Comedian and Emmy award-winning talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres, has joined with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to urge the Taiwanese government to refrain from using beagle puppies for rabies experimentation.
According to PCRM, the Taiwanese Council of Agriculture is planning on conducting rabies experimentation on beagle puppies and other animals after the country experienced its first case of rabies in more than fifty years last summer. The deadly experiments were proposed to see whether the puppies could be infected with the specific rabies strain.
Associate director of laboratory medicine Kenneth Litwak, D.V.M., viral immunologist Sarah Cavanaugh, Ph.D., and toxicology research fellow Mei-Chun Lai, Ph.D., knew there was no question among rabies experts that the dogs would succumb to the virus. The scientists immediately began a campaign condemning the experiments as cruel and unnecessary and calling for valid research conducted without harming animals. Worldwide media were also alerted to the Taiwanese Council of Agriculture’s (COA) plans to subject the puppies to paralysis, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, muscle spasms, and death—all to show that the puppies could be infected with rabies.
News of the looming experiments on beagle puppies and other animals soon spread to international celebrities, who Dr. Lai invited to write letters on behalf of the Physicians Committee.
“As a long time advocate for the welfare of animals, I would like to join the many physicians, scientists, and veterinarians who have encouraged the Taiwanese government to avoid experimenting on live animals in its efforts to combat the rabies virus in Taiwan,” DeGeneres writes in a letter that is set to be delivered to Taiwanese officials. “I understand that the proposed experiments, which would involve infecting beagles, mice and ferret-badgers with the deadly rabies virus, are neither humane nor scientifically necessary.”
“No one would want to think of forcing live animals to go through experiments in which they develop rabies and ultimately die from it. Experts from the international scientific and veterinary communities agree that the infectivity of rabies viruses and the resulting course of infection in animals have been well established,” DeGeneres added. Using animals in experiments “is not necessary for protecting public health.”
Actor and film producer Alec Baldwin also joined the fight against experimenting on beagles. “I have two dogs myself, and want them to be safe from the threat of rabies, so I understand your concern about the recent rabies outbreak in Taiwan and your desire to protect the city’s animals and humans. But infecting beagle puppies with this new strain of rabies isn’t the answer,” writes Baldwin.
“Having lived and worked in Taiwan, I know it to be a place of progressive ideas and practices,” writes actress, animal rights activist, and former fashion model Maggie Q. “I am concerned that these experiments are a step backward, not forward. I strongly believe that the lives of animals matter and that we must not cause harm to one to protect another when the only result will be to prove what has already been repeatedly demonstrated,” she added.
Veterinarians also spoke out about the ethical problems of the experiments. “I would have thought that Taiwan is at the forefront of modern science and ethical responsibility toward animals,” wrote Katie Loeffler, D.V.M., Ph.D. “It comes as a significant surprise to me to learn that Taiwan is planning such a primitive and inhumane experiment.”
Join Ellen DeGeneres and the more than 85,000 scientists and concerned citizens across the globe who have signed the petition urging the COA to halt the experiments.
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