Break the Chain Cat Got Your Tongue?

Created 1/17/2002 (11/1/2002) If the Internet community learned anything from the Bonsai Kitten farce, it's that you don't pick on cats without earning the wrath of those who love the cute furry pets.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

--CONTROVERSIAL CAT EXPERIMENTS LEADS A BIG LAWSUIT:

This is some $1.68 million study - that is sure to make you mad and sad at the same time....

I believe that there is some benefit to be gained by using animals, including cats, in certain scientific studies, as long as they are never subjected to pain, suffering and unnecessary death. It seems that this "study" I'll be sharing with you today is totally improper. See what you think....

It was reported last month that The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the federal National Institutes of Health (NIH) for concealing information about a controversial experiment involving live cats at Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus.

It seems that many experiments, funded by the NIH and conducted by Ohio State University veterinarian, Michael Podell, include the following:

--1. Podell giving cats methamphetamine ("speed"), a powerful drug of abuse.

--2. Podell infecting cats with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

--3. Podell subjecting cats to spinal taps and other stressful and painful procedures before killing them to examine their brains.

These experiments were done in an attempt to create an "animal model" that would show the brain damage known to occur in humans who are both drug abusers and infected with the AIDS virus.

PCRM is suing NIH under the Freedom of Information Act for withholding many of the details of Podell's work. They want to know his justification for choosing cats for his experiment, his behavioral testing procedures, and his plans for removing the cats' brains.

When the PCRM received a copy of Podell's grant application for review earlier in the year, they found that the NIH had removed large portions of pertinent data.

PCRM believes that this is improper research. They argue that research of the effects of amphetamines and HIV would be more properly done in HIV-positive individuals already being treated with amphetamines for depression and in HIV-positive drug abusers.

They stated, "Cats cannot show language deficits, subtle learning problems, hallucinations, delusions, or other neurological effects that are known to occur in drug abusers. Moreover, the cat virus, FIV, is very different from HIV, and cat results would not apply to people."

Many critics, including neurologists, AIDS activist organizations, and physicians specializing in drug addiction, have spoken out about the study's serious scientific shortcomings.

But in spite of all the outcry, the dozens of protests by a Columbus animal protection group, and national media coverage, the division of the NIH called the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), recently granted Podell the second installment on his five-year, $1.68-million study! Yes that's $1.68 million!

I just thought you might like to know about some of the goings on with the so called scientific cat experiments. Can you imagine this happening to one of your babies?

What's this guy, a vet, even, going to do to them next?

I'm going to write a letter to the NIH and Dr. Podell right away, how about you?

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

The basic claims in this chain, which started circulating in January, 2002, are true. Dr. Michael Podell was an Associate Professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences and Center for Retrovirus Research, College of Veterinary Medicine at the Ohio State University. His FIV research provoked a great deal of protest from animal rights and AIDS research advocates alike. Podell abandoned the study and the University after several death threats and is now a veterinarian in private practice.

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On October 29, 2002, University officials announced the study would resume under the direction of two of Podell's former assistants. Dr. Larry Mathes, who has taken lead on the project says that, because of breakthroughs since Podell's study began, he and his staff expect to use far fewer than the 120 cats the original study called for. Animal rights groups plan to protest the revised project.

The above chain is provided as the opinion of an anonymous author. Though most of the information provided is accurate as of this version, the reliability of the author is in question. Plus, e-chains are prone to mutations as they are forwarded, thus reducing their validity. Now, nearly a year after the story first broke, letters like the above continue to circulate, appearing as recent news, though failing to keep up with the latest developments.

Also, this letter suggests that you write authorities, but doesn't give you addresses. And, most of the sites and chain letters that do give contact information have failed to keep up with the recent administration change at OSU.

What Do You Think?

Category: Armchair Activism
References: About.com, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, CNN.com, Columbus Dispatch - October 30, 2002


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