Amerijet Stands Firm, AR Activists Continue to Deceive

Speaking of Research is delighted to see the reasoned and strong stance taken by a target of an animal activist campaign in Florida.

Several months ago we wrote about an ongoing campaign against a Florida scientific supply company, Primate Products, Inc. Animal activists had used leaked photographs of injured monkeys to generate wild and poorly educated speculation about animal treatment. In news reports the company president explained that the monkeys had been socially-housed, had engaged in fighting with each other, and had been injured. The photographs show animals that are sedated in order to safely and humanely receive veterinary treatment for serious injuries that are in the process of healing.

As reported by us here and by Ed Silverman at Pharmalot, the federal agency charged with oversight, the United States Department of Agriculture, performed an investigation in response to the allegations made by PeTA and other animal activist groups. The USDA inspection report confirmed that no non-compliant items were identified during the inspection on September 20, 2010.

Regardless of the facts, the story was used to fuel a sustained campaign that has included hostile demonstrations at the private family homes of individuals who work for the company, as well as at the business itself. Now the campaign has extended to another company, an airline that—amongst its other business activities– transports research animals. Animal activist groups have pressured Amerijet to stop transport of animals to research facilities with protests at both the homes of Amerijet employees and at the business.

Despite the targeting of Amerijet’s employees, the company has not bowed under this pressure. Amerijet’s CEO, David G. Basset, responded to animal activists with a strong statement that can be read here in the Broward-Palm Beach New Times blog. In the letter, Basset discusses the reasons that his company will “stand by our decision to transport animals and will continue in the future to serve the needs of our customers for animal transport.”

Basset also speaks out against threatening actions and calls upon the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida to denounce these tactics:

 Unfortunately, we believe the tactics that have been engaged in or that are planned for the near future by some individuals or groups that have targeted Amerijet are the sort of animal rights extremist actions that federal laws, including the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, are intended to protect law-abiding citizens against – including our employees and customers. We have made the decision to continue to transport animals after careful consideration, and we will not be deterred by what we consider to be unlawful threats, harassment or intimidation of our employees or customers or acts of vandalism or property damage. Instead, we are prepared to defend our employees, our customers, and our business to the full extent of the law.

You have called upon us to consider our position regarding transporting animals, and we have done so thoughtfully and believe we have responded to you honestly and forthrightly despite our differences of opinion. We now ask you to consider the actions and anticipated actions of individuals and groups that ARFF appears to have aligned itself with against Amerijet. We call upon you to publicly denounce any tactic that may intimidate, harass, or cause fear among our employees or our customers simply because they do not agree with those who hold a contrary view.”

Speaking of Research applauds Amerijet and David Basset for standing by their principles and for providing a thoughtful response that shares the reasons for their decision.  We also hope that the local Florida media that have written about this story will seek out additional facts in order to provide accurate representation to the public. As it stands, for the Broward-Palm Beach New Times to continue to post the leaked monkey photographs without acknowledging either the explanations of their content, or subsequent USDA inspection reports which found no deficiencies at the company is both inaccurate and misleading.

Uncritical repetition of animal activists’ claims is hardly good journalism, a point made well by science blogger DrugMonkey in response to initial coverage of the leaked photos. And as science blogger Isis the Scientist wrote in a post titled “A Picture May Be Worth 1,000 Words, But They May Not Be The Truth”:

This made me think of my recent foray into the realm of anaphylaxis.  If you walked into an emergency room and took a picture, without context or a base of knowledge from which to evaluate the photo, any number of horrendous stories could be concocted around the photo and sold to the public.”  (Go over to Isis’ blog to read more and view the photo that makes the point so well.)

The Broward-Palm Beach New Times might consider this and examine more closely the claims made by activist groups before repeating them.

Allyson J. Bennett, Ph.D.

Speaking of Research

The views expressed on this blog post are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, Wake Forest University Health Sciences.

13 thoughts on “Amerijet Stands Firm, AR Activists Continue to Deceive

  1. Primate Products claims the monkeys in the leaked photos caused the injuries to one another. “Claims” is the key word here. Anyone that looks at the photos can clearly see that sections of their heads have been removed cleanly.

    Even if the monkeys did hurt each other, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s wrong to kidnap someone and cram them in a cage with total strangers. What’s expected to happen, especially when they are subjected to torture and mistreatment? Of course they’re going to go crazy and hurt themselves and others. Primate Products should still be held accountable regardless.

    The bottom line is that animal research is unethical and deceiving. It allows big phara to sell us drugs they claim were tested to be safe, but cause side effects in humans that may not have shown up in monkeys. The FDA and USDA will protect the industry no matter what because there’s too much money involved.

    Why not make a post about how every other airline continues to refuse to transport animals for vivisection? Worldwide Products inc contacted several airlines, all whom turned them down. Seems like Amerijet is alone in this battle.

    1. You know it’s funny, for all these animal rights people who claim to have only the animals best interests at heart, a remarkably few know anything about animal behavior. Most of the primates used in research were bred in captivity, not “kidnapped”. Primates living the wild fight without being in captivity. Many are actually quite violent. It’s not like there are communities of monkeys out there peacefully singing kumbaya when suddenly they were snatched. Try watching National Geographic sometime.

      Your comment about animal research only allowing big pharma to make more money is shockingly stupid. It shows you know little of what you are talking about and apparently only read the pamphlets handed out by like-minded fools. I’d attempt to explain how and why you’re hopelessly wrong, but I fear it would be pointless.

      1. This argument is pretty tired. I get that you feel better calling people who disagree with you stupid and ignorant, and I get that you aren’t patient or thoughtful enough to engage with the underlying issue. The bankruptcy of SR’s attempts to present the reasonable approach to these issues is becoming clearer as time goes on. (And I’m one of your readers who think we need more nuanced thinking about the use of animals in research). But, SR is devolving into PZ Meyers crossed with Humanewatch–an approach that will not succeed in the end.

        The questions have to do with the likelihood that the injury shown in the photo which appears to many viewers as clean and precise was caused in a fight or by researchers. I don’t think we know, although the explanation by Primate Products is plausible, the fact that animals fight in the wild and in captivity only makes it plausible but does not provide any positive evidence in its favor. I tend to be agnostic about the causal dispute at this point.

        But there is another question which is whether the owners of the animal are responsible for the condition within which the injury occurred. That seems likely to me, but then I don’t know much about the condition within which these animals are kept. (The link to Isis’s fatuous blog post comparing the picture to an ER room picture can be seen to be irrelevant –unless that nurse caused that dude’s anaphylaxis, or imprisoned him in a situation where someone else caused anlphylaxis it’s simply a bad analogy–but argument ain’t the strong suit over at science-blogs anymore than it is here).

        As for Amerijet “standing strong”–meh. As pointed out above, no victory there, just dudes want to get paid.

        The big pharma comment above is also worth more careful thought and reflection than you are apparently willing or able to give it. Regulation of animal use in this country has always been overly friendly to economic interests. We see that clearly with the USDA and its refusal to allow cattle owners to test their animals for mad-cow disease. This regulation only makes sense (and in fact explicitly acknowledges) that economic effects on the beef industry is what the USDA cares about more than safety even of consumers. Regulations governing the biomedical industries use of animals has the same bias in favor of economic interests over animal welfare. This is not a “shockingly stupid” point, but one that is easily established with a fairly cursory review of the history of regulation of animal use.

        But, I’m sure you could explain (I mean assert since that’s all you do) that that point is “shockingly stupid.”

      2. The reason I called the comments shockingly stupid is because we have this discussion every time we talk about animal rights vs research. I could explain until I’m blue in the face why the comments were wrong but it won’t change your mind one bit. Pharmaceutical research is only one part of animal research. I’m not even sure if it’s the biggest part or not. I know of researchers doing studies on Alzheimer’s, seizures, cancer, and nutrition and none of them are testing new drugs. But yet animal rights representatives seem to only mention pharmaceutical research as though that’s the only type happening. Not by a long shot.

        As for the Amerijet post, I called that stupid because even a 30 second Google search proves that wrong. So yes, I find the comments shockingly stupid because the poster required little to no thought or research to make the comments.

        As for animal welfare, again animal rights people point to the Animal Welfare Act as though that’s the only regulation that we follow. It isn’t. There are many more and whether you choose to believe it or not they are geared towards the animal’s welfare, not the money involved in the research. But again, I can talk until I’m blue in the face and you won’t believe me.

      3. So because the comment didn’t mention everything you think is relevant, you assume ignorance and stupidity, and because it inaccurately asserted one claim, we have shocking stupidity. Bah, you and the extremists deserve each other.

        “There are many more and whether you choose to believe it or not they are geared towards the animal’s welfare, not the money involved in the research.”

        Which regulations are you referring to? PHS regulations? Well, I don’t know whether they apply to Primate Products or not. But maybe they do. So which regulations are relevant to this conversation or are you just going to keep talking about what “AR people” know or don’t know in empty generalities?

        If it’s the PHS regulations (or USDA regs), well they state that pain management is important when it’s consistent with scientific principle which clearly shows the relative importance of welfare and use. Welfare is trumped by the use to which the animals are being put. So, even on the most charitable interpretation of these rules, welfare takes a back seat, which is essentially what commenter above was pointing out, which is not shockingly stupid.

    2. By the way, there are many airlines that ship animals for research. I’m not going to do your homework for you, but Amerijet is not alone. Again, shockingly stupid.

      1. An inability to be everywhere at once has very little empirical connection to brain capacity.

  2. In the interests of transparency, shouldn’t Allyson Bennett note that her employer– Wake Forest University– is a Primate Products customer?

    I’m surprised that Speaking of Research is highlighting Amerijet’s letter. It’s hardly an endorsement of animal research. In fact, the only related comment is that transporting animals by air is more humane than other methods. Amerijet clearly does not want to be drawn into a debate about the value of animal research.

  3. everyone’s got their credibility fight, but “TERRORIST BOOGEYMAN” trumps “out of context photos” for worst argument .

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