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animal research & pop fiction

Douglas Fitts dfitts at u.washington.edu
Sat Jun 4 14:02:19 EST 1994

Portrayal of neuroscience and animal research in popular fiction.

I'm not a big fan of murder mysteries, but I happened to
read this book because the author was a good friend of mine
twenty-odd years ago.  Her books are very popular because of 
her wit and breezy style.  Here she departs from both to
preach instead.

The material is copyrighted, but license is granted to reproduce
"brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews".  I 
suppose this falls under the former, although my only words
of criticism are:  " 'nuff said."

I know you'll all wonder as I do, "WHICH Institute was that?"

Quoted from: 

Hess, Joan.  Roll Over and Play Dead.  
St. Martin's Press, N.Y., 1991.  

p. 34ff: 

[The heroine is at an animal shelter looking for lost dogs.
The speaker is the director of the shelter.  ]

   "... He's a class B dealer and has a place out east of town.
He's licensed to sell random source animals to laboratories and
medical schools for research -- and we're not talking which dog
food tastes better.  The National Institutes of Health gives away
over three and a half billion dollars of your tax dollars so 
researchers can cut animals up, cripple them, blind them, burn them,
infect them with diseases, and in general torture them.  Over 
seventy million animals die this way every year so that someone 
can determine that you really shouldn't drink paint solvent or put 
it in your eyes."
   "Is this legal? ... Can they do this to people's pets?"
   "Yes, indeed.  The dealers are licensed by the USDA, but rarely
inspected.  They're not allowed to knowingly buy and later sell 
stolen pets [i.e., the plot of the story].  Every now and then one 
is reprimanded for filthy conditions and inhumane treatment.  Churls
do doubt has a wonderfully repentant expression when he's promising
to do better.  It doesn't stop him from selling someone's beloved pet 
to a med school so they can see how long the dog can live with nails
in his skull."
   "But medical research is necessary isn't it?  That's how we 
develop and test new drugs that will save people's lives.  A child
with leukemia deserves all the help he can get."
   "Some of it may be necessary," Jan said.  "However, the NIH is 
eager to give away money and not at all eager to ascertain if the 
proposed research is duplicative, inapplicable, irrelevant to humans
-- or if it's conducted in a humane fashion."


Doug Fitts
University of Washington

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