Texas A&M Violates Dogs’ Right to Live Freely, PETA’s Right to Speak Up for Them

Published by Katherine Sullivan.

Update: May 27, 2021

How does PETA spell “desperation”? “Texas A&M University.”

After the school refused to run one of our ads, which shows a dog suffering in its canine muscular dystrophy laboratory, on its buses, we filed a lawsuit against it for censoring free speech. The school tried to get the lawsuit dismissed, and when that failed, it admitted that its policy was unconstitutional. It’s now changed its advertising policy to allow only bus ads from Texas A&M itself and from commercial enterprises.

In other words, Texas A&M is so desperate to keep the truth about the laboratory hidden that it’s willing to blacklist all charity ads. This lawsuit may be ending, but PETA will continue our campaign to end the experiments and push for homes for the 20 dogs still trapped in the school’s barren cages. Take action below.

Update: March 16, 2021

HUGE legal victory! In a first-of-its kind ruling within the Fifth Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas has denied Texas A&M University’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit that PETA filed against it. The litigation challenges Texas A&M Vice President of Brand Development Shane Hinckley’s refusal to allow PETA to place an ad on the school’s buses showing a dog used in Texas A&M’s canine muscular dystrophy (MD) experiments.

Hinckley claimed that the ad violated Texas A&M’s advertising standards prohibiting ads that contain “political campaigns and viewpoints or endorsements”—but today’s court decision allows the case to move forward so that PETA can prove that this ban on “political” speech is unreasonable.

PETA is asking the court to declare that the school’s policy prohibiting “political” advertisements is vague and discriminates against the group’s viewpoint in violation of the First Amendment. PETA may now proceed to discovery to collect evidence from Texas A&M (where 20 dogs—at least 11 of whom are perfectly healthy—are still being warehoused).

20 Dogs at TAMU

See the ad Hinckley refused to run below. It features Peony, one of the many dogs at the university deliberately bred to develop a crippling and painful form of canine MD that left them struggling to walk, swallow, and even breathe.

Originally published on October 28, 2020

From censoring Facebook and YouTube comments to banning a man with muscular dystrophy (MD) from campus to now refusing to run an advertisement showing a dog in its laboratory, Texas A&M University (TAMU) has shown that it will go to just about any length to silence animal rights activists who want to help dogs suffering on the school’s campus. But we have a First Amendment right to speak up for these dogs, which is why we’re suing TAMU—again—for censoring free speech.

Texas A&M Peony dog lab bus ad

Yesterday, we filed a federal lawsuit against Shane Hinckley, vice president of brand development at TAMU, challenging his refusal to allow PETA to place the ad above—which shows Peony, a dog used in the school’s canine MD experiments, and the prompt “Imagine having your body left to science while you’re still in it“—on TAMU buses.

Hinckley claimed that the ad violated TAMU’s advertising standards, which prohibit ads that contain “political campaigns and viewpoints or endorsements,” but our ad contains none of these—opposing cruelty to dogs isn’t a run for political office. So we’re asking the court to order TAMU to accept and display the ad and to declare that TAMU’s policy prohibiting “political” advertisements is vague and discriminates against PETA’s viewpoint in violation of the First Amendment.

We previously filed two First Amendment lawsuits challenging TAMU’s deletion of comments about the dog laboratory on its official Facebook page and other social media sites. We prevailed in the first lawsuit, and the second is pending.

If TAMU would just shut down its canine MD dog laboratory, it could salvage what’s left of its image—rather than repeatedly violating the First Amendment in a futile attempt to save face.

Of course, TAMU is grasping at straws to avoid displaying our ad. Peony was one of the many dogs at the university deliberately bred to develop a crippling and painful form of canine MD that left them struggling to walk, swallow, and even breathe. She was subjected to painful surgeries and was regularly soaked in the drool caused by her enlarged tongue. She was euthanized at 22 months old. TAMU sanctioned all this suffering.

MD experiments on dogs have gone on for 40 years without producing a cure for MD in humans. Under pressure from our supporters, 500 physicians, and humans with MD, TAMU stopped breeding dogs to develop the disease. The lead experimenter has retired, and many of the nearly 100 dogs have been adopted into homes—but the laboratory still keeps 25 dogs imprisoned there.

We’ve repeatedly offered to take all the dogs still imprisoned by TAMU and place them in good homes. So what’s the holdup? Click below to join us in demanding action from the school:

Urge Texas A&M Board to Empty the Dog Lab

Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind