LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Rutgers has long history of vile, disgusting animal abuse

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

The animal activist group Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN) recently filed a federal complaint against Rutgers University after three nonhuman animals were discovered to have endured horrific deaths in Rutgers University laboratories: a rabbit was boiled alive during cage sterilization, a goat died after becoming stuck in a feeder and a pig died when her bowel was accidentally perforated during an experiment.

These deaths are only the tip of the iceberg. While the rabbit, goat and pig fatalities were considered "accidents" and negligent violations of federal regulations, their deaths were not illegal because nonhuman animals are still considered property under American law. The University's use of these and other animals in unnecessary, wasteful and costly experiments directly result in the untimely and obscure deaths of thousands of living beings every year. 

When I speak to Rutgers students and alumni, they are shocked to learn that Rutgers conducts animal experiments. The business of torturing other animals is not something Rutgers advertises, but it should outrage every student, alumni and taxpayer who supports the University.

Vivisection is the restriction of individuals to confined environments and the routine infliction of pain, injury, deprivation and death for experimentation. Vivisection commonly involves torture under the guise of "science," yet it is inherently unscientific. Many land-grant universities devise all kinds of schemes — including creating new diseases — to acquire "research" monies to torment nonhuman animals and fund archaic experiments. 

Research is big business, so breeders, government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, universities and others who profit generously from vivisection will do anything to keep the money flowing in.

Laboratories are living hells. Some nonhuman animals are born there and never leave. Many spend their entire lives surrounded by concrete and steel, subjected to nonstop physical and emotional pain. Reactions to trauma include persistent gagging from repeatedly having tubes stuck down their throats, chewed off fingernails from anxiety and rocking and banging their heads on cell walls. 

In addition, hyper-vigilance, depression and self-abuse — biting themselves — have also been exhibited in nonhuman animals manipulated in laboratories. These symptoms of distress have also been observed in human animals who have suffered physical and sexual abuse, war and other traumatic experiences because suffering is universal, no matter who is experiencing it.

In 2010, nine nonhuman primates, 12 cats, three pigs, 114 guinea pigs, 86 rabbits and 445 "other" unknown sentient beings (deer, gerbils, voles and mice) were left to languish in laboratory cages, experimented on, subjected to pain and killed at Rutgers. The database had included countless numbers of nonhuman animals used and discarded at Rutgers going as far back as 1999.

In response to the federal complaint, the University insists that "the highest standards of science, safety, service, and humane care for the animals in our care are met." Despite what Rutgers spin doctors claim, nonhumans confined to laboratories and subjected to experimentation are not treated humanely.

Like the sadistic activities enshrouded behind slaughterhouse walls, unethical and unjust laboratory operations are purposely concealed from the public. Students and workers who participate in vivisection are often in denial themselves, rejecting their victims' very capacity to suffer. Vivisectors employ speciesist language to mitigate their killing for professional and financial gain and exhibit moral dissonance when they insist they "love animals" while justifying their participation in animal abuse and exploitation.

"Whatever their intellectual capacity, humans are spared vivisection because we consider it morally repugnant to inflict suffering or death on any innocent human," said Joan Dunayer, a former lab student and author of "Animal Equality: Language and Liberation." "Nonhumans deserve equal justice ... They need — now — to be spared deprivation, pain and death. They need — right now — to be freed ... Evil is no less evil when its victims are nonhuman."

As a former alumna, I have since renounced Rutgers for their flagrant cruelty and disregard for nonhuman life throughout their corporate-laden "animal science" programs. I have grown weary with Rutgers' cozy and symbiotic relationships with "research" facilities, the pharmaceutical industry and government agencies like the USDA and the National Institutes of Health. 

The fact that student tuition, alumni donations and taxpayer money are funneled into funding outright torture of other animals should disgust everyone, not just those affiliated with Rutgers. 

I implore The Daily Targum and other organizations to do a thorough undercover investigation into these injustices. Regardless of financial constraints, journalistic institutions like the Targum have an obligation to expose wrongdoing and inform its student body and alumni of what their money is aiding and promoting. 

I hope students and alumni will join me in withdrawing their financial support of Rutgers University and demanding an end to the sanctioned abuse and exploitation of nonhuman animals everywhere.

Bethany Cortale is a Rutgers class of '97 graduate with a degree in political science.


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