Experimental Methods

The Physicians Committee
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Stop Heart Failure Experiments in Dogs at Wayne State

Experimental and veterinary records, as well as research protocols and publications, were acquired by the Physicians Committee from public sources, and these were reviewed to determine what happens to the dogs in the experiments conducted at Wayne State University.

Dogs in these experiments are subjected to as many as four surgeries over a period of six to eight weeks, followed by weeks to months of exercising on a treadmill.

The records of the dogs named Freddie and Wilma, obtained from Wayne State, show that these dogs were unwilling to exercise on the treadmill, resulting in them being used for “practice” surgeries or other procedures, in which they were killed with little or no data being collected.

As illustrated by the veterinary records of the dogs named Rogue and Hazel, the first surgery involves making a large incision between the ribs and into the chest to expose the heart. Probes are then placed around the aorta and a coronary artery to measure blood flow. Another probe is stabbed directly into the heart to measure blood pressure.

A second major surgery usually follows about two weeks after the first, and in some experiments two additional surgeries are performed. By Wayne State’s own admission, one quarter of all of the dogs used in his hypertension experiment will be killed due to problems associated with the procedures. The 2008 version of the protocol titled “Integrative Cardiovascular Control During Exercise in Hypertension”—acquired by the Physicians Committee from Wayne State through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act—states: “We anticipate 25% instrumentation-barodenervation failure within the months of study that requires the animal to be withdrawn from a study and be euthanized.” However, all animals who make it through the full experiment will be killed as well.

If the dogs survive surgery, as many as 12 devices may be inserted in or around fragile blood vessels in the chest, abdomen, neck, and limbs, with wires and cables tunneled through the skin to be attached to monitors. Over time, these devices may cause strictures or erosions in the blood vessels, as illustrated by the hole worn through Rogue’s aorta, causing her to slowly bleed to death.

During the experiments, the dogs’ blood flow to their kidneys and/or the lower half of their bodies is occluded, causing hypertension. Heart failure is induced by rapid ventricular pacing using implanted electrodes. Dogs’ hearts are paced at 225 to 250 beats per minute (compared to the normal 70 to 120 beats per minute) for about four weeks to produce heart failure. Once heart failure is established, additional treadmill exercise experiments are performed. Protocols and veterinary records document that every dog used in Wayne State’s heart failure experiments dies, either from the surgeries, during the experiments (as when Rogue bled to death), when the probes or monitors become nonfunctional, or at the end of the experiment.