During the past month the University of Wisconsin responded to an aggressive media campaign by PeTA suggesting photos of animal studies they obtained are “proof” of violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
PeTA filed complaints with the USDA and the National Institutes of Health demanding an investigation. The university responded point-by-point to PeTA complaint stating that none of them were substantiated.
The USDA took PeTA’s complaint seriously, conducted a focused inspection of the study in question, and found the claims by PeTA to be groundless. As reported by the Capitol Times, the Wisconsin State Journal and the Badger Herald, the USDA found no wrongdoing, no violations of the law. Not one.
How did PeTA respond to the outcome?
Kathy Guillermo, Senior Vice President, Laboratory Investigations, went to Jane Velez-Mitchell (a PeTA supporter) and told her that “we report them [the alleged violations] to the federal authorities, to the USDA and the National Institutes of Health.” But, she added, “We [PeTA] don’t expect much about those agencies.”
What does Guillermo mean that they do not “expect much” when they file their claims with the authorities?
The USDA did take the claims seriously and took action as they requested. They investigated the UW and found PeTA’s allegations to be untrue. What Kathy Guillermo probably means is that when they file a claim PeTA does not expect that the findings will support their allegations. This would make perfect sense, as they probably know beforehand the allegations to be groundless. What PeTA truly expects from their claims is that their propaganda be picked up by the media before they are caught in their game and, unfortunately, they are rather successful in doing just that.
Sadly, it happened again. In response to the USDA inspection PeTA found a former UW veterinarian that supposedly wrote a letter in support of PeTA’s claims which is being covered by the media. But what did this veterinarian say exactly?
[…] Brown said the clear inspection report, which cited “no noncompliant items,” is not the fault of the USDA, or the veterinarian staff, but rather the fault of the administration.
According to Brown, who said he is familiar with the specific inspector who evaluated UW’s research facilities and is confident in her work, it is not in the nature of a USDA inspection to point out what is ethically “wrong,” but rather to cite noncompliance.
Hold on. What is Brown saying?! He is saying the inspector is known to him, that he has confidence in her work and, by inference, in the result of her inspections. What is the problem then? The problem is that in Brown’s eyes the work is unethical. In other words, he acknowledges the work is legal, regulated, and that no violations of the law took place but, nevertheless, the work is unethical and he wanted the UW administration to take action.
His statement is hardly in support of PeTA’s claims. To the contrary, it validates the position of the UW and puts confidence in the work by the USDA inspector. You see, PeTA’s claimed a violation of the Animal Welfare Act — not that the work is unethical.
If PeTA believes the responsible and regulated use of animals to advance medical knowledge and human health is unethical, then they should try to convince the public and our legislators of such view. Instead, their preference to mislead the public and misrepresent the work of scientists are signs they simply cannot make a compelling case to the public.