Rescue organization alleges MU researchers blinded, killed beagles in experiment

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Researchers at the University of Missouri – Columbia have recently come under fire after an Los Angeles-based research project alleged the researchers purposely blinded six beagles and then killed them after a failed experiment, KMOX reports.

The university tried to charged a Los Angeles-based Beagle Freedom Project nearly $82,000 for copies of its research projects. The project, which is a non-profit that finds homes for animals who survive medical research, decided to sue the university for trying to charge them thousands for the copies.

KMOX reports that while the organization was waiting on the suit, the project’s vice president, Kevin Chase, sorted through animal research that the university published. Chase eventually came across a study published in the 2016 Journal of Veterinary Ophthalmology.

“[The university researchers] killed these six beagles after purposefully damaging their corneas pouring an experimental acid into them and then killing them when they’re done because the experiment failed,” Chase told KMOX.

KMOX reports that according to the published study, researchers were trying to test a treatment for corneal ulcers.

“And so if the acid they dripped into the cornea of these dogs had proven successful … it still would have been considered, by their standards, ineffective research or invalid research because the population study was too small to be studied,” Chase told KMOX.

Chase told KMOX this is the most “troubling” experiment he has seen during his four-years with the Beagle Freedom Project.

Although the study does not explicitly say the dogs were killed following the experiment, Chase alleges they were.

“This research was flawed before even one dog was procured, blinded or killed,” he told KMOX.

Read the full study here

The university issued the following statement to KMOX: 

“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.”

Chase told KMOX the reason Beagles are primarily used in the research industry is because, “They’re docile, easy to handle, people pleasing and forgiving.”

According to Chase there are 65,000 dogs currently in U.S. labs and 90-percent of those dogs are beagles.

Click here to read more from KMOX.