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Along with nearly 250,000 supporters so far, two Texas A&M students are petitioning their university to end the cruel and useless laboratory research that involves housing, breeding, and experimenting on Golden retrievers with various forms of muscular dystrophy.
The research, led by Dr. Joseph Kornegay and funded by taxpayer dollars, is being conducted in the hopes of developing new treatments for the disease in humans. As part of the research program, dogs are bred to develop different types of muscular dystrophy, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a particularly severe form of the disease that causes progressive muscle wasting and weakness.
“While DMD occurs in nature in both children and dogs, the disease is not as severe in dogs, which means dogs offer a unique opportunity to learn as much as possible, thereby helping all affected by DMD,” university spokeswoman Amy Smith said.
But, according to protesters, in the 30+ years of ongoing research on MD dogs, not a single viable treatment or cure has been developed.
The Change.org petition reads:
At my university, Texas A&M in College Station, experimenters led by Joe Kornegay breed golden retrievers to develop different types of muscular dystrophy (MD), including Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which is a particularly severe disease. These diseases ravage their bodies, causing progressive muscle wasting and weakness. Studies with these dogs haven’t led to a cure or even a treatment to reverse disease symptoms, even after experimenting for 30 years.
Dogs who didn’t have the disease but carried the DMD gene were used for breeding. Deprived of loving homes, they frantically paced the slatted floors and bit the bars of small cages in frustration. They didn’t even have the comfort of a blanket.
To gauge just how much a dog’s muscles have deteriorated, Kornegay has invented a crude technique that could pass for medieval torture: He repeatedly stretches them with a motorized lever in order to cause muscle tears.
Kornegay has been at this for more than 30 years. Puppies in his laboratory who are born with DMD are so weak at birth that they require extra nutrition. By 6 weeks of age, their hind limbs have shifted forward, making walking difficult, and some are unable to open their mouths or jaws.
But, Smith asserts that, “after years of study, we are close to a promising novel treatment involving gene therapy,” noting that the Federal Food & Drug Administration requires new medications to be tested on at least two animal species before human trials are approved to start.
Texas A&M also contends that the dogs used in the experiments are treated with “great care and tenderness for the heroes that they are.”
Undercover video recorded by students and passed along to PeTA, however, tells a different story.
WARNING: This video may be difficult for some viewers
In a December 2016 interview, Kornegay said there is no other way to conduct the federally funded research. “I’m a dog lover. I’m a veterinarian. I’ve had dogs all my life,” he said. “So every time we have a research project we want to be as sure as we can that the research will be valuable because the dogs are valuable. Not financially valuable, but valuable as individuals.”
Please sign the petition urging Texas A&M University to close their dog laboratories, stop breeding MD dogs, release all dogs for adoption into good homes, and redirect their resources into humane research methods.