Unnecessary invasive surgery conducted on conscious greyhounds.

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A recently published study conducted by researchers at the University of Newcastle have used greyhounds and subjected them to invasive surgery without general anaesthetic or any other forms of sedation. The study is titled ‘Integration of baroreflex and autoregulation control of bronchial blood flow in awake dogs’ and was published in 2011.

The experiment was apparently an attempt to explore the body’s stabilising mechanism for maintainging blood pressure in relation to bronchial circulation in the lungs, however the researchers make no specific comment on the relevance of this research to humans.

The experiment was supported by a Project Grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC), however there are a few other experiments that have been conducted that were similar to this one, thus making the necessity of this one very questionable.

What happens in the surgery

In this study, the researchers used 12 greyhound dogs. They were first surgically implanted with a medical device for measuring blood flow on their right bronchial artery. This was done under general anaesthesia, where incisions were made in their skin to apply the device and catheters.

After this initial experiment the dogs were given antibiotics and a ten day recovery and training period, however there has been no mention of any pain relief being given to the dogs at this point.

After this ten day post-op period, the dogs underwent a second procedure, and this time the experiment involved the deliberate decision to abstain from administering any form of general anaesthetic or sedative. This means that the dogs were fully awake and aware of the surgery being conducted on them. They were only given a local anaesthetic, and in six of the dogs this process was conducted after giving them chemicals to induce dilation of blood vessels to slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure.

In one dog, a catheter was passed through the jugular vein in the neck into the heart, and again the induced change in blood pressure was measured after being raised and lowered through the process of inflation and deflation of an aortic balloon catheter. This invasive part of the study was again conducted using only under local anaesthesia.

The authors of the study state that the absence of anaesthesia was justified as “it was inappropriate to use anaesthetics and sedatives which selectively block or enhance autonomic activity”.

It is also not known whether the dogs were euthanised after completion of the study. For ‘cost efficiency’ they might in fact be used again, but as Australia does not have retirement facilities for these animals, the only other option is to kill them.

Concerns shared by Humane Research Australia

The experimental process and care of the dogs was approved by The Animal Care and Ethics Committee of the University of Newcastle had approved the experimental process and care of these 12 greyhounds, but Humane Research Australia has a number of concerns about this study. They list some of these as:

  1. Why is there no mention of additional pain relief during the recovery period?
  1. How can such invasive surgery as this, including passing catheters through main veins and arteries into the heart, be approved when only local anaesthetic was used?
  1. How can the decision not to use general anaesthesia or sedatives be justified when the experiment involved the inflation and deflation of balloons that were specifically designed to cause a raise in blood pressure, and therefore distress?
  1. Was it really necessary to conduct this experiment given that a number of very similar experiments had been conducted in the past? (It would seem not as the results from this study did not differ from those of previous studies)

Experimentation on animals is unnecessary

The veterinarian Andre Menache [BSc(Hons) BVSc MRCVS] says:

‘T[his].. study is an example of curiosity-driven basic research, which is generally defined thus:

“Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundations of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view”

The question society needs to ask itself is whether these types of research are at all necessary, considering the damage and distress caused to the dogs and any other animals involved in similar research. In fact, there are even discoveries underway that will bring about changes to this type of research where animal experimentation will be entirely replaced with technologies.
(read more: http://news.discovery.com/tech/biotechnology/technology-replace-testing-animals-130729.htm )

John J. Pippin [MD FACC] writes in a report entitled “Curiosity Killed the Dog” (referring to a different case of experimentation on dogs):

“By way of overview, this team’s research involves a single area of physiological expertise and a single animal preparation. It has successfully mined those attributes to carry out largely repetitive and unproductive animal studies, using their own and others’ previous findings to carry on with minor variations upon very few central themes. By doing so, they have published scientific articles for over 16 years, without apparent correlation with, or influence upon, similar areas of human physiology or medicine. This body of work amounts, in my view, to a startling example of the pursuit of disconnected scientific knowledge with no clear human benefits, and to the detriment of dogs.” – John J. Pippin

 

What can we do?

We can help Humane Research Australia in their quest to convince the necessary people to stop funding animal experiments.

Write to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), asking them to stop funding animal experiments with your taxpayer dollars, and to instead fund research that is relevant to human health:

Prof. Warwick Anderson
Chief Executive Officer
NHMRC
GPO Box 1421
Canberra, ACT 2601
Email: nhmrc@nhmrc.gov.au

Lodge a complaint form at https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about/contact-us/complaint-form

You can also write to the Animal Ethics Officer at the University of Newcastle to express your disappointment at their useless and unnecessary research projects experimenting on greyhounds:

Kim Hughes
Animal Ethics Officer
The University of Newcastle
Email: kim.hughes@newcastle.edu.au

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