Nathan Herschler, Executive Director, January 19, 2021
We knew we were close when we saw the bright orange warning sign.
TRESPASSING FOR ANY REASON IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED.
I stepped out of the car and took a deep breath. Our research team had no intention of breaking any laws. We stood on public land. Still, I was uneasy. I knew we were being watched.
Marshall BioResources, one of the largest breeders of dogs for the animal experimentation industry in the United States, enlists a private security company to patrol the roads of rural North Rose, NY.
I held out my phone, pressed record.
It was hard to see through the dense pines Marshall grows to hide their enormous facility. They fortify their perimeter with man-made berms, like an army defending against enemy tanks. Barbed wire fences surround Marshall’s windowless warehouses—where 23,000 dogs are stacked in wire cages, rarely seeing the light of day.
I thought, Maybe they just took over an old prison?
Companies who profit off of animal experimentation know their work is morally reprehensible. Marshall is like a puppy mill and a factory farm. And they’ll do whatever it takes to keep their animal abuse hidden from the public.
Amy, a member of our research team, spotted a car idling nearby. Still recording, I turned to see the security patrol inch closer. They had their camera trained on us, capturing our every move.
If they thought they could scare us away from helping these dogs, they were wrong. We were just getting started.
Fueling a Movement to End Suffering
As a Rise for Animals supporter, you know the core values that drive us are love and optimism for our shared future. We know things can be better. We believe we can overcome the forces against justice for animals and the health of American people. Like all issues of justice, we the people have the power. And as 2020 proved, we must exert our power to win.
2020 was a year of reckoning. In the face of one of the most traumatic years on record, more people rose up to fight against a broad spectrum of injustices than at any other time since the civil rights era. Across the country, people of conscience took to the streets to protest the killing of unarmed Black individuals by police; the inhumane detention of children and families seeking asylum; and economic systems that pillage the labor of the working class and rob families of their dignity, health, and homes.
And animal lovers like you took action to stop the torture of thinking, feeling beings in labs.
Supporters like you took over 22,640 actions to stop animals from suffering. And animal activists around the country took part in our first-of-its kind workshop series to build the leadership and campaigning skills.
We worked with over 70 members of Congress to win passage of key language that expresses support for a life-saving requirement—that any experimenters using our tax dollars must find ways to have animals adopted, instead of killing them, after testing ends.
We are on a mission to end all animal experimentation in our lifetime. And we are closer than ever to achieving our goal. But to make history and win this fight, we need to understand the history that got us here.
Dispelling the Myth that’s Led to the Torture and Killing of Billions of Animals
The year was 1937. Our nation was responding to a historic tragedy. More than 100 people in 15 states were fatally poisoned by a new antibiotic drug. Most of the victims were children being treated for sore throats.
“The first time I ever had occasion to call in a doctor for [Joan] and she was given Elixir of Sulfanilamide. All that is left to us is the caring for her little grave. Even the memory of her is mixed with sorrow for we can see her little body tossing to and fro and hear that little voice screaming with pain and it seems as though it would drive me insane. … It is my plea that you will take steps to prevent such sales of drugs that will take little lives…” —Mother of a young victim, from her letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt[source]
National grief led to an uproar. Who would be held accountable? How to stop this from happening again? In 1937, there were no safeguards to stop the sale of unsafe, untested drugs. The pharmaceutical company claimed it did nothing wrong.
“My chemists and I deeply regret the fatal results, but there was no error in the manufacture of the product. We have been supplying a legitimate professional demand … I do not feel that there was any responsibility on our part.”
—Dr. Samual Evans Massengill, owner of S.E. Massengill Co. [source]
For others involved, the sense of responsibility weighed heavily.
“…To realize that six human beings, all of them my patients, one of them my best friend, are dead because they took medicine that I prescribed for them innocently…as recommended by a great and reputable pharmaceutical firm in Tennessee: well, that realization has given me such days and nights of mental and spiritual agony as I did not believe a human being could undergo and survive. I have known hours when death for me would be a welcome relief from this agony.” —Dr. A.S. Calhoun, from a letter dated October 22, 1937
Harold Watkins, the company’s head chemist, took his own life.
American lawmakers grappled with the challenge of preventing future tragedies. Senator Royal Copeland of New York, a noted homeopath and primary author of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, had an idea—try potentially toxic chemicals on animals before giving them to humans.
“Better the animals than children,” I’m sure he said to himself.
And even though there was absolutely no evidence that animal experimentation provides any benefit in the drug development process, this was the first time United States law required the use of animal tests before giving a new drug to humans.
Eighty-three years later, with billions of animals killed and untold sums of research dollars wasted, we know the truth: animal testing does not work. The science simply does not support the widely held folk belief that animal experiments help us find important cures.
“Results from tests on animals … are highly inconsistent predictors of toxic responses in humans, and are little better than what would result merely by chance—or tossing a coin—in providing a basis to decide whether a compound should proceed to testing in humans.”
—Dr. Jarrod Bailey of the Center for Contemporary Sciences
Roughly half of all failures in clinical trials on people result from unanticipated toxicity that wasn’t present in animal experiments. Researchers know this. What’s more, when the stakes are high and time is of the essence, medical experts tell us animal testing is not needed.
Today, we have the knowledge and controls in place to skip right over animal studies. We have the power to accelerate cures for the people we love, redirecting wasted resources and ending the daily suffering of helpless animals.
So why does this barbaric practice continue? Greed.
Taking on a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
A lot of people are getting very rich on the backs of tortured animals.
Every year, our government allocates more than $20 billion in taxpayer dollars to animal experimentation.
Pharmaceutical and chemical industries, who vigorously lobby Congress and the Administration to keep their grants and tax breaks, receive multi-billion dollar taxpayer subsidies for their research using animals.
Corporate breeders like Marshall BioResources sell animals to laboratories across the country and around the world. Many labs pay more than $1,000 per dog, after factoring in Marshall’s shipping fees. To date, Rise for Animals has identified more than 100 labs across the United States that have purchased and experimented on animals from Marshall.
Temple University is one of them.
A PhD student at Temple used dozens of mixed hounds from Marshall to complete her horrifying dissertation. She sliced the spinal roots of these dogs, cutting off their tails, and implanting electrodes on their bladders. She killed dogs as part of the research, sometimes cutting out their bladders from their abdomens first. The student mockingly titled her paper, in part, To Pee or Not to Pee.
I wish I could say that the brutal, misguided behavior of this young researcher is an outlier, but our team uncovers horror stories every single day.
Thankfully, our movement is built on love, optimism, an unflinching courage in the face of injustice.
And in 2021, we have a winning plan.
Going Further, Faster than Any Other Time in History
From the prison warehouses of Marshall BioResources to a university laboratory near you, we’re ramping up our efforts to uncover the abuse of animals used in experiments. Our research and legal teams will continue to get powerful evidence that will resonate with the media, lawmakers, and animal lovers like you everywhere.
When more people see the truth—the indefensible torture of helpless animals funded by our tax dollars—our outrage will turn to action.
This isn’t a fight we can win alone. With your support, we’re building strong leaders to mobilize a robust network of grassroots activists with the heart, creativity, and energy to power this movement. By turning animal lovers like you into animal protectors, we’re gearing up for an exciting year of people-powered action.
First up, we’re bringing together compassionate people across the country to plan the next stage of our campaigns, including our work to shut down Marshall BioResources. We know some of the best ideas come from our grassroots volunteer supporters!
Too many animals used in experiments are needlessly killed when the tests are done. Thanks to you—we’re on our way to changing this.
In 2020, Rise for Animals started the first real dialogue at the federal level for how to avoid unnecessary euthanasia of dogs, cats, primates, rabbits, and all other animals used in experiments that could live peacefully in adopted homes or sanctuaries instead.
This year, we’re expanding our efforts to pass this Humane Retirement Act. And we’re continuing our broader, long-term push to ask each federal agency to “count, disclose, and reduce” the number of animals they use annually in medical experiments. We’re thrilled to have key legislative partners, like Representative Kathleen Rice [D-NY-4] and Representative Ted Lieu [D-CA-33], with us on these fights.
Rise for Animals is proud to be part of the rapid expansion of innovations that will replace animal testing. The science and technology based on human biology—not animal biology—have advanced so rapidly over the last years, I believe we are on the cusp of something revolutionary.
In 2020, our work paid off when we helped launch the Center for Contemporary Sciences. Led by President and CEO Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., this remarkable new organization is advancing scientific discovery by connecting innovative researchers and funders, as well as stakeholders in the government and at universities.
“As a neurologist, I have worked for more than twenty years, largely within governmental health agencies, trying to replace animal testing. Despite the repeated failures in animal testing and its limitations in improving human health, most scientists continued to hold onto the status quo. But change is coming. It is increasingly acknowledged within the scientific community that animal testing is holding back medical progress. Thanks to innovative methods, like organs-on-a-chip technology, there is now hope for the first time that animal testing will be a thing of the past. These new technologies are not only kinder to animals, but also to us. These new techniques—and many more to come—are superior because they are based on human biology and offer the promise of real breakthroughs in medicine.”
—Dr. Aysha Akhtar of the Center for Contemporary Sciences
In 2021, with you by our side, we will continue to support the work of the Center for Contemporary Sciences to make sure they are able to speed the adoption of alternatives to animal experimentation as quickly as possible.
While supporters like you make it possible for us to challenge rigid and corrupt systems that take years of hard work to transform, you also help fuel our emergency rescue efforts. When we have an opportunity to free an animal from torture, we’ll take it.
And while our rescue missions won’t change the world for all animals, for a dog like Flakita, it means a chance at life.
Together, we will win
Against all odds, we are emerging from 2020 knowing change is possible.
This unique year—with its pandemic, social injustices, and presidential election politics—may feel like it has frayed the very fabric of our society. But maybe we can view our 2020 experiences through a lens of opportunity.
I believe people are desperate to feel a sense of community, demonstrate love, and create positive change in the world. I’ve never been more confident in the power of people to take on huge special interests and fight in solidarity for those whose rights have been ignored.
We will end animal experimentation—with the love and optimism of supporters like you.
We are Rise for Animals.
So go ahead, security guards, film us making history.
Are you feeling emboldened to join our mission? Take one step right now to help animals. Urge Petco to stop supporting Marshall BioResources, notorious dog factory farm.