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Group claims university blinded and killed dogs

Portrait of a beagle

Portrait of a beagle

COLUMBIA, Mo. – An animal rescue group claims that researchers at the University of Missouri purposely blinded and killed six beagles during and after a failed medical experiment, KCTV reported.

In a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Ophthalmology in May, university researchers said they put hyaluronic acid in the dogs’ eyes in order to conduct a medical test for the treatment of corneal ulcers.

Scientists concluded the treatment they were testing did not speed up corneal wound healing as they were hoping.

The study does not say what happened to the dogs that were used in the experiment, however, the Beagle Freedom Project claims that the dogs were killed.

“Based on the research it seems they only blinded the dogs in one eye. They still had one functioning eye. They did have some sight, and even if the dogs were blinded in both eyes, that doesn’t mean that can’t enjoy a good quality life,” Kevin Chase, vice-president of the Beagle Freedom Project said.

The Beagle Freedom Project works to rescue dogs that are used for scientific and medical research.

The group says 96,000 dogs are used in research every year, with 90 percent of them being beagles.

“Beagles, as a breed, are naturally very docile and trusting of humans. Research laboratories buy them from companies who purpose-breed beagles in order to amplify these inherent traits so that they are easier for lab technicians to handle,” the group wrote on its website.

The university released a statement but did not directly address the study that caused the controversy.

“Without animal research, we would not be able to answer some of the most important medical questions,” the school said. “Animal research is only done when scientists believe there is no other way to study the problem, and our researchers respect their research animals greatly and provide the utmost care.”

Chase dismissed the university’s internal controls as “a rubber stamp.” He said there are other ways researchers could have conducted the experiment.

Chase said his group is suing Mizzou for charging them $82,000 for copies of their current research projects.

While preparing for that lawsuit, the group came across the Mizzou study that has a lot of animal rights activists furious.

Chase said the Mizzou experiment should have never happened in the first place.

“Veterinary offices across the country participate in such trials of dogs that already have damaged eyes,” he said. “We don’t have to purposely blind nine-month-old beagle puppies.”

The following is the University of Missouri’s full statement on its use of dogs for research:

“Without animal research, we would not be able to answer some of the most important medical questions.

Researchers at the University of Missouri are working to develop painless or non-invasive treatments for corneal injuries to the eyes of people and dogs, including search and rescue dogs and other service animals. Common injuries to the cornea can include force trauma, chronic defects and surgical procedures, and can lead to blindness. Since dogs share similar eye characteristics with people, they are ideal candidates for corneal studies, and veterinarians have provided vital information to physicians and veterinarians treating corneal injuries, which ultimately benefit other dogs, animals and humans, including many of our U.S. veterans who have sustained corneal injuries while defending our country.

All studies were performed in accordance with the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Statement for the Use of Animals in Ophthalmic and Vision Research (as seen here) and were approved by the MU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. The animals were treated humanely and every effort was made to ensure dogs were as comfortable as possible during the tests to study the effectiveness of the new drug treatment.

Animal research is only done when scientists believe there is no other way to study the problem, and our researchers respect their research animals greatly and provide the utmost care.

Research in vision and ophthalmology improves the quality of life for both animals and humans.”