative on a committee charged with advising the National Institutes of Health on the long-term care and management of chimpanzees in research. Currently, CLAW is pushing to see legislation (H.R. 3514) passed that would establish a sanctuary system so that hundreds of chimpanzees can be permanently retired from further biomedical research.

CLAW is also urging changes in federal law that would make it easier for federal agencies to get reliable information on alternatives to live-animal testing. We have been actively seeking decisive government support for replacing millions of mice that suffer to produce antibodies for biomedical research with a technique that clones antibodies from a single cell.

Acknowledging progress is part of the process. Procter and Gamble’s efforts to promote the acceptance of alternatives in product testing were recognized by the MSPCA a decade ago. The company has continued to work for alternative acceptance and recently announced that, except where required by law, it will eliminate animal testing for about 80 percent of its products.

Please help us keep progress for lab animals moving forward. To find out how you can help, please give us a call. Or visit our Web site at and click on “laboratory animals.”

COPYRIGHT 2000 Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group