Waste of Lives?
HART sees an end to animal research
The UH chapter of Houston Animal Rights Team wants to ban animal research on campus. HART says
using animals for research is not only
cruel but a needless waste of life because there are alternatives to using
Among the alternatives is the use
of human fetuses and placentas.
"It's basically afterbirth going right
into the trash," Frank San Miguel,
co-president of HART-UH said."T
assume they would come from miscarriages and abortions."
When it was noted that using human fetuses and placentas might not
go over well with anti-abortionists,
San Miguel, a third year journalism
major, said, "I really don't have any
qualms about it. Animal rights activists are concerned with the rights
Robert E. Faith, Jr., director of the
UH Animal Care Committee, which
oversees animal use at UH, says researchers have laudable goals. "And
a lot of the benefits are good for the
animals too," Faith said.
"Not the animals used in the experiments, of course," Faith said.
"But others. For instance, dogs with
An optometry researcher with
that department said he used to
work with primates but no longer
"Human cadaver corneas are more
economical than working with primates and will run you even less
than the price of a rabbit. And you
won't have to worry about animal
rights activists raiding your lab," the
ACC's Faith said the animal rights
debate is one of ethics and that to
"have a debate takes two sides."
Yet some UH researchers said they
needed clearance from Faith before
they could even discuss animal
"I'll have to talk to Bob Faith and
get approval before I release my
information," Earl L. Smith III of
Optometry said. Asked why he
would need clearance from Faith,
who is not in Optometry, Smith said,
"I just want to make sure the university isn't at cross purposes with
Other researchers declined to be
interviewed. Nor would some provide names of colleagues who might
be willing to discuss the issue.
One researcher, however, was
willing to discuss his work.
"My specialty is diarrhea. I've
been studing it for 25 years," biology
Professor David S. Mailman said.
"I go through a dog every week or
two," Mailman said. "I get them
from the pound. I pay $65 an animal."
Robert Armstrong, director of the
Bureau of Animal Regulation and
Care for the City of Houston said the
city charges $35 each for cats or run-
of-the-mill thirty or forty-pound,
straight-legged, short-haired dogs.
However, "For disease-free animals taken by Caesarean section,
prices range up into thousands of
dollars," Armstrong said.
HART alleges that (nationally)
many animals are wasted because of
redundant experiments. Faith says
redundant research is highly unlike-
Yet Armstrong, whose department
sold about 500 animals to UH last
year, said that redundant research is
not unheard of. "There have been
instances (at other institutions)
where redundant research was done
in order to generate more research
funds," Armstrong said.
Julie T. Norris, assistant vice president of Sponsored Programs and a
member of ACC, said, "We try to use
as few animals as possible to get valid results."
Norris said UH used about 6,400
animals last yar.
After the experiments are terminated, the animals are "sacrificed
and then disposed of through incineration," Mailman said.
Norris said animals that have undergone radioactive or biological
contamination are handled with special precautions.
As to HART's question of whether
animals suffer at the hands of UH
researchers, "Under the guidelines,
that is not allowed," Barbara E. De
Haven, a proposal specialist, said.
When posed the same question,
ACC director Faith replied, "There
are some experiments that can't be
done any other way."
Faith, who describes himself as an
animal welfare advocate, said, "You
cannot use an animal and create a
painful situation unless you can justify it."
"We have very few animals here
that suffer needlessly," Faith said.
Faith also said he thinks both sides
will probably find common ground
on which to carry on the debate. "But
that's going to exclude the fringes,
because the fringes are extremely
"We are realistic, rational people/'
San Miguel said, "Ideally, our goal is
to see the end of animal research on
campus. But we know it's not going
to happen overnight. "-L. Poling