People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) fired off a letter to University of Connecticut President Thomas Katsouleas last Wednesday, demanding UConn take action to stop experimentation with animals and to be more transparent with information regarding the status and numbers of the animals currently being used in experimentation.
This request from PETA comes after UConn, in order to adhere to its COVID-19 contingency plan, “instructed its experimenters to ‘immediately reduce animal numbers and number of cages’ and informed them that ‘no increases in cage counts will be permitted,’ which will lead to the killing of at least hundreds of animals,” Keith Brown, a Science Writer for PETA, said in a press release.
In the letter, PETA calls on the university to put an end to the breeding of new animals for experimentation, as well as to finalize ongoing animal experimentation, among other things.
“We urge the University of Connecticut (UConn) to immediately: 1) prohibit approval of new animal protocols and experiments; 2) prohibit breeding and acquisition of new animals for laboratories; 3) finalize and end ongoing animal experiments; and, 4) prove that all of these animals and experiments are concretely advancing human health,” the letter said, “and if they’re not then switch to superior human-relevant, animal-free research methods.”
The letter also calls into question the necessity of these experiments that are funded by “taxpayer dollars” and criticizes the experiments for not being critical to human health.
“This begs the question why taxpayer dollars are being used on experiments that can easily be ended or delayed or that involve animals who, apparently, are considered to be extraneous to the testing in the first place,” the letter said.
The letter goes on to request information from the university about the number of animal experiments that will continue after the officials have deemed them “nonessential,” the number and species of animals being used in the experiments and how many animals will be killed as a result, as well as a timeline of when this would be occurring.
According to a PETA Action Alert, UConn is one of dozens of institutions that the organization has sent a letter to. Other schools included are Johns Hopkins, Yale, University of California-San Diego, Washington State, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Michigan, among others.
“Leading a national effort, PETA has fired off letters to dozens of institutions that have directed staff to ramp down experiments, designate high numbers of animals as nonessential, and then kill them as part of the schools’ COVID-19 response,” the Action Alert said.
UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said that UConn supports the humane treatment of laboratory animals used in research, education and testing. She also noted the continued accreditation of UConn’s Animal Care and Use Program by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC).
“The University expects all of its animal facilities, programs and researchers to maintain high ethical standards for animal care and use, and to follow applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, policies, and guidelines,” Reitz said. “UConn regards the use of animals in research, teaching and testing to be an integral component of continued progress in science, education and agriculture, and essential to the pursuit of medical and scientific discovery that advances human and animal health.”
Amanda Kilyk is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached at email@example.com.