12/08/05 Who is Responsible for the Suffering of the Beagles?

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Animal Friends asks the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine's cooperation in solving the beagles scandal

Illegal activities concerning dog experiments took place four months ago inside of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine when the "scientist" Antun Brkic violated not only regulations and veterinary code of ethics, but also the Croatian Animal Welfare Act according to which experiments on the animals are allowed only if there are no other scientific alternatives left. The pain, suffering and injuries imposed upon the animals should be ethically justified by results expected from those experiments. Such experiments are allowed only if their results are highly important to men, to animals or the science itself. Animal experiments are allowed only if the results of these experiments, despite all available alternatives, are not familiar enough or further investigation is absolutely necessary (Articles 28 and 31). Experiments of bone fracturing with the purpose of studying morphogenetic bone protein (BMP) which Mr. Brkic planned to conduct on the beagles have already been conducted on animals before, and three years ago on people as well.

Anonymous sender of Mr. Brkic's letter!

An anonymous consignor sent us a copy of Mr. Brkic's announcement, dated on October 3, 2005, which he sent to the staff of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and we forwarded to the media. In that announcement Antun Brkic says that on May 24, 2005 the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management approved experiments on 54 rabbits aged 5 months and 54 cross-breed dogs of various age, but not the beagle dogs. Moreover, the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport issued no written approval because there were not enough financial resources for conducting the experiments. Brkic admitted that for that reason dr. Slobodan Vukicevic from the Croatian Association for Mineralized Tissues donated 32 beagle dogs for above mentioned experiment. The dogs arrived at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine on 30 June, and on 11 July (during quarantine time) upon "lively and happy" dogs Mr. Brkic "started to conduct planned procedures on 22 animals."

According to his own statement, Antun Brkic asked and received approval for conducting the experiments upon rabbits and cross-breed dogs. Considering that there is no information about breeders of cross-breed dogs for scientific experiments anywhere in Croatia or abroad, we wonder where from Antun Brkic planned to get the dogs and how it is possible for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management to approve such request. Furthermore, it is unexplainable how can a scientist privately donate dogs to another scientist which conducts experiments in the name of institution where he works as it happened in Brkic and Vukicevic case.

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine washes (or not) its hands clean of the "beagle case"

On July 20, 2005 the Faculty council of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine unanimously signed a resolution of a Committee for investigating the real facts of the "beagle case" which said "the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has not permitted quarantine for beagle dogs' and 'The faculty authorities were not informed about planning, organizing or conducting experiments on beagle dogs," which means that they had no idea what was happening in their own institution. Despite the fact that Antun Brkic conducted illegal activities on the Faculty which are currently being investigated by the State attorney, after the protest we held on November 26 against the bone-fracturer and torturer of the beagles, in a press release which the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine issued last week, they condemned the protest and claimed that "all experiments conducted inside the Faculty have always been exclusively in the function of scientific research work and other basic activities of the Faculty" and that "animal welfare is being monitored by the committee for animal welfare as well as the committee for scientific and research projects." We want to know where were those committees during experiments on beagles as they before said they had no idea whatsoever about beagle experiments.

The beagles as "live flesh"

In spite of such "care" dogs were living in filthy narrow cages, and when they were finally rescued they were horrified and sick. Besides fractured legs, all dogs were underfed, most of them had ear infections, some laryngitis, some had scratches and injuries on their tails from banging cage bars, three had gastritis, one hernia, one had an eye missing, one without tail and anus, and as a result of bad immunity dogs now often suffer from various diseases and are under constant veterinary care. People who adopted the dogs have written documentation to confirm these illnesses. Besides physical illnesses the dogs also slowly recover from traumas. They are still afraid of loud sounds, white robes and strangers, some still twitch and whine in their sleep and some uncontrollably urinate. It is disgraceful that dogs were not medically treated even though they suffered from diseases which are routinely cured, what is just another proof that dogs were just being "live flesh" and they would be killed after experiments were over.

Who will take responsibility in the end?

The most recent statements of people in charge at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, lead by dean Ljiljana Pinter, once again denied the responsibility of their staff for torturing of animals and that way also denied their former announcements when they claimed that some regulations of the Faculty have been violated and that the Faculty has not permitted quarantine for the imported beagle dogs. The history of contradictory and illogical statements of dean Pinter only confirm that the Faculty has not condemned arrogant illegal activities of certain individuals, but moreover tries to cover things up and hide own responsibility for mentioned illegal activities. The lack of monitoring and the fact that dean Pinter has not handed over documentation about curing of the beagles is stunning. What concerns us most of all is that many more animals will be kept inside of the Faculty labs and there will be nobody to support their case.

Therefore we ask dean Pinter, the Ethical Committee and Faculty Council to accept responsibility, while we wait for a response of responsible authorities and results of the internal investigation of Ethical Committee about all experiments conducted inside of the Faculty from past two years as they promised to the public. Moreover, we ask individuals to stop hiding behind institutions, and ask institutions such as the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine to deal with individuals responsible for illegal and unethical treatment of animals. If they don't want to lose their dignity and credibility, the members of the Faculty Council and dean Pinter should stop approving malversations inside of the institution where many other employees do their scientific and educational work correctly.

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