Skip to main content
  1. News Release

  2. Aug 31, 2021

Billboards Surround Wayne State, Tell Stories of Dog Deaths: “Chest Cavity Filled With Blood”

Michigan Legislators Join Physicians Group in Calling On Wayne State to End “Fruitless” Experiments

DETROIT, Mich.—The national nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and state legislators are urging Wayne State University to end its decades-long use of canines in painful, deadly heart experiments. The organization, which has 17,000 physician members nationwide, installed four billboards in Detroit, including three within blocks of the Wayne State campus, that share details about dogs who recently died at the university. 

Several Michigan legislators are also speaking out about the experiments. Eleven senators and representatives, led by Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, sent a letter today urging Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson, MD, to “finally end these fruitless experiments and instead focus on research that is human-relevant and that benefits the people of Michigan.” In June, Sen. Paul Wojno, D-Warren, introduced Senate Bill 582, which is co-sponsored by four Wayne County senators and would prohibit Wayne State and other publicly funded institutions from conducting painful experiments on dogs. Lastly, Rep. Matt Koleszar, D-Plymouth, is preparing to introduce a resolution next month “to encourage Michigan’s public universities to eliminate painful experiments on dogs.”

Through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, the Physicians Committee has obtained veterinary records for hundreds of dogs used and killed in heart failure and hypertension experiments at Wayne State. The records showed that employees performed multiple invasive surgeries and implanted medical devices in the animals’ bodies before forcing them to run on treadmills while artificially elevating their heart rates. Three dogs who died in 2019 are featured on billboards while a fourth billboard, which is partially obscured by trees, references the secrecy of the experiments. 

One billboard reads: “Dog #2002: KILLED IN A DETROIT LAB WHEN HER CHEST CAVITY FILLED WITH BLOOD Sept. 23, 2019.” The necropsy report for dog #2002 revealed that a device implanted by Wayne State staff created a hole in her aorta, which caused blood to accumulate in her chest cavity and resulted in a painful condition known as a hemothorax. 

“Each of these dogs, like so many others, suffered and died at Wayne State,” said Ryan Merkley, Director of Research Advocacy at the Physicians Committee. “For three decades, these experiments have failed to produce a single treatment for the millions of Michiganders suffering from heart disease while wasting millions of dollars in taxpayer money to literally run dogs to death.”

The Physicians Committee and legislators point to the many nonanimal research methods that are providing human-relevant findings, including a functioning human heart model created by researchers at Michigan State University. Elsewhere, scientists use diseased hearts from patients undergoing transplants or hearts

donated for research to collect human-relevant data. The Texas Heart Institute, which is dedicated solely to addressing cardiovascular disease, stopped using dogs in studies in 2015.

To see the billboard artwork, the letter from legislators, Rep. Koleszar’s resolution, or the dogs’ veterinary records, or to speak with Mr. Merkley, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or rpohl [at] pcrm.org

Media Contact

Reina Pohl, MPH

202-527-7326

rpohl[at]pcrm.org

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

More on Ethical Science