Friday, July 20, 2012


I worked with The Fund For Animals campaigning on behalf of a bill introduced by state Senator David Roberti, a Democrat from Hollywood, to prohibit the use of dogs, cats, and other animals from pounds in research. The bill also made it a misdemeanor to cause pain and suffering to dogs and cats used in research. Opponents objected to those provisions as too vague and encompassing.
Roberti's bill did not prohibit researchers from using specially bred dogs and cats. But it was a first step to ending vivisection altogether. Besides stating what advances had come from the use of animals in research (of which there were few and couldn't we use other techniques anyway?), budget was one of their main arguments. Researchers claimed breeding animals for their use (at that time, about 10,000 dogs and cats per year in California), would add anywhere from $3 million to $23 million in costs. 
One strategy researchers used in their battle was to hold "open houses," inviting the media to tour certain facilities and see how "humane" the animals were treated. One such tour was scheduled to take place at UCLA and The Fund for Animals sent me as a spy.
I was nervous about going, afraid of what I would see. Gretchen Wyler had shown me videos that were secretly made in such facilities where animals were placed in what looked to me like torture devices in order to be used for experimentation. She also showed me footage from 1984 where the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) raided the University of Pennsylvania. ALF members picked the lock to Thomas Gennarelli's head injury research lab, releasing the animals and smashing every piece of equipment in that location. The footage revealed the most horrific glimpse ever seen inside a vivisection lab; inadequately anesthetized primates plastered into restraining devices receiving blow after blow to their heads. What if I walked in on a scene like that?
I joined a small group of people on the front lawn of the University's Research Lab, ready for battle. We were greeted by a  conservative looking, middle-aged researcher wearing a starched white lab coat and a plastered smile. As we walked the halls of the laboratory, we saw cages that were sparkling clean but no animals. They had obviously cleaned up and taken any and all the animals out of the facility. I was both relieved and enraged. 

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