PETA always tries to explain to people that what is done to animals inside laboratories would be illegal if it happened anywhere else. Burning, shocking, or poisoning a dog would typically land someone in jail. But paradoxically, as long as the abuse happens in a laboratory and is called “science,” the people responsible for it are exempt from prosecution under cruelty laws in almost every state. Fortunately, there are some instances in which animal experimenters can be held legally accountable for tormenting animals, but we’re learning that even in those cases, experimenters seem to be above the law. As you probably could’ve guessed, we’re fighting to make sure that justice for animals is served!
Last year, Madison, Wisconsin’s Alliance for Animals filed a complaint with the district attorney of Dane County alleging that experimenters at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (remember them?) had violated the state’s Crimes Against Animals statute by killing sheep in U.S. Navy–funded decompression experiments (killing animals by decompression is specifically prohibited by Wisconsin law). The animals were placed in high-pressure hyperbaric chambers, and some died from the excruciating pain of decompression sickness (“the bends”), which occurs when bubbles of nitrogen gas form in the blood, muscles, and organs, including the brain. Did we mention that the French Navy and the U.K. Ministry of Defence no longer conduct decompression experiments on animals?
Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard investigated and concluded that UW-Madison did in fact violate state law by killing sheep by decompression. Incredibly, he decided that it wasn’t worth his time and effort to pursue charges.
Fortunately, there is a Wisconsin law that allows private parties to request that a circuit judge order the filing of a criminal complaint in cases in which a crime has been committed and the D.A. refuses to take action. So PETA and Alliance for Animals have stepped in to petition for prosecution.
We’ll keep you up to date on this case as it unfolds. In the meantime, please help us put an end to laboratory atrocities that are still taking place in campuses across the U.S.
Written by Karin Bennett