NIH Will Investigate “Cruelty 101” Course In Response to PCRM Petition
The National Institutes of Health has announced it will investigate the controversial Spinal Cord Injury Techniques Training Course at Ohio State University in response to a PCRM complaint charging animal welfare violations.
In a petition filed last year, PCRM charged OSU with ignoring federal regulations requiring government-funded research institutions using animals to “minimize pain and distress,” to “minimize the numbers of animals used” and “to consider non-animal alternatives.”
Nicknamed “Cruelty 101,” the course requires students to surgically expose the spinal cords of mice and rats—a technique known as laminectomy—and drop weights on them to simulate human spinal cord injuries. Over the course of the three-week class, hundreds of animals are subjected to additional surgeries, laboratory procedures, and physically demanding behavioral exercises before they are killed. The course is funded in part by NIH.
According to PCRM, OSU’s course is not only cruel, but pointless given current spinal injury research using human neural cell lines, impact studies on cadavers, and clinical treatments and trials.
Little-known protection under Public Health Service
Although rats and mice are not protected under the federal Animal Welfare Act, all animals used in experiments are guaranteed some measure of protection under provisions of the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
The next spinal cord injury class is scheduled for July 15-20, 2005. University officials have so far refused to meet with PCRM and local activists to discuss their concerns about the course.