Monday, 17 December 2018
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Nikki Sixx Blasts Texas A&M for Inhumane Dog Research

Nikki Sixx has joined People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to address a disturbing video showing dogs being used for medical research at Texas A&M University.

The former Motley Crue bassist wrote a letter to the school’s president, Michael K. Young, asking him to stop breeding dogs for medical research. The school breeds golden retrievers with the intention of them to develop muscular dystrophy, so they can be used for medical research in an attempt to find a cure for the disease.

PETA released a disturbing video showing the school’s golden retrievers suffering from muscular dystrophy. The dogs are all locked in steel cages with uncomfortable looking slotted metal floors. All the canines with muscular dystrophy look under-nourished and weak with some drooling uncontrollably. Meanwhile, there are healthy dogs, also locked up, anxiously walking around the cages and jumping at the door trying to escape.

Sixx, who has two golden retrievers, told Rolling Stone, “They’re my buddies, and I just want to make sure they’re happy and taken care of. When I’m on the road, I can’t wait to get home to them, so it crushes me to think about the dogs at TAMU who’re kept in metal crates, often without even a blanket. They don’t deserve that.”

In the letter, which you can read in its entirety below, Sixx writes, “These experiments need to end, and the dogs need to be released for adoption so that they can finally lead the lives that they deserve.”

He adds, “These animals are skinny, and their tongues are so swollen that they can barely swallow the mush they’re fed. They’re in pain, and they don’t have a family or anyone to comfort them – most don’t even have names. Dogs are loyal, wonderful companions and to think of them suffering every moment of their lives is heartbreaking. I just can’t believe that this is allowed to go on.”

Texas A&M quickly shot back claiming that the videos are taken out of context claiming the video was “secretly shot by a worker at the center in 2013 and released in 2016 by PETA.” In their response letter the school claims that one of the dogs in the video that is shown drooling and wagging its tail was “coming out of anesthesia after waking from a cardiac MRI” and “her drowsy, uncharacteristic behavior is common for an animal – or human – in recovery after a procedure.”

The school’s response letter also claims that the Food and Drug Administration “requires therapies be proven to be safe in animals before they can be tested in humans. Unfortunately, no complete alternatives to animal research exist at this time, though Texas A&M currently uses computer models, epidemiological studies, cell cultures and other alternative methods when possible, but none of those can give researchers the vital and comprehensive information that’s required.” It continues, “To test a drug’s effectiveness and whether it will be safe in a human, the impact of a new medication must be assessed in a living organism. Such testing is typically done in more than one species to include a rodent (usually mice) and a larger animal (such as dogs).”

Sixx says it simply comes down to common sense and humanity. “There’s nothing harder than watching someone suffer, and that’s exactly why these experiments need to end,” he claims. The bassist adds that these experiments have been going on for nearly 40 years and that they haven’t yet produced a cure or treatment for humans, while PETA claims that there are “modern, humane options available and actually more effective at producing relevant results.”

While the university is steadfast that they are doing the right thing, Sixx is calling for a boycott of the institution. See both letters below and if you want to sign the petition to have Texas A&M University stop breeding and using dogs for medical research click here.

Nikki Sixx’s Letter to Texas A&M University:

Michael K. Young

President Texas A&M University


Dear President Young,


I’m writing to you today after PETA shared with me the disturbing video documenting that golden retrievers and other dogs with canine muscular dystrophy are caged in barren metal cells—often alone—in Texas A&M University’s (TAMU) muscular dystrophy laboratory.


Despite 37 years of experiments on generations of dogs, these tests have not yielded a cure or even an effective treatment to reverse symptoms of the disease. This is no life for “man’s best friend.” These experiments need to end, and the dogs need to be released for adoption so that they can finally lead the lives that they deserve. A cure for muscular dystrophy must be found, but subjecting dogs to pain and misery is not the way. Given that these experiments have never produced beneficial results, TAMU’s resources are better applied elsewhere—and in a more compassionate direction.


Please end this cruel practice, stop breeding dogs, and allow the ones who are currently suffering in your laboratories to be adopted by families who will give them lives filled with love and care for the time they have remaining. Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.


Sincerely,

Nikki Sixx

Texas A&M’s Full Response to Sixx:

Texas A&M University appreciates this opportunity to correct and clarify misleading information regarding our Duchenne muscular dystrophy research, which has been distributed repeatedly by the animal rights group PETA for more than two years. We would like for Rolling Stone and its readers to have all the facts involving this important inquiry because it benefits humans and animals.


Human clinical trials, based in part on studies in dogs, currently are underway:



  • Data from the Duchenne muscular dystrophy research conducted at Texas A&M University’s Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences led to permission being given by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a company to conduct a human clinic trial for young people suffering from the disease.

  • The gene therapy aims to deliver a healthy and synthetic version of the dystrophin gene — which is a protein that DMD patients lack that’s responsible for muscle movement — to cells to overcome the protein deficiency.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a serious disease primarily of boys that cuts young lives short:



  • DMD is a terminal disease that leads to wheelchair dependency in affected boys before their teen years even begin.

  • While many treatments have been evaluated in the past few decades – all with the help of animal studies – only recently have scientists and physicians been able to develop treatments that target the actual disease cause.  Most scientists and physicians believe that treatments will ultimately entail a combination of approaches including gene therapy and drugs.  


Following the law:



  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires therapies be proven to be safe in animals before they can be tested in humans. This is especially true of treatments that carry high risk, such as gene and stem cell therapies.

  • Unfortunately, no complete alternatives to animal research exist at this time, though Texas A&M currently uses computer models, epidemiological studies, cell cultures and other alternative methods when possible, but none of those can give researchers the vital and comprehensive information that’s required.

  • To test a drug’s effectiveness and whether it will be safe in a human, the impact of a new medication must be assessed in a living organism.  Such testing is typically done in more than one species to include a rodent (usually mice) and a larger animal (such as dogs).


Why dogs?



  • Research has proven that the version of DMD in dogs — more than any other animal — closely mimics the human version of the disease.

  • The gene abnormality that causes the disease is very similar in both humans and dogs. We have similar physiology and immune response systems. Therefore, studies in dogs help predict what will happen in humans.  This is also true of other diseases and treatments that have been tested, including hemophilia, genetic blindness, joint replacement surgery, and bone marrow transplantation.

  • Whatever helps humans with the disease, also helps the dogs with the disease. Remember, DMD also impacts dogs and a numerous breeds have been naturally born with the disease.  


‘A moment in time’ exploited in video:



  • Animal activists have repeatedly used a video of a Golden Retriever cross named Jelly, shown with food on her face. The activists suggest the dog was being fed “gruel.” A Texas A&M veterinarian who helped care for her explained these moments captured on film: “Jelly had a reputation as a messy eater — it was just her eating style. She had an enlarged tongue so she had her own special method of eating. Their food is of the highest nutritional value and once she’d finish, caregivers always cleaned her up. We all were so sad to see her exploited in the video because that wasn’t her life: It was a moment in time. Jelly easily was one of the happiest dogs here.”

  • Another dog, Poeney, is shown drooling (and wagging its tail) in slow-motion footage distributed by animal activists. However, they never explain that the dog is shown coming out of anesthesia after awaking from a cardiac MRI. Her drowsy, uncharacteristic behavior is common for an animal — or human — in recovery after a procedure.

  • The video was secretly shot by a worker at the center in 2013 and released in 2016 by PETA.

  • Never tortured: A medical instrument is used to measure the strength of the dogs’ muscles. These results are very useful to predicting whether a treatment will be effective.  Strength also is a major indicator of treatment efficacy in people.  The procedure on dogs is done while the dog is under anesthesia and lasts less than 20 minutes. The test is done two or three times in the dog’s life has no after-effects, e.g., dogs are not painful and have no lameness.


Care of the dogs:



  • As one of the veterinarian caregivers explains: “These dogs are loved from the moment they are born until they leave this Earth.” They receive around the clock veterinary care at a world class facility that opened in 2016. They play outside, and have toys and friends to play with.

  • Most of the dogs have a roommate in their “dog condo;” those who do not have a buddy only do so because they have shown that they prefer their own space. As is the case with pets, some dogs are more social than others. All have daily interaction with people.


Transparency:



  • The DMD research at Texas A&M started in 2012. It has never been issued a citation or violation with regard to the care of these dogs. The work performed at Texas A&M’s world-class center is highly-regulated and there is rigorous oversight by multiple organizations, including:


–       USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)


–       NIH (National Institutes of Health)


–       AAALAC (International nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs)


–       Texas A&M University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee


For additional information regarding animal research, please take a moment to go online and learn more:



  • Texas A&M University: research.tamu.edu/medical-research-and-education-using-animal-models/

  • Americans for Medical Progress: amprogress.org

  • Speaking of Research: speakingofresearch.com

  • Foundation for Biomedical Research: fbresearch.org

  • Animal Research Information: animalresearch.info


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