Billboard targets WSU’s use of dogs in research

The Detroit News

A group of animal rights activists has erected a billboard in Detroit spotlighting medical experiments at Wayne State University — a practice they continue to protest.

Sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the 14-by-48 poster near campus depicts a dog named Madonna, which the group says died Aug. 4, 2014, in a university laboratory. According to documents the group said was obtained from Wayne State through Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act: “Heart failure was artificially induced in Madonna by surgically implanting pacing wires in her heart and forcing it to beat faster than normal. … Experimenters implanted numerous devices into her body and compelled her to exercise on a treadmill. Madonna was later killed when bleeding from one of her surgeries could not be controlled.”

The committee said Metro Detroit physician Sharon Kemper, an assistant professor, clinician educator and full-time affiliate at Wayne State, plans to testify Sept. 25 before the university’s board of governors and deliver petitions calling for an end to the dog experiments.

“Madonna and the other dogs in the Wayne State laboratory were used for painful heart failure experiments that have failed to provide any benefit to human patients,” Dr. Kemper said in a statement.

Wayne State officials defended the experiments in a statement Tuesday, saying: “Animal research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century — for both human and animal health. From antibiotics to blood transfusions, from dialysis to chemotherapy, bypass surgery and joint replacement, practically every present-day protocol for the prevention, treatment, cure and control of disease, pain and suffering is based on knowledge attained through research with animals.”

The National Institutes of Health scientists consider Wayne State’s research data and peer-reviewed journal articles “valuable contributions to cardiovascular research,” university officials said. “The animal laboratories at Wayne State are subject to surprise inspections, veterinary oversight, and intense scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Agriculture; our record is exemplary.”