http://blog.helpinganimals.com/2008/05/ ... fy_the.php
This is really outrageous. As many of you know, I despise the fact that rabies vaccinations are required for dogs every three years and even annually in some states. I've read about all the adverse reactions and the belief of many holistic vets that rabies vaccinations confer immunity for a lifetime. Nobody would like to see the laws changed to allow dogs to be vaccinated for rabies less frequently more than I would. However, I draw the line at torturing animals in order to accomplish that.
Apparently, some people have no such scruples, such as two people whom I admired and respected up until recently, when I read the "Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust Research Study" for which one of them is fundraising and the other is the principal investigator. In this study, two rather large groups of beagles (each with at least 35 members―it's not known exactly how many) will be isolated for five years or seven years, depending on the group; at least 25 of them will be vaccinated; and then they will all be injected with rabies virus to see who dies and who doesn't. The man doing the experiment is Ronald Schultz, D.V.M., chair of pathobiology at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and an outspoken critic of the laws regarding rabies vaccinations, and the person raising the funds for the experiment is none other than W. Jean Dodds, D.V.M., a veteran of the holistic veterinary medical community. I find this terribly disturbing and hypocritical.
Death by rabies is ugly indeed. The virus infects the brain, causing encephalitis, and can also attack the spinal cord. There can be everything from fever and flu-like symptoms to anxiety, confusion, erratic behavior, aggression, disorientation, seizures, partial paralysis, coma, and death from respiratory arrest. One of the horrible aspects of the disease is that the jaw and throat become paralyzed, making it impossible to drink or even swallow one's own saliva, causing the characteristic drooling.
Of course, none of this is mentioned in Dodds' fundraising. I doubt that she would get a dime if it were. She is soliciting funds from dog lovers of all kinds, preying on their fears for their own dogs' health while totally misleading them. Her Web site and her flier contain not a single word about the negative aspects and gruesome details of the actual experiment. This is deceitful at best. The idea of torturing upwards of 70 dogs in order to improve the health of the rest of the dog population is no different from deciding to torture 70 children in order to improve the health of other children. Those 70 dogs matter! Each one matters! None of them wants to die a horrible death, be killed prematurely, or spend their entire life in a kennel.
We all want our own dogs to be healthy, but people with true compassion don't want that to be at the expense of any other dogs. I'm sorry to have to say it, but in this experiment, the ends, as laudable as they are, do not justify the means.
A better way to spend the $1.25 million being raised for these experiments would be to develop an acceptable serological method to test for rabies antibodies and immunity to the rabies virus.
It's interesting that the Rabies Challenge Fund folks are now saying they will attempt to make changes to the protocol after the experiments have begun on beagles (even though it is highly unlikely the USDA will agree to that since the experiments have already begun). So it is still likely that many dogs will die and many will die excruciating deaths.
As far as I can tell, RCF has made no attempts to date to get a serological protocol approved. The experiments being conducted by RCF are purely elective. Why not design a tenable serological protocol that can be approved by USDA? A serological method would allow data to be collected from volunteers rather than dogs stuck in a laboratory. Why were none of these efforts made before PETA began to shine a spotlight on the myriad of problems with RCF's plans?
With regards to RCF's statement that PETA should be working on this issue, we are indeed working on non-animal protocols for vaccine testing at both the USDA and the FDA. PETA has spent more than a quarter million dollars in recent years to develop non-animal testing methods. We're very happy to put our money where our mouth is!
Despite repeated requests, the RCF folks have refused to provide details including:
. the actual number of dogs involved in each study. The USDA gives only the minimum number of dogs that they must have data for at the culmination of the study, so logically RCF must use more dogs than the USDA's minimum of 70. However, RCF will not even answer this simple question.
. the conditions and socialization for the dogs. Dodds referred PETA to USDA's protocol for this information. USDA's protocol does not specify that dogs should be socialized or that they should receive toys or even a bed.
. how and when the dogs would be killed. RCF referred PETA to the USDA protocol for this information. USDA's protocol stipulates that even vaccinated dogs are to be killed and their brains examined. This is in direct contradiction RCF's current claim that it will adopt out the dogs who don't die.
RCF makes it appear that dogs will be killed at the first signs of rabies. Rabies is painful and its symptoms can begin quietly. Dogs will likely die of painful complications related to paralysis and inability to breathe.
No one is disputing how the immune system works and that dogs are most likely being over-vaccinated in many ways. However, a way to combat this is not to launch yet another study that will kill even more dogs.
Much more good could have come from an effort to change the way rabies vaccine efficacy is tested rather than to use more than $1 million to kill beagles.
We encourage the RCF to do better! They could not be doing much worse.
I have to say that I truly appreciate Kris's contribution to the board. I appreciate all of the updates on vaccine studies and vaccine related legislation. I think this is a very important topic that we should all be concerned about.
I do not, however, appreciate people who join message boards for the sole purpose of stirring the pot. Most of the people on this board either know each other from their participation on this board and other boards, and we've become pretty close over the years.
I also concur with Sully, PeTA is a despicable organization that has nothing to do with loving animals and everything to do with eliminating pet ownership altogether.
PETA Attack Continues-Rabies Challenge Fund Updated Response
Below is an updated copy of Dr. Dodds' response to PETA'S allegations, her responses are in red. Beneath that is information I compiled which may help dog owners understand why this research is necessary.
Please see the series of e-mails and my responses to PETA. You'll see that I did answer each letter in good faith in a timely manner and not as alleged by Dr. Dozier. Additional information and responses are below.
By the way, perhaps the current PETA people are unaware that over the years I've provided PETA --- upon their request -- pro-bono extensive review and scientific opinion about the research records obtained under FOIA concerning certain inhumane, invasive primate research experiments. I've been roundly criticized by my peers for this activity, as you can well imagine ! I'm the Past -President of the Scientist's Center for Animal Welfare and a 20 + year member of AVAR -- the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights -- which has now joined HSUS; among other long standing activities in the humane community (40 + years).
Here at last are my responses to the further comments on the RCF protocol and PETA's allegations. Under separate cover, I'm forwarding you the actual letters I sent the 2 people at PETA upon their initial and repeat inquiries. You'll see that I answered them immediately and forthrightly.
Jean (W. Jean Dodds, DVM)
Thank you for your email regarding the Rabies Challenge Fund (RCF). Please be aware that we attempted to correspond with W. Jean Dodds (co-trustee and veterinarian responsible for the RCF) for a number of weeks in April and May of this year. During that time, we tried to clarify a number of issues surrounding the RCF experiments, yet we received nothing of substance in response to our questions.
We have repeatedly asked the study organizers:
1. To supply a copy of the protocol so that we (and other experts who collaborate with PETA) might help redesign the study so that dogs are not killed at the end of the study, and so that the study might be done in the most humane way possible). Did that in an attachment to my first response to PETA.
2. The number of dogs to be used as part of the two concurrent studies, how far along the study had progressed (have the dogs been purchased from a laboratory animal supplier, have they been vaccinated, are they already housed in the RCF facilities, etc.). Answered that too. The study began last fall, as described.
3. What efforts RCF had made to avoid killing all of the dogs they are using in their study. Dr. Ron Schultz has undertaken informal dialog with USDA senior officials , in his capacity as advisor to the vaccine industry and regulatory body. He has decades of experience in the field and attends meetings with these folks regularly. At this point, we have not made progress in changing their views, BUT, he and I together are planning to present a more formal proposal to them. We have 4 + years to accomplish what we view as an important need to change the regulations as currently written for endpoint challenge testing -- before anything involving challenge of these healthy dogs (vaccinates and controls) with rabies virus has to take place according to the current regulatory protocol.