PETA Files Complaint Over Staged Fights Between Animals in ‘Roid Rage’ Lab Studies

PETA Alleges That Northeastern University Experimenters Are Apparently Violating Massachusetts Anti-Cruelty and Anti-Fighting Laws

For Immediate Release:
April 30, 2015

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


PETA is calling on the Massachusetts attorney general to investigate evidence showing that experimenters in the psychology department at Northeastern University are conducting experiments that involve forcing hamsters to engage in fights—an apparent violation of Massachusetts’ statutes against animal fighting and cruelty to animals. The experiments purportedly mimic steroid abuse and “roid rage” in athletes and adolescents.

According to records reviewed by PETA, Northeastern researchers purchase hamsters from commercial breeders; inject anabolic steroids, cocaine, and other substances into some of the animals; and then pit the hyper-aggressive hamsters against hamsters who haven’t been drugged in staged fights that are observed, videotaped, and “scored.” Since 1996, hundreds of animals have been used and killed in the experiments, which have received more than $3 million in taxpayer money from the National Institutes of Health—and $306,000 just in 2015.

“Forcing animals to fight is cruel, and apparently illegal, whether it involves dogs or hamsters or it happens in a garage or—in this case—a publicly funded laboratory at Northeastern University,” says PETA Director of Laboratory Investigations Justin Goodman. “It is unconscionable that experimenters would subject animals to such thoughtless cruelty rather than  taking advantage of sophisticated brain imaging technology and other human-centered research methods that could be of actual relevance to young athletes and teens who abuse or are addicted to steroids.”

During the fights, hamsters are scored based on how many times they lunge at, trap, bite, or attack the front, rump, or belly of their opponent. The steroids injected into the hamsters, combined with the hamsters’ solitary and territorial nature, cause the animals to become aggressive toward one another. After some fights, the experimenters declare one animal the “winner” and the other the “loser.” Some animals are forced into multiple fights against different hamsters in a sports-style tiered bracket system, while others are killed and have their brains dissected.

PETA is calling for an investigation and asking that, if appropriate, charges be filed against these experimenters for violating state animal-protection laws. The organization’s letter to the Massachusetts attorney general is available upon request.

For more information please click here and to contact Northeastern University please click here.

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