We are volunteer advocates for the Beagle Freedom Project Identity Campaign. As such, we have “adopted” cats who are currently being used in scientific experiments at Colorado State University. These cats are Tiger (known to CSU as #4466), a 2-year-old male gray tabby, and Bobby (known to CSU as #4478), a 2-year-old male long haired orange. We have named the cats as part of the identity campaign. Documents setting forth how the cats are being used were provided to us pursuant to our information requests under the Colorado Open Records Act.
“Our” cats were bred at CSU and came to their study as eight-week-old kittens. They were initially used to test a new vaccine against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), a feline equivalent to HIV. The vaccine proved ineffective, and the cats were infected with FIV during the course of the study. Tiger and Bobby are now being used to test whether two feline drugs that are already on the market for regular pet cats, ATOPICA (a feline allergic dermatitis relief) and Prednisolone (a feline steroid), can safely be used on FIV-positive pet cats. Tiger and Bobby are being bled regularly, have been treated to produce excess saliva and will undergo a high pain level surgical lymph node biopsy in connection with this study. We have asked to formally adopt “our” cats at the close of the study, but we were informed that they will be euthanized and necropsied for purposes of obtaining tissue samples.
It is not clear to us why CSU could not test these drugs by partnering with a veterinary clinic that is already treating cats with FIV and obtain tissue samples when the cats die after living their normal life. This is how ethical human clinical research works, and the same principle should apply to animals.
We have additional concerns. It appears from the documentation provided to us that CSU approved this study without conducting the legally required searches to determine whether the high pain level lymph node biopsy could be avoided and whether death as a study endpoint is scientifically and ethically warranted. There are at least 10 other cats in this study group that are also to be euthanized very shortly (one of them, Matthew, a 2-year-old male grey and white, known to CSU as #4456, was “adopted” by our fellow advocate Pam Harris). Despite our best and politest efforts to communicate with the CSU legal department, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and the relevant researcher, we are receiving no further response.
We feel strongly that Tiger, Bobby, Matthew and the other cats in their study group deserve the best possible retirement and that euthanasia is ethically unwarranted as a study endpoint in this case. There are loving homes and rescue groups waiting for all of these cats. We also believe that CSU, as a public institution, has an obligation to be transparent and forthcoming with us about the ethically questionable animal research it is conducting.
Johanna Schulte-Hillen , Los Angeles, California
Elizabeth Dixon, Seattle, Washington
Pam Harris, San Diego, California
Julie Radcliff, San Diego, California
Kerry Contini, Washington, DC
Marla Filipponi, San Rafael, California
Janice Raridon, Surprise, Arizona
Gail Manz, Rochester, New York
Joan McCune, Puyallup, Washington
Jeanette Neaves, North Bend, Washington
Christine Weinheimer, Bozeman, Montana
Mary Ann McDonald, Elkins, West Virginia
Linda Pope, Beaufort, South Carolina
Grace Jessen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Carol Majors, Northridge, California
Barb Kahoun, Orlando, Florida
Janet Gregg, Pikeville, Tennessee
Lynne Sherer, Chandler, Arizona
Brenda Lang, Chicago, Illinois
Debra Vermaat, Cottonwood, Minnesota
Tori Carpenter, Boulder, Colorado
Mari Lynn, Port St. Lucie, Florida.