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Health Charities: Helping or Hurting?

When you donate to a charity, do you know where the money actually goes? Might your gift be contributing to animal suffering? Some health charities ask for donations to help people with diseases and disabilities yet spend the money bankrolling horrific experiments on dogs, rabbits, rats, mice, primates, hamsters, pigs, ferrets, frogs, fish, guinea pigs, sheep, birds, and other animals. While human-health needs cry out for attention and many people go without medical care, animal experimentation drains money from relevant and effective projects that could truly help save lives.

Pain for Profit
The American Heart Association (AHA) funds countless studies in which animals have their hearts damaged, have their arteries sewn shut, and are exposed to noxious substances like cigarette smoke. In one AHA-funded study, tubes and wires were implanted into dogs’ hearts in order to speed up their heartbeats for three weeks until the dogs suffered heart failure.(1) Another group of AHA-funded experimenters killed baboons by injecting them with lethal doses of E. coli.(2)

Experimenters funded by the March of Dimes sewed newborn kittens’ eyes shut for a year and then killed them; others chemically blinded 4-to-12-week-old kittens by injecting drugs into their brains for four straight weeks, killing many of the cats in the process.(3,4) The March of Dimes has funded these “blinding” studies for decades in order to show that depriving cats of normal vision alters the development of their brains—which is already a well-established scientific fact. The March of Dimes has also given millions of dollars to experimenters who have administered nicotine, cocaine, and alcohol to pregnant animals, even though we already know from human clinical experience that these substances can harm developing babies.

Shriners Burns Institute has conducted burn experiments on live mice, rats, guinea pigs, pigs, dogs, and sheep for years. Experimenters there burned pigs over 40 percent of their bodies and then induced sepsis by pumping E. coli into their internal organs in order to test how treating the infection helps burn victims to recover, even though burn victims are already routinely given antibiotics to fight infections.(5)

At Boys Town National Research Hospital, experimenters starved cats for months, implanted tubes and wires in their throats, cemented metal devices into their skulls, and cut open kittens’ heads in order to sever the nerves in their brains—all in the name of curing deafness. Undercover investigators from PETA documented serious violations of federal law at Boys Town, including failure to provide veterinary care to sick animals, use of outdated drugs, and the absence of post-surgical painkillers.

Healing Without Hurting
Fortunately, animal-friendly philanthropists can give to Easter Seals, Helen Keller Worldwide, the Children’s Burn Foundation, the Breast Cancer Fund, the Spinal Cord Injury Network International, and hundreds of other compassionate, cruelty-free charities that know that using up-to-date, non-animal testing methods is the best way to help people in need.

For example, Easter Seals helps children and adults with disabilities through a nationwide network of service sites that offer medical rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, and job training.

Eye-health fieldworkers at Helen Keller Worldwide help guide blind people to productive lives through rehabilitation training. The Children’s Burn Foundation provides financial resources to meet severely burned children’s physical, psychological, and social needs and educates children and their families, caregivers, and emergency providers about burn prevention and treatment.

The Breast Cancer Fund offers free information, resources, and referrals to breast cancer patients, survivors, and their families as well as to medical professionals and their organizations and the media. The Spinal Cord Injury Network International provides information and referral services to individuals with spinal cord injuries and their families.

These charities accomplish all this and more without wasting one penny on animal experiments. Other forward-thinking health charities rely on human volunteers, clinical studies, autopsy reports, and statistical and epidemiological analysis to produce useful data on people with diseases and disabilities. Human cell cultures and tissue studies, in vitro tests, and artificial human skin and eyes mimic the body’s natural properties and provide scientists with less expensive alternatives to animal tests, and sophisticated virtual organs serve as accurate models of human body parts.

What You Can Do
• Before you donate to a health charity, ask if it funds animal experiments. Don’t contribute until you have a written guarantee that animals are not being used.
• Let charities that fund animal tests know that you only give to those that don’t harm animals.
• Contact PETA for a free list of charities that do and that do not fund animal experiments.

1) R.L. Kao et al., “Cellular Cardiomyoplasty Using Autologous Satellite Cells: From Experimental to Clinical Study,” Basic and Applied Myology 13 (1) (2003): 23-8.
2) C. Lupu et al., “Tissue Factor-Dependent Coagulation Is Preferentially Up-Regulated Within Arterial Branching Areas in a Baboon Model of Escherichia Coli Sepsis,” American Journal of Pathology 167 (2005): 1161-72.
3) M. Sur et al., “Expression of a Surface-Associated Antigen on Y-Cells in the Cat Lateral Geniculate Nucleus Is Regulated by Visual Experience,” Journal of Neuroscience 8 (1988): 874-82.
4) K.M. Friel and J.H. Martin, “Role of Sensory-Motor Cortex Activity in Postnatal Development of Corticospinal Axon Terminals in the Cat,” The Journal of Comparative Neurology 485 (2005): 43-56.
5) T. Tadros et al., “Opposite Effects of Prostacyclin on Hepatic Blood Flow and Oxygen Consumption After Burn and Sepsis,” Annals of Surgery 239 (2004): 67-74.

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