Monday, April 16, 2018

UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine

The old bait-and-switcheroo.

UW's School of Veterinary Medicine campaigns for multi-million dollar expansion

By Kalie Greenberg | Posted: Fri 8:49 AM, Apr 13, 2018 | Updated: Fri 12:00 PM, Apr 13, 2018

MADISON, Wis.(WMTV)-- The School of Veterinary Medicine said it is still working to fundraise and spread awareness about its Animals Need Heroes Too campaign. Friday's canceled University of Wisconsin-Madison's Spring Football game was a fundraiser for the project.

"In the end, it's about doing things to get our story out and I think that's still happening," said Mark Markel, Dean for the School of Veterinary Medicine. [more...]
Yes, animals need heroes, but the vet school raising money for more lab space is like Joseph Mengele using the slogan "Children Need Heroes Too."

Lest you think I'm being too hyperbolic or just unfair, consider these simple facts:

The vet school says:
Our Team "The compassion and excellence you’ll find at UW Veterinary Care is fueled by our world-class team of veterinarians, technicians, pharmacists, and staff, working together to deliver the best possible care for all animals."
Visitors to that page are invited to get to know the veterinarians. The vet school dean is Mark D. Markel. It seems reasonable to assume that his feelings about and attitude toward animals sets the tone and influences the attitudes and opinions of others at the vet school.

On his vet school webpage, he lists some of his recent scientific papers. The first one on his list [right now that is, the university commonly deletes things when a critic points to them] is Bleedorn JA, Sullivan R, Lu Y, Kalscheur V, Markel MD: Percutaneous lovastatin accelerates bone healing but is associated with periosseous soft tissue inflammation in a canine tibial osteotomy model. J Orthop Res 2014 Feb;32(2):210-6. doi: 10.1002/jor.22502. Epub 2013 Oct 25. This is a passage from the paper:

Eighteen spayed female adult purpose‐bred hound dogs were used in a block randomized, parallel group study design (treatment n = 12, control n = 6). Briefly, a 1 mm mid‐diaphyseal osteotomy was performed on the right tibia, and the bone was stabilized with an external fixator. Dogs received a percutaneous injection at the osteotomy site with lovastatin in vehicle (treatment), or vehicle (control) 4 days after surgery. Results were evaluated with serial radiography until bone union. Histologic evaluation of fracture healing and soft tissue inflammation surrounding the osteotomy was performed after sacrifice at 10 weeks postoperatively, except in two control dogs at 11 weeks at time of radiographic bone union. All data were collected and analyzed by personnel who were unaware of treatments. The university animal care and use committee approved all procedures.
Here's a picture from the paper showing the dogs' cut leg bones:

It is true that the the vet school has helped and probably saved the lives of many animals over the years. But it isn't at all clear to me that good works erase monstrous acts. When Mengele gave candy to some of the children he was using, did it erase or even slightly mitigate his crimes?

I knew a dog named Cap who had been used at the vet school for years as a tool for teaching students how to examine a dog. He was a basket of nerves; he was clearly suffering from intense post traumatic stress. Though he recovered somewhat, he was never a normal or happy dog.

I doubt that the terrible things being done to animals at the vet school are altogether the result of having a leader who experiments on dogs and kills them. The view that it is just and right to view animals as disposable tools permeates the institution. I mentioned above that the vet school website invites visitors to meet the vets. Let's start our tour here.

The page explains that there are four academic departments: Comparative Biosciences, Pathobiological Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Surgical Sciences. The chair of the department of Comparative Biosciences is Ted (Thaddeus) Golos. Here's data from the NIH that gives some idea of what he does all day when he isn't doing paper work:
5 R01 AI107157 04

1 R21 AI129308 01

1 R21 AI136014 01

5 R21 HD091163 02

5 R24 OD021322 03
Other than the Lecturers/Instructors, the other 30-ish people, from their publication lists, are all vivisectors, which makes sense since "comparative medicine" is the term of art for vivisection. One of them, James Tracy, was a supporter of hosting the Department of Homeland Security's proposed giant infectious animal disease research facility in the nearby Town of Dunn.

Moving along to Medical Sciences. The majority of the staff listed on this page seem to be genuine clinicians dealing with naturally occurring problems in animals, but not all. Nigel Cook and Dorte Dopfer's primary focus is keeping animals healthy before the are slaughtered, they co-authored a paper explaining an experiment they conducted using young cows:
Bovine digital dermatitis (DD), also known as papillomatous digital dermatitis (foot warts), has been recognized as a major cause of lameness in cattle, with important economic and welfare consequences.... A group of 4 yearling Holstein heifers free of any clinical evidence of hoof disease was recruited from a commercial dairy farm and housed in an experimental facility in 1 pen with slatted flooring. The hind feet were wrapped to mimic conditions of prolonged moisture (maceration) and reduced access to air (closure) and inoculated at the heel and dewclaw areas with a homogenate of a naturally occurring DD lesion skin biopsy or a culture broth of Treponema spp. After a period of 12 to 25 d, 4 of 6 and 1 of 4 dewclaw areas inoculated with biopsied DD lesion or a Treponema spp. culture, respectively, had gross lesions compatible with DD. [Gomez, A., Cook, N. B., Bernardoni, N. D., Rieman, J., Dusick, A. F., Hartshorn, R., ... & Döpfer, D. (2012). An experimental infection model to induce digital dermatitis infection in cattle. Journal of dairy science, 95(4), 1821-1830.]
And then, there's Ian Duncan. Thirty-five or so years ago, he identified a gene mutation in Welsh springer spaniels. The mutation goes by the moniker sps, which stands for shaking puppy syndrome. Since then, apparently, he has maintained a colony of these dogs at the university for use in his experiments. I wonder how many people taking their dogs to the vet school know that one of the vets there is breeding dogs with a debilitating brain illness? Here's a photo from one of his papers pointing out the differences between the brains of healthy dogs and his dogs. [In: Mayer, J. A., Griffiths, I. R., Goldman, J. E., Smith, C. M., Cooksey, E., Radcliff, A. B., & Duncan, I. D. (2015). Modeling the natural history of Pelizaeus–Merzbacher disease. Neurobiology of disease, 75, 115-130.]

He also uses mice and rats with mutations that cause severe disease.

Veterinarian Fernando Marqués, reported in 2017, that meloxicam , a drug used to treat tenderness, swelling, and pain, reduced stress in bull calves after castration compared to those who received no pain medication. Who would have imagined that! [Creutzinger K.C., Stookey J.M., Marfleet T.W., Campbell J.R., Janz D.M., Marqués F.J., Seddon Y.M. An investigation of hair cortisol as a measure of long-term stress in beef cattle: results from a castration study. Can. J. Anim. Sci 97:499-509 (2017).]

According to the vet school, veterinarian Harry Momont " currently investigating the use of diagnostic ultrasonography of the male genital tract as a breeding management tool."

Veterinarian Garrett Oetzel is an Associate Professor in the Food Animal Production Medicine Section. I'm sure he's filled with compassion.

Veterinarian Lennart Backstrom, Professor Emeritus of Large Animal Medicine/Swine, isn't likely to be of much help to the people being targeted in the vet school's Animals Need Heroes Too campaign. Nor is veterinarian William Bosu, a professor whose interest lies in the theriogenology of cows and horses. (Theriogenology is the branch of veterinary medicine concerned with reproduction, including the physiology and pathology of male and female reproductive systems of animals -- WP.) Nor is veterinarian Sheila McGuirk, Professor of Large Animal Internal Medicine and Food Animal Production Medicine. Nor is Kenneth Nordlund or Susan Semrad, both vets working to keep cows healthy enough to be eaten or milked for a few years.

I looked at all the details given for all the listed staff of the Medical Sciences division because it seemed the most hopeful one for finding people with a genuine concern for animals, for finding vets who see themselves as animal doctors, whose responsibility is to their patient. Those not named here, seem to be close to that ideal. They publish papers recounting clinical cases and seem uninvolved in the dark side of the vet school's activities. But those people seem to be in the small minority.

Moving on to the Department of Pathobiological Sciences, I see names of people I have mentioned in previous posts. I'll just list them here so that those with an interest can search for them in other posts. Thomas Friedrich, Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Eric Sandgren, Timothy Yoshino, Gary Splitter, and Susan West. A fine and representative bunch. None of the others appear to have anything to do with the medical care of companion animals.

The Surgical Sciences Department is also filled with people who hurt and kill animals. For instance, veterinarian Dale Bjorling's work is centered around the use of mice and occasionally rats. He was also a university spokesperson when the Alliance for Animals exposed their illegal killing of sheep in decompression experiments. Bjorling was either grossly uniformed or lied when he defended the university's illegal activity.

Veterinarian Jason Bleedorn was a coauthor with vet school dean Mark D. Markelon on the paper I mentioned above in which the dogs' leg bones were sawed through and then later killed.

Veterinarian Sabrina Brounts points to one of her recent publications: Chamberlain CS, Duenwald-Kuehl SE, Okotie G, Brounts SH, Baer GS, Vanderby R. Temporal healing in rat Achilles tendon: ultrasound correlations Ann Biomed Eng 2012.

Veterinarian Rebecca Johnson points to one of her recent publications: Nichols NL, Duncan ID, Punzo AM, Mitchell GS, Johnson RA (2012). Cervical spinal demyelination with ethidium bromide transiently impairs respiratory (phrenic) and forelimb motor behavior in rats. Neuroscience Jan 15; 229: 77-87.

Veterinarian Jonathan McAnulty is listed as the current Chair of the Department of Surgical Sciences. In a current paper [Csomos, R. A., Hardie, R. J., Schmiedt, C. W., Delaney, F. A., & McAnulty, J. F. (2017). Effect of cold storage on immediate graft function in an experimental model of renal transplantation in cats. American journal of veterinary research, 78(3), 330-339.] he reports:
To assess the effect of cold storage (CS) on immediate posttransplantation function of renal autografts in cats. ANIMALS 15 healthy 1-year-old cats. PROCEDURES Cats were assigned to 2 groups and underwent autotransplantation of the left kidney followed by nephrectomy of the right kidney.... renal transplantation in cats may serve as a desirable model for investigating the effects of renal transplantation in human patients.
From his publications, McAnulty's main work appears to be the study of wound healing. Here's a representative passage:
Design of wound model

As a wound host, we chose male mice that are homozygous for Leprdb. Such db/db mice exhibit an impaired wound-healing response , which increasing the sensitivity of wound-healing assays as well as clinical relevancy. The course of wound healing in these mice mimics that in humans with adult-onset type II diabetes mellitus.

As a wound type, we chose excisional wounds. These wounds heal from the margins, enabling the broadest assessment of the various parameters for wound healing, including re-epithelialization. We were aware, however, that the healing of mouse wounds is distinctly different from that of human wounds. In mice, contraction is the major mechanism of wound closure. In humans, re-epithelialization and granulation tissue-formation dominate. We devised a means to overcome this dichotomy. The use of splints around excisional wounds in db/db mice had been shown to allow healing by fibrovascular tissue formation and re-epithilialization, while minimizing the effects of contraction. In addition, a splinted wound model can provide two side-by-side wounds on the same mouse and facilitates the application of topical agents directly onto a wound bed. Accordingly, we used splinted wounds in db/db mice for our analyses. [Chattopadhyay, S., Guthrie, K. M., Teixeira, L., Murphy, C. J., Dubielzig, R. R., McAnulty, J. F., & Raines, R. T. (2016). Anchoring a cytoactive factor in a wound bed promotes healing. Journal of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, 10(12), 1012-1020.]
Coauthors of the paper, Kathleen M. Guthrie, Leandro Teixeira, Richard R. Dubielzig, and Richard R. Dubielzig are also veterinarians at the vet school.

Veterinarian Gillian McLellan kills cats. In a recent publication coauthored with other UW-Madison veterinarians [Teixeira, L. B., Buhr, K. A., Bowie, O., Duke, F. D., Nork, T. M., Dubielzig, R. R., & McLellan, G. J. (2014). Quantifying optic nerve axons in a cat glaucoma model by a semi-automated targeted counting method. Molecular vision, 20, 376.] The authors explain:

We used fixed optic nerve tissues collected postmortem from cats in a research colony that had been established from a pedigree of cats with spontaneously occurring recessively inherited PCG. Samples were selected from animals ranging in age from 6 months to 6 years and representing a range of different stages in the progression of disease. Weekly intraocular pressure (IOP) data, as measured by rebound tonometry, were available for all cats in the study. All glaucomatous animals had persistently elevated IOP,... The cup-to-disc ratio cannot be reliably assessed on ophthalmoscopy in cats, but all cats in the former group exhibited abnormalities consistent with glaucoma ... Single optic nerves were selected from normal cats (n = 6) and from cats that demonstrated mild to severe PCG due to a consistent mutation in LTBP2 (n = 9). All procedures were conducted with the approval of the University of Wisconsin-Madison institutional animal care and use committee.
Veterinarian Samantha Morello's page says that she has "personal background in the show horse and race horse industry." Those are two industries which generally seem to treat animals very poorly.

Veterinarian Peter Muir is the Melita Grunow Family Professor of Companion Animal Health. But don't be fooled, Muir and vet school dean Markel are co-directors of the vet school's Comparative Orthopaedic Research Laboratory. It isn't a good place for animals. They say:

"We have vast experimental and clinical experience in an array of animal models including mice, rabbits, dogs, sheep, pigs and horses in which have evaluated cartilage, bone, ligament and tendon repair and healing."

"Chronic and acute osteoarthritis in dog models and acute osteoarthritis in sheep and pony models have been successfully created."

"Sheep stifle external immobilization has been successfully established and developed for studies of cartilage implantation," and provide a photo to suggest what this means for the animals they use:

"Osteochondral grafts and implantation have been proficiently performed in both sheep stifles and pig mandibular bone," and provide another photo:

"Achilles, patellar tendon, and shoulder rotator cuff repairs have been evaluated in both rabbit and sheep models. Fracture healing has been also determined in horse models."

The lab seems to be doing pretty well financially.

Veterinarian Lesley Smith's page says that she is a mover and a shaker. Unfortunately, she seems to be lacking in ... hum, intuition? She says on her page that she has: "Over 35 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters published. See pubmed for list." Doing so is predictably unhelpful. Maybe the page is missing a hyperlink. She has to have known that she is not the only L. Smith whose papers are indexed on PubMed. In fact, there are 9,188 papers authors by L. Smiths. There are 139 papers authored by Lesley Smiths. It turns out that she sometime publishes as L.J. Smith, but there are 602 papers authored by L. J. Smiths. But I did locate a few of her papers.

One of those is a yet to be cited report titled, Comparison of the effects of alfaxalone and propofol with acepromazine, butorphanol and/or doxapram on laryngeal motion and quality of examination in dogs. [Radkey, D. I., Hardie, R. J., & Smith, L. J. (2018). Comparison of the effects of alfaxalone and propofol with acepromazine, butorphanol and/or doxapram on laryngeal motion and quality of examination in dogs. Veterinary anaesthesia and analgesia.] The abstract notes that they used "Ten female Beagle dogs, aged 11-13 months." Given that beagles are by far the most commonly used dogs in the labs, I suspect that these were not pets.

And I found this paper: Epidural Administration of Liposome-Encapsulated Hydromorphone Provides Extended Analgesia in a Rodent Model of Stifle Arthritis.

There is, to me, something particularly stomach-tightening about intentionally hurting animals, inducing chronic pain, in order to study pain and analgesia. It seems to me that in most cases some things can be studied ethically only in the course of an effort to help someone. The one exception to this moral baseline is the use of volunteers who have the opportunity to opt out any time they choose.

Veterinarian Sara Colopy experiments on mice. Veterinarian Susannah Sample does as well. One of the papers she co-authored with others from the vet school [Sample, Susannah J., Ryan J. Collins, Aliya P. Wilson, Molly A. Racette, Mary Behan, Mark D. Markel, Vicki L. Kalscheur, Zhengling Hao, and Peter Muir. "Systemic effects of ulna loading in male rats during functional adaptation." Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 25, no. 9 (2010): 2016-2028] provides a sketch of what they did to the mice they used:

Not all of the vets listed on the department's page provide a sample of their published papers. I did not look for publications from those who didn't, so I don't know what their attitude toward animals might be. It is clear though from my brief review of the veterinarians in the four departments that comprise the School of Veterinary Medicine that the general attitude is that animals are disposable tools whose experiences, whose lives, are of little consequence or concern.

The seemingly large majority of the veterinarians associated with the vet school care about animals the way a mechanic might care about your car. They see animals as a means to an ends, or as the property of their actual client, the human who owns them.

This attitude makes a mockery, a sick joke, of the school's new fund-raising drive under the banner of Animals Need Heroes Too.

I don't think it likely that someone would take their child to a clinic if they knew that the clinic was breeding children with genetic defects for use in terminal sometimes painful experiments. Nor would they take their child to a clinic if they knew that the clinic was buying children to experiment on.

It's true that not all the vets at the vet school do these things, but it seems that most do, and those that don't remain quiet about the animals being hurt and killed in their colleagues' labs.

I suspect that were the school to get rid of all the vivisectors and hire a few more vets who really do care about animals, that there would be more than adequate space for a public clinic; and if they then ran out of room, I'd be writing here asking people to make a contribution.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Behind the headlines... suffering and spin.

Cue the public relations gibberish. The public isn't well-served by science writers who seek out and then swallow whole the nonsense foisted off by those with vested interests in the public's opinion and perception of their work. In this article from Nature, I couldn't help noticing the uncritical repetition of simple nonsense. [NEWS 22 March 2018. Alison Abbott: Reduced-calorie diet shows signs of slowing ageing in people. Most comprehensive study yet demonstrates that cutting people’s energy intake dials down their metabolism.]

The history alluded to in the article regarding the effects of caloric restriction in animals is cherry-picked, to say the least.

Not mentioned at all of course is the harsh reality behind the allusion.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Crating Dogs

A little off topic.

Micky and me. I'm the one in the hat.

A few years ago, we learned that a neighbor was locking their dog in a crate whenever they left. We told them that they could drop her off at our house instead; we gave them a key for times when we were gone. For some reason, they didn't care whether we were home or not; they were happy to just drop her off. Now, they never lock her in a crate. I suspect that she is happier looking out the window than being locked in a cage.

I've not been able to pinpoint the rise in popularity in cages for dogs, but from what I have been able to glean it might coincide with the dramatic change in the number of women in the workforce. Puppies could be house trained fairly easily if there was always someone who could catch them in the act and take them outside.

Like so many things that are sometimes thought of as signs of progress, the move from housewife to wage-earner had some negative consequences, and in this case, it may be that one of them was a massive increase in the number of dogs spending most of their waking hours locked in a cage.

A somewhat common claim on the internet is that there is nothing wrong with locking a dog up for hours on end everyday. Like this one: "It is not unreasonable to leave your dog in a crate for 9 to 10 hours at a time, which is a traditional workday."

In the myriad advertisements and images of dog crates one can see on line, it is seemingly the norm to leave them on the floor. When we are away for the day, our boy Micky is always parked on the back of a couch looking out a window. From there he can keep watch and bark at anyone walking by, at the mail carrier, and any truck that happens to stop, or heaven forbid, has letters pained on the side, and of course, he can keep a sharp eye out (when not asleep) for our car pulling into the driveway.

If he were left locked in a cage on the floor all day, I suspect he would perceive it to be a torturous experience. Over the weeks, months, and years of being caged, he might get used to it, but the idea that he would like it seems absurd and ethically blind to me.

In my reading about this phenomena, I happened upon a much more reasonable and humane option for people who for whatever reason, think their dog should not have the run of the house when they are gone. Turn a room into dog-safe space and put a gate in the doorway. Even this, if a chronic practice, seems wrong-headed to me, but it isn't as bad as putting a dog in a cage for long periods. The room would be best with a window and a place to lie down and be able to see out.

Mainly, I think that people who can't have a dog without keeping them in a crate should not be allowed to have a dog.

One final note note for the many people who think exceptions justify the general case. In rare cases, a dog recovering from surgery might be best served by being kept in a small space when no one can be with them. There might be other rare cases, maybe when in a car, that a reasonable argument could be made to justify caging a dog, but those cases are rare exceptions and have no bearing on the routine and cruel practice of daily crating that has gained in popularity over the years.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

They were only Jews.

What did you do during the animal holocaust? Did you stay quiet like most Germans did?

They were only Jews. They are only monkeys.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Cultured Meat Misses the Mark

The idea of growing meat in a vat instead of on an animal is gaining traction, and a handful of new companies have been formed to pursue the dream of animal-free meat. It appears that there is almost all upside to the notion. Were everyone in the world who currently eats animals to make the switch, the benefits to the planet’s health would be immense.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about cultured meat which almost resulted in a $100 wager. He thought that cultured meat would have a huge effect across the board: ethically, environmentally, and economically. And, if a large part of the population embraces the product, it could.

But the more we talked, him the optimist, me the pessimist, the less sure he became. He said that he thought cultured meats would follow a market penetration path somewhat similar to the plant-based milks, which he thought was about 10%. He decided that with luck, we might see a 5% market penetration of cultured meat within 20 years. I suggested that if many of those buying the plant milks would be those also buying the cultured meat, then maybe the meats would not result in a significant change.

Further consideration led him to abandon the bet. I gloated to myself a bit, but further study of the issue has nudged me toward his side of the argument.

The plant-based milks seem to have been more successful than we assumed. Here are numerous bits of data and projections that make it look like the plant-based milks are kicking-ass, market-wise. Plant-based milks have enjoyed a 33% market penetration, and the projections are that this number is increasing.

But, as happy as that statistic made me, the success of the plant milks do not seem to have had a noticeable impact on the U.S. dairy industry so far:

Thinking of other animal product replacements that have come along, I am hard-pressed to point to many that have resulted in a reduction in animal use. Faux fur doesn't seem to have had much if any impact on the fur industry, and since leather is a byproduct of beef production, plastic shoes, even if everyone was wearing them, probably wouldn't have any effect on the number of animals slaughtered.

Someone else suggested that plastic had replaced the use bone for knitting needles and vegetable oil has replaced lard, but in spite of those replacements,
American consumption of red meat and poultry per capita is forecast to hit 222.2 pounds per person in 2018, up from 216.9 pounds in 2017 and 210.2 pounds in 1998, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s the highest amount of meat consumption within the last 50 years. Production of both red meat and poultry will increase in 2018, at the same time the U.S. economy is growing and Americans have more money to spend on food, it found. []
The one case I thought of as being an example of a widely used animal product being forced out of the market by consumer preferences was whale oil. Apparently though, that wasn't the case either.

The internal combustion engine must have resulted in a drastic reduction in the horse population, so it isn't impossible for technological advances to lead to less animal use, but then, the opposite is possible as in the case of the cotton gin leading to a dramatic increase in the number of slaves in the antebellum south.

All of this brings me to the point of this essay: namely, that new product introductions will not lead to advances in ethics and moral behavior. In order to see real improvement in how we treat the planet, in how we treat its other residents, we have to change people's minds, we have to instill a concern for others, we have to sell them on the universality of the Golden Rule.

Without a change of heart, no technological advance is likely to mean very much in a statistical sense when if comes to the animals we harm and kill, the animals whose homes we destroy, whose lives remain unnoticed and unimportant to us. But a change in popular belief would have an immediate and sweeping impact because behavior would be instantly altered.

To the degree that the animal rights movement has had an effect, that veganism has become more commonly mentioned, this has been caused by words rather than new products. Likewise for every social gain we have made. Words motivate action. Words lead to changes in the law. Words change people's beliefs. Words have always been the catalyst for social progress. We need more and better words. Louder words, and of course, lots of pictures.

[For those with an interest in the science behind the lab-grown meats, I found this article to be helpful.]