Skip to main content

ASU response to PETA press release

September 28, 2009

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) press release is inaccurate and misleading. Animals are NEVER treated cruelly or inhumanely at ASU. They do not experience pain or distress in the experiments as stated by PETA.

Any animal used in teaching at ASU is either deeply anesthetized or euthanized (the majority), thus experiencing no pain or distress. The euthanasia methods used at ASU are in accordance with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Guidelines on Euthanasia (June 2007). (See last paragraph for details on the specific experiments).

PETA contacted ASU's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) with concerns regarding use of rabbits, frogs, mice, and rats in anatomy and undergraduate physiology and biology labs last January. All instructors intending to use animals for teaching purposes must submit a detailed plan of use to the IACUC and have it approved. The committee evaluated PETA's concerns with the instructors, who provided convincing justification for continuing to use a limited number of live animals in their courses.

ASU supports the responsible study and humane care and treatment of animals in teaching for the purpose of advancing human and animal health. This position recognizes that, at this point in time, life-saving treatments and critical medical advances depend on the study of whole, living organisms, and these advances cannot currently be achieved any other way. Although there currently is no complete alternative to animal use, ASU believes that alternatives to the use of live animals should be developed and the university should employ them wherever possible.

ASU understands and appreciates the fact that people have varying opinions regarding the use of animals in teaching. While alternatives to live animal use may exist and the majority of our instructional labs use non-animal alternatives, these alternatives do not always fully compensate for the experience students receive. The goal of the ASU IACUC is to not only ensure that ASU meets all regulatory requirements, but also to ensure that there is a strategic balance between the quality of teaching and the use of animals.

Any student participating in a class utilizing animals has the option to opt out of an experiment and complete an alternate assignment.

Specifics about the experiments noted by PETA:

• All animals used in teaching at ASU are under deep anesthesia and euthanized according to American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines before they awaken.

• In the experiment noting the use of rabbits, the animals are under deep anesthesia and are euthanized before they wake up. Small incisions are
made in their necks (not holes in their chests) to deliver and monitor drugs, as well as monitor heart rate, respiration and blood pressure.

• Students in this course are typically pre-med students who are learning how to better understand how the body responds to medication. They are learning how to administer and monitor anesthesia, how drugs are administered, and how to observe and monitor physiological responses. These are critical educational components.

• In the experiment noting the use of frogs, the frogs are euthanized by immersing them in an anesthetic solution. Pithing (a pin stick to the
brain) is then performed to ensure that the frog is dead. This method of euthanasia for amphibians (frogs) is an approved method of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and destroys the central nervous system. The animal feels no pain or distress.

• In the experiments noting the use of mice and rats, the animals are euthanized by the instructors according to approved AVMA methods and tissues are harvested to teach students how smooth muscles respond to different hormones.