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Activists protest alleged use of dogs in radiation research

2012/02/14 18:23:54

Taipei, Feb. 14 (CNA) An animal rights group staged a protest Tuesday against an alleged plan to use dogs in radiation toxicity experiments, urging the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) to find an alternative approach.

The protesters gathered in front of the AEC, some dressed in black capes and holding scythes to convey their view that the use of animals in such research is similar to an evil cult practice.

The animal rights group said the Institute of Nuclear Energy Research (INER) last week tendered for an independent company to test the effects of radiation on 40 beagles and an unknown number of rats, but there were no successful bids. However, the institute plans to try again this week, the group said.

The protesters submitted a petition to AEC Vice Chairman Chou Yuan-ching, calling for the institute to find an alternative to animal testing.

The establishment of an "INER radiation testing lab for dogs" would result in animal abuse, they said, urging the AEC to stop construction of the laboratory.

The issue was first raised Feb. 7 by Huang Tai-shan, a representative of the animal rights group, who questioned the use of beagles in INER radiation tests.

Such practices are a violation of the animal protection act, Huang said.

Citing Article 16 of the act, he said a special committee to monitor animal testing has to be established before such experiments can be carried out.

According to Huang, the INER plans to divide the dogs into three test groups and inject them with low, medium and high dosages of radioactive substances. The institute would then monitor the process of the animals’ death and perform necropsies, he said.

However, the INER denied the allegations, saying the dogs were not being used in radiation experiments but rather to test a cancer drug.

The use of beagles in such testing does not violate the animal protection act, since the act distinguishes between pets and animals breed specifically for scientific research, INER associate head Lee Te-wei said on Feb. 7.

His statement was supported by Lin Tsung-yi, chief of the Council of Agriculture's (COA's) Animal Protection Section, who said the same day that INER had set up a special committee to supervise animal testing, in accordance with the animal protection act.

Lin also disclosed that the dogs being used at INER were not strays or animals from shelters, but rather had been bred for scientific research and imported from other countries.

It is common practice internationally to use beagles in scientific research, INER said in a separate statement Monday.

(By Huang Chiao-wen, Lin Hui-chun, Yang Su-min and C.J. Lin)
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