PETA to Texas Governor and Health & Human Services Commission: Shut Down Animal Labs

Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases, Group Slams Waste of Animals’ Lives, Taxpayer Money and Risk to Public Health

For Immediate Release:
December 9, 2020

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Austin, Texas – Spiking COVID-19 cases are compromising Texas’ reopening plan, and PETA is calling on the governor and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to cut cruel animal experiments statewide—starting with tests on animals, many of whom institutions deemed to be non-essential in response to the pandemic—and protect human health by having staff not come into laboratories to conduct worthless experiments.

In its letter, PETA points out that during the initial COVID-19 shutdown, universities in Texas issued guidance deeming many of their experiments—and the animals used in them—extraneous, which resulted in the apparent euthanasia of numerous animals in their laboratories, including the following:

  • Baylor University asked its experimenters to “[i]dentify any non-critical research experiments that can be ramped down or delayed” and to “avoid extra or unneeded rodents and reduce colony size.”
  • Texas A&M University (TAMU) asked its staff to “[s]uspend all research activities that have not been approved as essential,” “[c]ancel all outstanding animal orders for non-essential research,” “[c]ontinue to reduce cage census,” and “not initiate new animal studies.”
  • The University of Texas at Arlington urged its staff to “[r]educe your colony size by eliminating animals that will not be used in experiments” and to “[r]educe the number of breeding cages in your colony if you will not be using these animals.”
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio asked its staff to “DELAY initiation of new, approved animal experiments that would increase the number of cages in-house,” to “focus their efforts on maintaining or decreasing the current number of cages in their rodent colony,” and to “review current rodent cage counts with their staff and remove excess from their census.”
  • The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston requested that its staff “not initiate any new animal projects and consider reducing current rodent colony size as much and as quickly as possible,” “reduce experiments and animal use whenever possible,” “[l]imit rodent breeding to maintenance of replacement breeders only,” “[d]elay experiments requiring significant post-procedural care,” and “[d]elay non-time-sensitive animal experiments.”

PETA questions why animals deemed by the universities to be extraneous are being bought, bred, trapped, or experimented on in the first place and notes that staff conducting these experiments are being put at unnecessary risk as a result of working in close proximity to others. In addition, if animal testing resumes and Texas shuts down again, more animals may be euthanized, wasting taxpayer money that could have funded superior, human-relevant studies.

“This pandemic should be a wake-up call to shift away from experiments on animals and toward a ‘new normal’ of modern, non-animal research methods,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is calling on state officials to learn from the past and keep all animals from suffering in cruel and wasteful tests.”

More than 90% of results from basic scientific research—much involving animal testing—fails to lead to treatments for humans, and 95% of new medications found to be safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials.

PETA previously called for an audit of public money, personnel, property, equipment, and space used by TAMU and the University of Texas System for animal tests deemed non-essential, noting that the universities received nearly $3.4 billion in state appropriations in the last fiscal year, some of which may have funded such animal experiments.

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 PETA.org, click here, or follow the group on TwitterFacebook, 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