Written by PETA
Conditions for animals who were tormented in experiments at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW-Madison)—where sheep were abused and killed in cruel and illegal decompression experiments, among other horrors—are apparently so bad that they have prompted one of the university's own veterinarians, Richard "Jim" Brown, to call it quits over animal welfare concerns.
Some of the issues Brown complained about included that pigs were transported in an open pickup truck during the bitter cold of winter, rats and mice died after being deprived of food and water, and insects were flying around in a room in which a primate was undergoing surgery, creating unsanitary conditions. Brown's complaints were apparently met with contempt, and he says that he faced reprisals for speaking up for animals.
These allegations aren't surprising, considering UW-Madison's sordid history of Animal Welfare Act violations and its refusal to release information related to the university's invasive and deadly taxpayer-funded eye-movement experiments on monkeys and cats. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently investigating UW-Madison for its ongoing failure to comply with federal animal welfare laws.
Will the loss of one of its own prompt UW-Madison to clean up its act? We'll keep you posted, but in the meantime, let's continue to speak up for the countless animals who are suffering in laboratories at UW-Madison and on college campuses across the country.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
It's not often that we use the word "great" to describe anything involving vivisectors, but a recent development involving a petition filed by PETA and Madison-based Alliance for Animals against sheep experimenters at University of Wisconsin (UW)–Madison is just that: Circuit Court Judge Amy Smith has determined that nine individuals may face criminal penalties for conducting excruciating and deadly decompression experiments on sheep.
You might remember that PETA and Alliance for Animals joined forces to petition for prosecution after a district attorney shrugged off his own findings that UW-Madison had indeed violated state law using decompression to kill sheep. The D.A. apparently decided that it wasn't worth his time and effort to pursue charges.
After reviewing our petition, Judge Smith decided that animal experimenters are not above the law, determining "that probable cause exists to conclude that certain named individuals … violated [a state law prohibiting the use of decompression to kill animals], either directly or as party to a crime." That means that both the vivisectors and those who assisted them with their experiments may face criminal or civil prosecution. In her 24-page decision, Judge Smith also wrote, "[T]he University has apparently engaged in behavior resulting in the above-described animal deaths for years," and noted that "it may well continue to decompress animals to death contrary to law, unless I take action." She has appointed a special prosecutor to determine whether to bring charges against the nine UW-Madison employees.
Considering that this is possibly the second time that a judge has found probable cause for criminal charges—the first was PETA's landmark Silver Spring Monkeys case—it's no wonder that news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and others are buzzing about this important development.
We'll keep you in the loop on future developments as they happen, but we—and animals—are depending your efforts to help stop animal experimentation.
Written by Karin Bennett
Back in the '80s, when many people still thought that PETA was a Middle Eastern bread, a funny actor from Oklahoma became our first champion in Hollywood and helped establish the organization as a household name. She was Rue McClanahan, the flirty "Golden Girl," and she became so active that she was PETA's honorary director for almost three decades.
I was still PETA's receptionist when I wrote to Rue and asked if she would star in our first anti-fur commercial. You can imagine my delight when I answered the phone to hear Rue say that not only would she do it, she had gotten Bea Arthur and Betty White to appear, too, and had even convinced the producers to film it for us free of charge on the set after one of their Friday-night tapings. From then on, Rue became a key PETA operative in Hollywood as well as a personal friend; she even let me use her dressing room as a makeshift office, as PETA had no office in L.A. back then. I left my post at the reception desk and started developing campaigns with high-profile personalities thanks in large part to Rue's enthusiasm.
Growing up in the country, Rue had always been shocked to see the glee that many people derive from hunting and fishing—and she had been mocked for her concern—so she felt relieved to get involved with an organization that made no apologies about defending all animals. After winning an Emmy, Rue did the talk-show circuit and always found a way to discuss her PETA activism, telling viewers, with that gracious smile, that not only was she anti-fur, she also opposed animal experimentation. In Salt Lake City, she took time off from the Touched By an Angel set to host PETA's video for a landmark factory farm cruelty case. In Las Vegas, she led a protest outside a furriers' convention. In Virginia, she launched PETA's mobile spay-and-neuter clinic. And in New York, she hosted a saucy PETA benefit at Chippendales. One muggy summer, she returned to Oklahoma, where PETA had filmed elephant trainers beating animals who were performing in the circus, to screen that footage at the state capitol and call on lawmakers to outlaw bullhooks.
When floods ravaged the Midwest, Rue flew to St. Louis to make appeals for people to include animals in their evacuation plans. She starred in public service announcements urging people to spay or neuter their animals and always to adopt from animal shelters rather than buying from pet shops or breeders (there were four shelter dogs at that shoot, and she took all of them home). She opened her house for a PETA benefit and told guests that "Rue" is French for "street" and that she always wished her last name had been "Walker."
But my favorite memory of Rue was when we traveled to New Mexico, where she helped push through legislation to outlaw cockfighting. When a reporter asked if there would be any naked protesters, she just smiled and replied, "It's not that kind of cockfight."
If animals could sing, I have no doubt that they'd serenade Rue with the Golden Girls theme song: "Thank You for Being a Friend."
Written by PETA Senior Vice President Dan Mathews
P.S. To make a gift for animals in Rue's honor, please visit our True Friends Memorials page.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.