Dog’s Death in Texas A&M Lab Prompts PETA Complaint to Feds

Golden Retriever Was Apparently Sick for Months Before Dying Alone, Apparently Without Veterinary Intervention

For Immediate Release:
October 8, 2019

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

College Station, Texas – This morning, PETA filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture over Texas A&M University’s (TAMU) apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) related to the death of Lunes, a golden retriever in the university’s muscular dystrophy laboratory.

According to records just obtained through a Texas open-records request, Lunes—who was born in TAMU’s laboratory in 2013 and whose sperm was taken from him and used to breed five litters of puppies—suffered from a chronic lack of appetite, which is often an indication of pain, illness, or distress. In 2018 alone, more than 130 notations were made in his records by university staff stating that he left half, three-quarters, or all of his food uneaten. But there’s no indication in the records that his poor appetite was investigated or treated by veterinarians, and his deteriorating condition was apparently left unchecked. He was found dead in his kennel on June 24, 2019. The AWA requires that “pain and distress to animals” held in laboratories be minimized. By failing to closely monitor Lunes’ deteriorating health, it appears that TAMU allowed the dog to suffer beyond what would have been considered “necessary” for the purposes of any experimentation.

“After six years of being confined in Texas A&M’s laboratory, this golden retriever died alone in a barren concrete-and-metal kennel,” says PETA veterinarian Dr. Ingrid Taylor. “PETA is calling for an investigation into whether the university allowed Lunes to experience a slow, miserable death without providing appropriate monitoring and veterinary care.”

Under pressure from 500 physicians, many scientists, people with muscular dystrophy, and PETA, TAMU recently ended its breeding program for the canine muscular dystrophy laboratory, but its experiments on the remaining dogs continue.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group is calling for TAMU to close down its dog laboratory and allow the surviving dogs to be adopted into loving homes.

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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