Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dogs and Two-Year-Olds

Dogs and 2-Year-Olds

on Same Mental Plane

MONDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- According to accumulating research, the beloved family dog is really a toddler with a snout and tail.

"Dogs basically have the developmental abilities equivalent to a human 2-year-old," said dog expert Stanley Coren, who was scheduled to present recent canine research developments at the American Psychological Association annual meeting this week in Toronto.

The average dog can learn 165 words, although "super dog" Rico, a border collie, could understand 200 spoken words. Experts think some dogs can learn up to 250 words.


Marshall Farms, like Ridglan Farms, part of HARLAN SPRAGUE DAWLEY breeds dogs for vivisectors. In Madison, the largest consumer of dogs is Covance, which reported using 5,134 dogs in 2007. The University of Wisconsin - Madison reported using 421 dogs in 2004. I don't know how many they are using today.

If dogs were toasters, or even carrots, the things being done to them in these labs would have no ethical or moral implications, but, as Stanley Coren points out, they're not.

Here's a bad taste of the sort of things being done to them at UW-Madison:
Dogs were trained to stand quietly and/or run vigorously on a motorized treadmill, and after training, most dogs were instrumented through two surgical procedures. Similar to previous studies from our laboratory, dogs were instrumented with an ascending aortic (Transonic Systems, Inc., Ithaca, NY) and renal artery flow probe (Transonic Systems, Inc.) for beat-by-beat measurement of blood flow, and an abdominal aortic catheter for arterial blood sampling. Two of the dogs studied at rest and four dogs studied during exercise were instrumented with flow probes, whereas four of the dogs studied at rest and six of the dogs studied during exercise were instrumented with an abdominal aortic catheter... Animals were allowed to recover for at least 2 weeks before data collection.


Exercising dogs. As with the resting dogs, each animal was guided onto the treadmill and stood quietly while instrumentation was connected. After 5 minutes of quiet standing, resting data were acquired. The treadmill was then started, and the speed was increased to the highest speed that the dog could maintain with positive reinforcement (5–8 mph, 10–15% grade). After 2–3 minutes of steady state exercise, exercise data were obtained, and microspheres were then injected. Once arterial sampling was complete, the treadmill speed was lowered to 4 mph, promptly stopped, and the dog remained standing on the treadmill. Fifteen minutes after microsphere injection, additional data were acquired. As in the resting studies, dogs were promptly killed, tissue samples were taken, and careful post mortem examination
of the heart revealed no cardiac defects.

Exercise-induced arteriovenous intrapulmonary shunting in dogs. Stickland MK, Lovering AT, Eldridge MW. John Rankin Laboratory of Pulmonary Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007.
Experimenting on dogs is like experimenting on young children; not infants who might not be able to grasp that someone means them harm, but two-and-a-half-year-old toddlers, who are able to add one and one and come to the conclusion that monsters are hurting them, even if they can't imagine why. And what else could people who would hurt dogs or young children be called but monsters?

Maybe they could feign ignorance: "I just didn't know that dogs have minds, think about things, and have feelings!" But once they learn that they do, and then continue to hurt and kill them, to breed them to be hurt and killed, what other word comes even close to describing them?


Anonymous said...

Position easily refuted:

You enter a house on fire to find a dog (which knows 50 words) and a one week old baby (which knows no words at all). You can save only one of them. Your argument would suggest that the right thing to do is to save the dog.

Rick said...

I can't imagine such a scenario. I'd try to save both if I happened upon them at the same time; otherwise, I'd carry out the one I found first. Your solution to the hypothetical problem is simply bigotry dressed up as morality. In your scenario, if it were two children rather than a dog and a child, and one was a retarded black child and the other a vivacious white child, which one would you save?

Anonymous said...

I think the vast majority of people would disagree with your view that you should carry the dog out if you were to find it first.

In case of children, I would carry whoever I found first.

Rick said...

So, Anon, are you claiming that 'majority' and 'moral' are synonyms? If the majority -- a vast majority -- holds a particular view, is it then, by definition, the highest moral position as well?

Jeremy Beckham said...

Another problem Anon is you're trying to use so-called "Lifeboat Ethics" for non-Lifeboat situations. Your moral scenario only matters in a burning house or some other clear and immediate zero-sum situation. That isn't the case with our society's variety of animal exploitation industries that specifically breed animals, with a great deal of deliberateness and foresight, to profit or otherwise benefit off their misery and death.

An example to illustrate my point: If there were two people in a burning house and one was someone on their deathbed with only moments to live anyway and the other was a young child with their life ahead of them, it doesn't seem inconceivable that one could put forth a reasonable moral argument in that case that it is justified to save the person with a their whole life in front of them.

Does that therefore mean we vivisect terminally ill people? Harvest them for their flesh?


PS. Since the suffering of animals is inflicted with a great deal of intentionality on the part of vivisectors, perhaps your scenario would be more accurately conceived of if you said "You are strolling down the street and see a vivisector setting a house on fire and you notice that there is a baby and a dog inside..." In that case, first and foremost, we should stop the vivisector from setting any more houses on fire. It would be better for everyone to never need lifeboats or lifeboat ethics in the first place.

Anonymous said...

To the contrary, it is not a merely academic discussion, as the current debate on health care illustrates.

As you know, Peter Singer is advocating "rationing" that confront us with a similar situation to the one Jeremy is describing. There are very real life situations where you have to make such a call.

One of the basic requirements for any theory of morality is that it should be self consistent. In the argument that Rick was advocating, it means saving the dog and not the infant.

If you don't agree with such an outcome, then you should go back and rethink your position.

Rick said...

Just to be clear: I'm not advocating saving a dog over a child, or a child over a dog. I'm advocating equality. In the burning building scenario, I'd say do your best to get the dog and the child out.

The case of vivisection (or eating animals, etc.) isn't a burning building.

Anonymous said...

Biomedical research is such scenario: if you do not do research today, you won't find the cures for tomorrow.

By stopping research you may be saving a rat, but killing people (and animals) that might have been saved through research.

Rick said...

Hurting or killing you because it might be beneficial to someone else at some later date is immoral. It is immoral for the very same reasons to use a dog or a rat. But rather than struggle with the dog/rat question, you might try to explain first why killing you to help someone else would be immoral. Until you can do that, you won't have any luck understanding the animal issue.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you just write a novel about how killing scientists to save animal lives is morally justifiable?

Aren't you admitting that killing humans is morally justified... at least when it serves your goals?

Rick said...

Yes. The murderer in the novel believes it is moral, even morally imperative, to use the means necessary to stop immediate harm, and that the means should be balanced by the harm. The novel argues that in cases where someone is willfully torturing and or killing others, killing them can be moral.

Considered more narrowly, and looking only at humans, many people, most perhaps, agree. Intervening, even with deadly force is at times the moral imperative.

But vivisectors aren't trying to stop someone from doing immediate harm to another. They argue that the data generated by their research might some day help someone in some way; this is the nature of basic research -- the eventual benefits or lack thereof simply don't matter very much, are speculative, and are often secondary to the financial rewards.

Anonymous said...

"But vivisectors aren't trying to stop someone from doing immediate harm to another."

Of course they are! Many diseases cause immediate harm (death) to thousands of patients every day.

Following your logic, scientists find it morally imperative to find cures for such diseases which, they honestly believe, can be developed.

According to your own logic, scientists are behaving morally.

Rick said...

You are living in a fantasy world. But for the sake of argument, let's say you are partially right and that there are some vivisectors who genuinely believe that they are on the verge of finding a cure for some scourge.

Fine. Now, how about Sackett's recent paper describing a new way to raise a baby monkey without sight of her hands? What immediate problem is he fixing?

Or what about Weindruch's caloric restriction project keeping monkeys hungry for their entire lives -- a diet he says he wouldn't be able to stomach -- and comparing their health with the health of obese monkeys? Where's the immediacy?

Or Schneider's endless papers on the effects of alcohol exposure in-utero?

Or maybe you could explain how David Jentsch's paper in Neuropsychopharmacology (2008),
Clozapine Normalizes Prefrontal Cortex Dopamine Transmission in
Monkeys Subchronically Exposed to Phencyclidine fits in with your notion that vivisectors are trying to stop some immediate harm.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for granting the point that those that believe they are working for a cure are acting in a moral way.

Sackett et al show that there might be a critical period for the normal development of visuo-motor coordination.

This information is necessary to establish a surgical window of opportunity to treat children with vision loss or limb abnormalities.

The take home message is that if you wait too long you for surgical intervention then the brain might not be plastic enough to allow for the normal development after limb motion or vision are restored.

By the way, they also acknowledge the work of Held and Bauer you refer to, and explain how the two differ.

The results are critical for the understanding of development of visuo-motor behavior in human children.

You are not doing your homework Rick. But you are probably more interested in brainwashing your readers that understanding the research.

Rick said...

"This information is necessary to establish a surgical window of opportunity to treat children with vision loss or limb abnormalities.

The take home message is that if you wait too long you for surgical intervention then the brain might not be plastic enough to allow for the normal development after limb motion or vision are restored."

No amount of homework, it seems, would be sufficient to overcome such deep illusions. Nowhere in the paper is mention made of anything approximating "the take home message" invented by the writer above.

It seems clear that they either did not read the paper or else didn't understand it.

Sackett et al started out with 34 newly-born pigtailed macaques and divided them into three groups.

The control group (12 monkeys), the tactile-visual separation group (13 monkeys), and the special-rearing control group (10 monkeys).

No group was subjected to vision occlusions (as are commonly used in human infant opthamology.) The monkeys in the tactile-visual separation group were raised for 2 months in complete darkness -- to keep them from being able to see their hands and the objects in their cages intended by the vivisectors to be manipulated. Monkeys in this group had a portal in the side of their cage that they stuck their head into in order to reach food. When their head was in the poral they could see what is described by the vivisectos as a "complex visual environment that incorporated a diverse range of visual experiences." With their heads in the portal, they couldn't see their hands.

This paper has absolutely nothing to do with treating children with vision loss or limb abnormalities and makes no claim that it does.

Sackett et al's mention of Held and Bauer failed to mention that study's similarity to their own. Instead, they lead off with the hyperbolic claim that their's is the first demonstration of its kind. Blather.

On another note:

Here's a footnote from the paper that gives an interesting window into the realities of the fucked-up world of primate vivisection:

"All animals initially assigned to the Laboratory Control group remained in the final sample. Of those initially assigned to the Tactual Visual Separation group, three were eliminated from the final sample: one (female) became ill and died at 11 days of age, and two (females) because they were found to be strabismic at the end of the controlled rearing period (In examining the background of the strabismic animals, it was determined that they were the offspring of monkeys from two lines of naturally occurring strabismic animals. Thus, it seemed likely that the strabismus was due to a genetic cause rather than to negative effects of their rearing environment.). Of those initially assigned to the Special-Rearing Control condition, four were eliminated from the final sample: two (one female, one male) became ill and died, one (female) turned out to have a visual disorder, and one (male) had his rearing environment compromised due to equipment malfunction. Because of fussiness and illness, data were not obtained on all animals for every test.

Anonymous said...

For anyone with decent knowledge of the development of the nervous system the significance of the research is obvious, as I tried to explain to you.

Your immediate reaction was to search the text if they had literally mentioned such applications, instead of thinking if the potential applications I explained made sense. They clearly do.