Animal Defender With Muscular Dystrophy Wins PETA Award for Saving Dogs From Texas A&M Lab

For Immediate Release:
November 17, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

College Station, Texas – A Hero to Dogs Award from PETA is on its way to Johnathon Byrne, an animal defender from Norwich, England, with muscular dystrophy (MD) who helped PETA shut down the notorious canine MD laboratory at Texas A&M University. The school has said it will release the last of the remaining healthy dogs for adoption by the end of the year.

During PETA’s six-year campaign, Byrne flew to Texas to rally with other PETA supporters outside the Texas A&M president’s office and the School of Veterinary Medicine and disrupted an alumni event in San Antonio at which Michael Young, the university president at the time, was a keynote speaker. When Byrne requested to see the dogs used for experiments in Texas A&M’s laboratory, he was detained by police, banned from campus, and then held again at the airport before he flew home. Byrne also appeared in ads that went up in Post Oak Mall and across Houston calling for an end to the tests on dogs, which had continued for 40 years despite failing to produce a cure for MD.

“Thanks to Johnathon Byrne’s heroic determination and compassion, these sweet and trusting dogs will finally have loving homes after enduring agonizing pain in Texas A&M’s laboratory,” says PETA Vice President Dr. Alka Chandna. “PETA encourages anyone moved by Johnathon’s inspiring example to speak up for animals in need and support humane, animal-free research.”

Texas A&M has ended its canine MD breeding program, shut down the laboratory, and released 60 dogs unaffected by the disease for adoption. PETA first exposed the laboratory in 2016, when it released video footage revealing that golden retrievers and other dogs were being bred specifically to develop a crippling form of canine MD that humans don’t acquire. The dogs were used in painful experiments that involved biopsies and a device that stretched their muscle tissue. Video footage shows them chewing on their cage bars with no comfortable place to lie down.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 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