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Decades of failure and horror exposed in Wayne State dog heart experiments

By court order, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) obtained extensive information and canine health records from Wayne State University through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.
By court order, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) obtained extensive information and canine health records from Wayne State University through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.
Photos courtesy of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, used with permission.

Without a medical background, some of the hand written jargon scribbled on the “Daily Progress Report” of dogs undergoing heart experimentation in the government funded research laboratories at Wayne State University reads like chicken scratch. In between the medical lingo, the medical records read, without sentiment, like something written by Joseph Mengele.

Dogs like Rogue, Wilma, Hazel, and Freddie begin life with no name, only an identification code, CCDMAL, tattooed inside the ear. Transported from Covance (the world’s largest drug development service company headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey) facilities to Wayne State University in Detroit, dogs undergo a series of horribly invasive surgeries.

During multiple and sequential surgeries, implanted devices are tunneled out through the skin. During the treadmill experiments, these devices, as few as two and up to twelve, are attached to equipment that measure various attributes of cardiovascular function.

The burden of device implants and surgery, recovery from surgery, serious and even lethal complications during surgery, continuation of treadmill experimentation while suffering from severely infected surgical wounds, performing more surgery on dogs who begin to refuse to walk on the treadmill, and the malfunction of medical equipment all contribute to dog deaths prior to completion of the testing protocol. Many of the last entries by Wayne State University researchers simply state: Dog Euthanized.

Since 2000, Donal O’Leary, Ph.D., Wayne State University Professor and Director of Cardiovascular Research, has received more than $8 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and more than $5 million for one completed and one ongoing grant (project # HL055473) for his canine heart failure research.

By court order, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) obtained extensive information and canine health records from Wayne State University through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. Spearheaded by John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Director of Academic Affairs, petitions from 51,250 people and a recently completed scientific white paper from the PCRM staff that details the scientific failings of Dr. O’Leary’s work were sent to National Institutes of Health Director, Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D asking National Institutes of Health to defund the dog heart experiments.

“The experiments are wrong ethically, scientifically, and economically. Dogs are just a piece of equipment to them,” says Dr. Pippin who describes vivisectors as “very impatient to get treadmill tests underway before the dogs die.”

“The mortality rate of research dogs is high. Twenty-five percent or more of these dogs die before completing the testing protocol,” Dr. Pippin reveals. “The data researchers obtain is incomplete and disagrees with what we know about heart disease. There is nothing to show for their research except a pile of dead dogs.”

“We’ve lost valuable research time, money, and lives,” Dr. Pippin emphasizes. Even if animal experimentation were conducted in the most humane way possible, the results would still be utterly useless for human application.

Researchers like Dr. O’Leary and the universities that support them dismiss the special nature of animals and the value of life. Both have a vested interest in dead-end animal experimentation to continue receiving federal funding.

“Petitions accompanied by scientific documentation have been very successful.” Dr. Pippin is hopeful that National Institutes of Health Director, Dr. Collins, will take a personal interest or designate someone to lead a scientific critique of Dr. O’Leary’s dog heart experiment research and terminate his unproductive research.

As more medical researchers logically conclude that if our closest genetic relative, the chimpanzee, cannot accurately predict human outcomes, then animals less like us certainly cannot predict human outcomes. Dr. Pippin believes, “This is will be another positive step toward more practical and more applicable human-based research.”

“Dr. O’Leary does not care about advancing medicine and has contributed nothing to human medicine,” Dr. Pippin asserts. “Unravelling the testing protocols that needlessly kill animals will stop federal funding of research that fails to advance human medicine.”