Steve MacNaull | Original post: Kelowna Daily Courier
Numerous dogs, a couple of cats and a bunny accompanied their humans Monday to protest painful and fatal medical testing on animals.
“These World Day for Animals in Laboratories walks are being held in cities around the world today,” said Kelowna event organizer Karen Stiewe.
“When you hear of golden Labs deliberately crippled with muscular dystrophy for testing who spend their whole lives in pain, you have to act. Similar things are happening to 115 million animals every year, from mice and rats and rabbits and pigs to cats and dogs and monkeys.”
About 50 protesters took part in the walk from The Sails sculpture at the foot of Bernard Avenue downtown through Kerry and Waterfront parks.
Many wore black and carried black balloons as a memorial to all the animals killed worldwide every year in the course of medical research, testing and experimentation.
Placards read: Stop the Torture, Buy Cruelty Free, Stop Animal Testing and Stop Animal Experiments.
Some placards also displayed photos, most of them of a beagle looking sad in a cage, but also some graphic images of a monkey with its head cut open so brain activity can be observed during experimentation.
Many protesters brought their dogs on leashes, and a couple of people came with their cats.
Laila Isaak and Cheryl Lazarus from The Responsible Animal Care Society (TRACS) were accompanied by society beagle Venus and Humpsy the rabbit, who calls one of the TRACS shelters home.
“Beagles and rabbits are used a lot in drug and medical testing,” said Isaak.
“Beagles tend to be chosen because they can be so easily handled by people, and rabbits are plentiful and are considered disposable.”
Stiewe, along with friends Helen Schiele and Carla Irvine, decided to organize the World Day for Animals in Laboratories march in Kelowna after seeing a W5 TV show report on animal testing at ITR Laboratories in Montreal.
“I couldn’t sleep for days after watching it,” she said. “It was so disturbing to see the way the dogs, pigs and monkeys were treated.”
ITR tests various drugs on animals for pharmaceutical companies.
But it wasn’t just the drug testing that got viewers up in arms after watching the program.
Some of the video, shot undercover, shows dogs hit and aggressively thrown into cages, pigs restrained and animals slammed onto stainless-steel operating tables.
The reasoning for animal testing is drugs, cosmetics and household products can be refined, depending on the reaction of animals, so people suffer as few side-effects as possible when they start taking the medications, wearing the makeup or using the bathroom cleaner.
“All these experiments can be done without animals,” said Stiewe.
“But animals are used because the industry is archaic and many of the labs are getting funding from pharmaceutical companies to do this type of testing.”
Postcards distributed at the march listed alternatives to animal testing, ranging from using human cells and tissue cultures for research, clinical studies with people and computer modelling to post-mortem studies, genetic research with DNA chips and human stem cell studies.
Animal testing is legal in Canada, as it is in many countries.
However, Canada is the only G8 country without federal inspectors overseeing the treatment of animals in research and testing.
The Canadian Council on Animal Care has volunteers who investigate complaints about publicly funded facilities, but only with a lab’s co-operation.
Animals in private labs have no representation, said the postcard.
Another postcard distributed at Monday’s event, addressed to Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s attorney general and minister of justice, outlined this and calls on Ottawa to adopt rules similar to other G8 countries that require all labs, suppliers and teaching facilities using animals to be licensed and regulated.
The postcard also demands an immediate ban on the harshest experiments that cause severe pain and death with an eye to ultimately eliminating all harmful research and testing on animals.
For more information, check out adavsociety.org.