PETA’s Shareholder Proposal Calls for Thorough Evaluation of Near-Drowning Experiments on Mice and Rats

PETA’s Shareholder Proposal Calls for Thorough Evaluation of Near-Drowning Experiments on Mice and Rats

Indianapolis – When Eli Lilly shareholders join the company’s virtual annual meeting on Monday, they’ll have the opportunity to vote on a proposal from PETA—which owns stock in the company—that the company assesses the effectiveness of the forced swim test and report its findings to shareholders.

Since November 2018, PETA and more than 325,000 members of the public have contacted Eli Lilly to request a formal policy banning the use, funding, or commissioning of the test . In the widely discredited test, mice and other small animals are placed in inescapable beakers filled with water and made to swim to keep from drowning, purportedly to shed light on the effectiveness of anti-depressant medications. But it has been heavily criticized by scientists who argue that when the terrified mice begin to float, it isn’t a sign of depression or despair, as some claim, but rather a positive indicator of learning, saving energy, and adapting to a new environment.

“While the fear of drowning is very real for the animals involved in the forced swim test, the experience in no way represents the enduring and multidimensional nature of depression,” says PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell. “When nine of Eli Lilly’s biggest competitors have banned this atrocity at PETA’s request, it’s baffling that it refuses to acknowledge that it’s defending archaic practices.”

Between 1993 and 2019, Eli Lilly employees published at least 20 papers and submitted at least 11 patent applications describing the use of the forced swim test in experiments involving more than 3,400 mice and rats. Yet the test did not reliably predict the success of a single medication. Eli Lilly’s one successful antidepressant that’s known to help humans, Prozac, doesn’t yield consistent results in the forced swim test.

Bayer, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk A/S, Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, Roche, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Sage Therapeutics, and other pharmaceutical companies banned the forced swim test after hearing from PETA.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview that fosters violence toward other animals.

For more information, please visit PETA.org or click here.

1918 FLU PANDEMIC

Why the Second Wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu Was So Bloody

People are so ready to get back to life, forgetting that in 1918 the second wave of the Spanish Flu reportedly killed 20-50 million. The first wave only killed 3-5 million. History does indeed repeat.

The horrific scale of the 1918 influenza pandemic—known as the “Spanish flu”—is hard to fathom. The virus infected 500 million people worldwide and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims—that’s more than all of the soldiers and civilians died during World War I consolidated. 

While the global pandemic lasted for twenty-four months, a significant amount of deaths were packed into three exceptionally rough months in the autumn of 1918. Annalists now accept that the deadly sharpness of the Spanish Flu’s “second wave” was caused by a mutated virus dispersed by wartime company actions.

When the Spanish Flu first appeared in early March 1918, it had all the hallmarks of the seasonal Flu, albeit a profoundly transmissible, infectious contagious, dangerous, and destructive strain. One of the first recorded cases was Albert Gitchell, a U.S. Army cook at Camp Funston in Kansas, who was hospitalized with a 104-degree fever. The virus expanded swiftly through the Army base, home to 54,000 troops. By the end of the month, 1,100 soldiers had been hospitalized, and 38 had fallen after contracting pneumonia.

As U.S. troops stationed en masse for the war effort in Europe, they carried the Spanish Flu with them. Throughout April and May of 1918, the virus flowed like wildfire through England, France, Spain, and Italy. A predicted three-quarter of the French military was tainted in the spring of 1918 and as many as half of British troops. Yet the first wave of the virus didn’t appear to be particularly deadly, with symptoms like high fever and malaise usually lasting only three days. According to restricted public health data from the time, fatality rates were related to annual Flu.

Historians believe that the fast spread of Spanish Flu in the fall of 1918 was somewhat to impute on public health officials opposed to imposing quarantines during wartime. In Britain, for example, a government official named Arthur Newsholme understood full well that a strict private lockdown was the most reliable way to fight the scope of the profoundly infectious virus. But he wouldn’t jeopardize damaging the battle manufacturers by keeping munitions industry artisans and other noncombatants homely.

According to many researchers, “the constant needs of warfare proved to incur [the] risk of spreading disease” and encouraged Britons to “carry on” during the pandemic.

A severe nursing shortage further thwarted the public health answer to the crisis in the United States as thousands of nurses had been deployed to military camps and the front lines. The deficit was worsened by the American Red Cross’s refusal to use trained African American nurses until the worst of the pandemic had already passed.

1918 Pandemic (H1N1 virus)

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pandeminc header 2 Why the Second Wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu Was So Bloody

The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is no universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide from 1918-1919.  In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.

Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic. While the 1918 H1N1 virus has been synthesized and evaluated, the properties that made it so devastating are not well understood. With no vaccine to protect against influenza infection and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can be associated with influenza infections, control efforts worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings, which were applied unevenly.

Urgent From PETA: Hot-Weather Survival Tips for Animals

Urgent From PETA: Hot-Weather Survival Tips for Animals

hotweather 1024x684 Urgent From PETA: Hot Weather Survival Tips for Animals

Austin, Texas – With record-breaking high temperatures expected this weekend in Texas, animals can quickly succumb to heatstroke if left outdoors. In the past two years, there have been at least 114 hot weather-related animal deaths—and these are just the ones that have been reported. Most aren’t.

Anyone who leaves animals outside to suffer in severe weather may be prosecuted for cruelty.

The following tips will help keep animal companions safe in hot weather:

  • Keep animals indoors. Unlike humans, dogs can sweat only through their footpads and cool themselves by panting, so even brief sun exposure can have life-threatening consequences. Anyone who sees animals in distress and is unable to help should note their locations and alert authorities immediately.
  • Never leave an animal inside a hot vehicle. Temperatures can quickly soar in parked cars, and a dog trapped inside can die from heatstroke within minutes—even if the car is in the shade with the windows slightly open, which has little to no effect on lowering the temperature inside the car. PETA offers an emergency window-breaking hammer for help with intervening in life-or-death situations.
  • Avoid hot pavement. When outdoor temperatures reach the 80s, asphalt temperatures can climb to 140 degrees, causing pain, burns, and permanent damage to dogs’ paws after just a few minutes of contact. Walk dogs on grass whenever possible, and avoid walking in the middle of the day. Never run with dogs in hot weather—they’ll collapse before giving up, at which point, it may be too late to save them.

PETA has released a warm-weather public service announcement featuring Mckenna Grace. For more information, visit PETA.org.

Microchipped pets are 2.5 times more likely to be returned to their owners.

Microchipped pets are 2.5 times more likely to be returned to their owners.

What is a Pet Microchip?

Pet microchips are small, permanent identification chips that are about the size of a grain of rice. They are injected between the shoulder blades with a needle, and the process is about as quick as a vaccination. Most pets go through the one-time process without so much as a squeak. The estimated cost to implant and register a microchip ranges from about $25 to $75. However, VIP Petcare charges only $19, with free lifetime registration.

VIP Petcare microchips are internationally recognized and meet ISO requirements (International Organization for Standardization). This promotes compatibility between chips and scanners. VIP Petcare uses universal scanners, which read multiple microchip frequencies sold by different microchip manufacturers.

Your pet’s microchip ID code, just like your pet, is one of a kind. When your lost pet is taken to an animal shelter or veterinary clinic, they will scan your pet for a microchip and read its unique code. This code is stored with your pet’s profile and linked to your contact information.

Registration and keeping your contact information updated is just as necessary as microchipping. VIP Petcare automatically registers every recorded and implanted microchip into the found.org database within five days. Found Animals Microchip Registry is a free, national, nonprofit database that was conceived in support of a single belief: all lost pets need to find their way home.

Identification tags can become lost quickly, and tattoos may not always be legible. Only about 15% of dogs and 2% of cats without permanent identification return home to their owners. Approximately 9 million companion animals are admitted to shelters in the U.S. every year. Many of these are euthanized because their owners cannot be found.

Only a pet microchip can offer a genuinely permanent identification. Hundreds of thousands of pets have returned home thanks to a chip.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the Humane Society of the United States all recommend microchipping.

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iHeartDogs.com Launches “Pet Product Accelerator Program”

iHeartDogs.com Launches “Pet Product Accelerator Program”

Anaheim, California (August 15, 2019) — Online retailer and pet media outlet iHeartDogs.com has announced the full launch of their “Pet Product Accelerator” program, seeking to partner with up and coming innovative pet brands by introducing them to their 1 million+ customers. This announcement comes at the perfect time right before the industry tradeshow – SuperZoo.

“Our goal is to find more amazing products that improve the lives of pets and people. We’re looking for inventors pursuing the “American Dream”, cause-driven brands, and purpose-driven products that make a difference in pet health and wellbeing to launch to our passionate customers.” says Justin Palmer, CEO of iHeartDogs. Think of it as a “Shark Tank” for pet products.

iHeartDogs.com, an Inc 500 company, has charted its own course since it launched 5 years ago. Focused more on educating customers about quality products and brands, the goal was to become a trusted, safe, reliable resource for pet parents everywhere. Is it working? With 30 million followers, 1.5 million email subscribers and 5 million readers, the company believes it definitely is. 

“We see ourselves as an alternative to brandless, faceless online channels like Amazon or Chewy where products from around the world compete on price, not quality or uniqueness. A place where customers can get trusted, quality brands at a great value,” says iHeartDogs.com President, Marshall Morris. In addition, every product sold gives back to shelters and rescues in big ways creating loyalty not typically seen in an online company. 

Last year, iHeartDogs piloted their Pet Product Accelerator program with several product partnerships. One product, a popular toy that allows dogs to brush their own teeth, sold over 75,000 units. “The smashing success of this and other product launches and told us we need to formalize this program,” says Palmer. 

Between now and the end of the year, iHeartDogs is looking to partner with 10 new brands for their Pet Product Accelerator program.

For brands that meet certain requirements, the program also includes $20,000 worth of advertising provided by the iHeartDogs blog and email newsletter, currently reaching over 5 million dog owners per month. 

Advancing Veterinary Care: Cancer Care

Talking canine cancer awareness with UMN

jaime modiano Talking canine cancer awareness with UMN
Credit: Liz Banfield

Hemangiosarcoma is a highly invasive type of cancer that grows rapidly. It primarily forms in dogs, but can also develop in humans and other animals.

Jaime Modiano with the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and Masonic Cancer Center answers questions about what hemangiosarcoma is, the current standard of care, and the implications his cancer research has for veterinary and human medicine.

Q: What is hemangiosarcoma?
Dr. Modiano: Few canine cancers are deadlier than hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of blood vessel-forming cells. This cancer is unpredictable, develops painlessly and is often advanced by the time it is discovered. Severe internal bleeding and sudden death occur frequently and unexpectedly with this disease. A dog’s breed, age, gender, diet and environment do not impact the progression of this cancer.

Q: What is the survival rate for dogs with hemangiosarcoma?
Dr. Modiano: Hemangiosarcoma is most common in older dogs; more than half of the dogs that develop hemangiosarcoma are over 10 years old. Without treatment, the probability of survival can range from days to a few weeks. With treatment, the expected survival is four to six months, though this depends on the tumor’s location. Despite the aggressive nature of the disease, about five to 15 percent of dogs with hemangiosarcoma may survive a year or longer.

Q: What is the current standard of care for dogs with hemangiosarcoma?
Dr. Modiano: The standard of care is surgical removal of accessible tumors — depending on the location — followed by chemotherapy. Treatment is meant to prevent fatal blood loss and to extend life, but is seldom curative. Chemotherapy delays the recurrence of metastasis, which occurs in virtually every dog diagnosed with this cancer. The combination of surgery and chemotherapy is the only approach that has repeatedly shown to be effective. I strongly recommend owners pursue treatment options based on objective data and not on anecdotal information that creates false hope and unrealistic expectations by the pet owners and their veterinarians.

Q: How might research about hemangiosarcoma impact human medicine?
Dr. Modiano: There are many similarities between human and dog cancers — they arise spontaneously in both species, and, in some form, cancer will affect between 25 to 35 percent of both populations. Cancer is the major cause of disease-related mortality in dogs, as it is in humans in an increasing number of countries. Dogs can help us understand the lifelong impact of new strategies to diagnose, prevent and treat cancer  because their lives are measured in the span of about a decade. As we develop tests for early detection that can be paired with new drugs for active, targeted prevention, success in dogs would provide an impetus for, and confidence in, further developing these approaches to assign cancer risk, and to use preventative strategies in humans. 

Q: What are you and your team doing to reduce the impact of hemangiosarcoma?
Dr. Modiano: The Shine On Project at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine is following over 200 healthy dogs at risk for developing hemangiosarcoma. The goal is to evaluate the use of a novel blood test to assign a level of risk to each of these dogs. Dogs that are at a high risk are eligible to receive eBAT — a promising drug developed at the University of Minnesota — as a preventative tool. eBAT is unique because it can kill the emerging cancer cells and irreparably damage the environment they need before they have a chance to form a tumor. An added advantage to eBAT is that it is exceptionally safe.

Our approach of detecting hemangiosarcoma early on through The Shine On Project and then combating it with eBAT is something our team now looks to apply to other types of cancer — most notably, osteosarcoma. Rather than curing dogs that already have cancer, we set ourselves apart by detecting it early and fighting it with specific, customized treatments, as we have done with the Shine On Project and our use of eBAT.

Jaime Modiano is the Alvin and June Perlman Professor of Oncology and Comparative Medicine in the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and a Masonic Cancer Center member. His areas of expertise include cancer and immunology research.

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