Letter to the editor: Lab rearing conditions underscore scale of animal testing problem

“Beagles have landed: 100 rescued dogs head to new homes in Maine” (September 4):

Marc Gup, a volunteer with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland in Westbrook, greets two beagles unloaded from a Wings of Rescue plane at the Portland International Jetport on Sunday. About 100 beagles were brought to Portland from a total of 4,000 beagles rescued from a Virginia breeding facility where the USDA found abusive conditions. Gregory Rec / Personal Photographer

Each year, more than one million animals, including tens of thousands of beagles and primates, are bred and used to test the safety and effectiveness of new drugs. Even before arriving at a lab, beagles were left in their own filth, malnourished, sick, injured and in some cases dead at a single facility run by Envigo, which was reported by PETA following their investigation. This breeding facility supplies dogs to pharmaceutical companies, universities, and other testing operators required by the Food and Drug Administration.

The abuse of beagles, wild primates and a wide range of other species, hidden from the public, continues due to an outdated system 83-year FDA tenure in our drug development programs. As long as this requirement exists, we cannot get away with a million animals a year being used for drug testing.

There are better predictors of human response, and the continued use of animals is hampering scientific advances and advances in treatments for human disease.

Both our US senators from Maine support a solution to this outdated and cruel model of animal experimentation right now. As an animal behaviorist and advocate, I encourage U.S. officials in Maine to add their support now to ensure FDA modernization becomes the new model for drug development, ending decades of torment for beagles and other animals who suffer unnecessarily.

FDA modernization will be the catalyst for a transition to modern science.

Gina Garey

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