I’m writing in response to the letter I received from your high school asking for a donation for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. You know, I’m sure, Hannah, that I like to support you and Bradley in all that you do. I am very proud of both of you, even though we are not related. That’s why I want to give you an explanation as to why I cannot contribute to this project.
In 2001, Diana and I joined the animal rights movement. I was conflicted at first, wondering if I was on the wrong side, criticizing animal research. My reservations were soon dispelled when I began investigating the researchers at Ohio State. I infiltrated researcher meetings, both undercover and as a “guest” with other animal rights activists. I recall sitting in a meeting with Ohio State’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, when the chairman tried to tease us activists by saying that an easy way to “sacrifice” a small research animal was just to whack its head on the corner of one’s desk. I once heard a room full of researchers burst into laughter when they saw projected on a screen a picture of a large dead animal, probably a rhinoceros, splayed across as examination table. I learned that the researchers’ first concern seemed to be money and being well-paid, not the advancement of science. I learned that they would engage in worthless research if it was lucrative, such as Ohio State’s infamous “Cats-on-Meth” research, which my group tried to stop. We uncovered an email message from the leader of the animal research department saying that “Cats-on-Meth” must continue — despite being exposed as crude, useless, and cruel — so that it wouldn’t look like the animal rights activists had “won” on this issue. (The cats’ misery finally ended a few years later, when the funding dried up. Nothing of value came from it.) And I learned that the animal research industry is a multi-billion dollar business that protects itself from advancements such as using computer models as alternatives to animal research.
It is not easy to uncover data on the animal research at St. Jude Hospital, but I found records from 2006 and 2009 that show that in those two years, seven pigs and 593 ferrets were subjected to experiments involving unrelieved “pain and distress,” and that they were at no point given anything to relieve their suffering before dying or being “sacrificed.” (Since no records are required for the use of rodents, which are 90% of research animals, we can only guess how many of them were subjected to such treatment.)
One of the hard parts of getting older, Hannah, is learning that many things are not as they seem. St. Jude Research Hospital, with its fine reputation, is one of those disappointments in life.
For 39 years, St. Jude has sponsored the “World’s Largest Coon Hunt Benefit for St. Jude” in Decatur County, Tennessee. In what is billed as family entertainment, dogs that have been trained on live bait gang up on, catch, and viciously rip apart live raccoons. This exercise in cruelty reveals that St. Jude has no compassion for animals, and cannot be expected to have any for the unfortunate research animals they torment to keep the charity funds, i.e., research funds for researcher salaries, pouring in.
Because of animal cruelty associated with St. Jude, I’m sorry that I can’t contribute to Groveport Madison’s charity project this year, Hannah. I know you will understand. Thank you for being such a lovely and caring person.
Your old friend,