Two practitioners of one of this country’s most despicable occupations — even though it’s legal — entered guilty pleas yesterday and admitted they had been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by research facilities for fraudulently obtained dogs.
Floyd and Susan Martin of Shippensburg, Pa., were what’s known as Class B, or “random source,” dog dealers, and between 2005 and 2010 they sold hundreds of dogs to some of the nation’s leading medical institutions, including Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities.
There’s nothing wrong — at least in the legal view — with that, assuming one has a license, which the Martins did.
What the Martins got in trouble for was buying too many dogs from individual sources, and lying about it to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Class B dealers may purchase dogs from unlicensed individuals — often called “bunchers” – who collect dogs from various sources. But, under the law, Class B dealers are not allowed to buy more than 24 dogs a year from any single individual.
According to the indictment, the Martins purchased hundreds of dogs from just two individuals while falsely certifying to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that they had purchased no more than 24 dogs from any single source.
Two co-conspirators mentioned in the indictment — those who supplied the dogs to the Martins – have not been charged.
Class B dealers have traditionally purchased dogs from “bunchers,” who often collect dogs from auctions, shelters, the street, and through responding to “free to good home” pet ads.
According to prosecutors, the bunchers working with the Martins procured dogs from sources in 10 states and sold them to the Martins for $50 to $75 each. The Martins then sold the dogs to hospitals and other research labs for hundreds of dollars in profit per dog, the indictment said.
In federal court in Harrisburg yesterday, the Martins, who operated Chestnut Grove Kennel, entered guilty pleas to reduced charges
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that, under a deal with prosecutors, Floyd Martin pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, for which he will serve a year in prison, while Susan Martin pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy, for which she will be placed on probation.
The sentence, which also requires the Martins to to pay $300,000 in restitution, will not be official until U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III reviews a presentence report before their June 26 sentencing hearing in Harrisburg.
The case provides a glimpse into the shady world of dog-dealing, which first came to light in Pennsylvania in the 1960s after a stolen pet ended up in a research hospital in New York. Pepper, a dalmatian, was taken from her yard in 1965 and ended up being used in a cardiac pacemaker experiment, which killed her.
Her story helped lead to the passage of the federal Animal Welfare Act in 1966, establishing humane standards for animals in laboratory settings and regulating dealers that sold to them.
Despite those regulations, there was still plenty of room for sleazy behavior.
“We’re talking about an abuse-ridden system of acquiring animals for research,” said Nancy Blaney, senior federal policy adviser for the Animal Welfare Institute, a national advocacy group. ” ‘Random source’ is what it sounds like it is. They can get animals from individuals who respond to ‘free to good home’ ads or animals being stolen. We know because they have been traced through micro-chipping.”
Only six licensed random source dealers remain in operation in the country, and half of them are under federal investigation, the Inquirer reported. The National Institutes of Health said in 2011 that it would phase out use of dogs from Class B dealers by 2015.
In the 1990s, tens of thousands of dogs were being supplied to universities and other medical research institutes. By 2010, the number had dipped to 3,100.
About 3 percent of dogs used in biomedical research in the United States come from random-source dealers, with the rest being supplied by breeders who raise dogs for that specific purpose.
(Photos: Top, Chestnut Grove Kennel, by Dan Gleiter / The Patriot-News; bottom, Pepper and the Lakavage family)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, chestnut grove kennel, class b, dalmatian, dealers, dealing, department of agriculture, dog, dogs, experiments, floyd martin, free to good home, laboratory, labs, licensing, medical, pennsylvania, pepper, pets, random source, research, supply, susan martin, universities
These scenes come from a rescue of laboratory beagles a year and a half ago, but they seemed a good way to start off a new year — and a touching reminder to appreciate the simple things we tend to take for granted.
Like grass, and fresh air.
The nine laboratory beagles shown here – like most beagles bred for lives in labs — had never been outside, seen or stepped on grass.
On June 8, 2011, they were rescued by the Beagle Freedom Project from an undisclosed research laboratory, and, with a six-hour drive ahead, allowed to romp in grass for the first time in their lives.
Watching them take those first uncertain steps is pretty moving.
The Beagle Freedom Project was started in December 2010 by Shannon Keith after he learned what beagles — the most popular breed for research because of their trusting personalities — go through in research labs.
Its mission is to rescue and find homes for beagles used in laboratory research.
Research facilities obtain beagles directly from commercial breeders, who raise them for that purpose.
According to the project’s website, university and other research facilities use the beagles for medical, pharmaceutical, household products and cosmetics tests. Some labs attempt to find homes for them when the dogs have finished serving science.
The project works directly with the labs, making arrangements to remove and transport beagles and place them in loving homes. All rescues are done legally with the cooperation of the facility.
Once rescued, laboratory beagles need to learn how to be dogs, and live as pets. Most have never seen children, cats, televisions, sunshine, or grass. They’ve not been house-trained, and are unfamiliar with toys and leashes.
The Beagle Freedom Project warns potential adopters that the dogs may be fearful of people initially, may have phobias from a lifetime in confinement or from being restrained, are likely to have been surgically de-barked by the breeder, and have an ID number tattooed in their ear.
Neither the project, nor those who adopt the dogs, know what specific kind of experiments the dog might have been involved in.
But dogs are quick learners and with time, the project says, “these dogs will learn how to become dogs, and their transformation will be amazing.”
Beagle Freedom Project is a service of Animal Rescue, Media & Education (ARME). Founded in 2004, ARME is a nonprofit advocacy group created to eliminate the suffering of all animals through rescue, public education and outreach.
(Photo and video from the Beagle Freedom Project)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 4th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, beagle freedom project, beagles, breeders, cosmetics, dogs, experiments, laboratory, laboratory beagles, medical, pets, pharmaceuticals, rescue, rescued, research, science, testing
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for violating the Animal Welfare Act after a monkey escaped from a university research laboratory.
Wake Forest Baptist is appealing the findings, the medical center told the Winston-Salem Journal Wednesday.
The citation was for failing to house the monkey safely and securely, but it wasn’t clear what punishment, if any, the medical center faces.
An inspection report noted the latch of the monkey’s cage was “easily manipulated to open.” Staff at the primate center have since installed a chain with a secure latch to the center’s outside corridors to prevent further escapes, the report said.
Under the federal law, failure to correct problems documented by inspectors can result in fines and confiscation of animals.
The 8-pound female macaque — used to breed other monkeys for research purposes — got out of her cage at the Wake Forest Primate Center on June 29. She opened a latch on her cage, then managed to open a chain-link fence and get out of the center, officials said.
She roamed the woods for 11 days before she was captured.
The federal action is the result of a complaint filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
“We had hoped that WFU would honor the monkey’s indomitable spirit by sending her to an accredited sanctuary after she was recaptured, but the university has not given any indication that it is pursuing this compassionate option,” said a PETA spokesman.
(Photo by Crystal Hughes, via Fox 8)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baptist, cage, citation, department of agriculture, escaped, findings, inspection, lab, laboratory, latch, macaque, medical center, monkey, peta, research, usda, wake forest
Humans had been searching more than 10 days for the monkey that escaped from Wake Forest University’s Primate Center, but it was a dog who finally spotted her.
Cassidy Garwood, 14, told WGHP/Fox 8 that her dog, Keeley, saw the monkey Tuesday afternoon in some trees outside their house on Frye Bridge Road.
When the family went to see what Keeley was barking at, they saw the 8-pound, one-foot-tall macaque jumping from tree to tree.
The family called authorities and officials from the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, Lexington Police and Wake Forest soon arrived on the Garwoods’ property, where the monkey was brought down with three tranquilizing darts and returned to the research facility.
Richard Young, who heads the animal resources program for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, told the Winston-Salem Journal that the monkey is doing fine and will be quarantined for six weeks.
After that, he added (in a word choice he probably regrets) she’ll be placed “back with her other cage mates, inmates, back in her family.”
The monkey outsmarted two barriers at the center on June 29 and fled into the woods, prompting a search in which law enforcement, university officials and animal control officers set traps with apples and bananas and even used recordings of a baby monkey in their efforts to capture her.
The 16-year-old macaque is a breeder, producing offspring that are used for medical testing. She came to the primate center in 2008 after being captured in Indonesia.
According to the website for Wake Forest’s Primate Center, staff “use nonhuman primates to study six of the 10 major causes of death in the United States.”
The monkey’s escape led to criticism from some animal welfare groups, including PETA, which filed a formal complaint July 4 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The group urged the agency to investigate Wake Forest for possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including failure to ensure that the primate housing is safe and secure.
Young said that Wake Forest has beefed up security at the primate center.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal rights, animal welfare, animals, barking, captured, cassidy garwood, davidson county, dog, escaped, healthy, keeley, laboratory, loose, macaque, medical tests, monkey, monkeys, peta, pets, primate center, quarantined, research, richard young, trees, veterinarian, wake forest, wake forest university, winston-salem
After eluding authorities for 11 days, the laboratory monkey who escaped from a Wake Forest University research facility has been captured and returned to the school’s Primate Center.
The one-foot tall, 8-pound macaque was caught this afternoon near Frye Bridge Road in Davidson County after being shot with three tranquilizer darts. three shots from on Tuesday afternoon.
Forsyth County Animal Control responded to the neighborhood after a teenaged girl spotted the monkey in a tree in her family’s yard, Fox News reported.
The 16-year-old monkey is kept at the center as a breeder, producing more monkeys that are used for medical testing.
(Photo: By Cassidy Garwood, via Fox News)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: breeder, captured, clemmons, darts, davidson county, escaped, laboratory, macaque, monkey, north carolina, primate center, research, returned, tranquilizer, wake forest, wake forest university
A one-foot-tall laboratory monkey is on the loose in North Carolina after escaping from a Wake Forest University research facility, and there are some concerns about how he’s going to react to tonight’s fireworks.
The 8-pound macaque was last seen Tuesday hiding in some tall trees in a residential area, doing her best to stay away from animal control officials seeking to capture her.
According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the 16-year-old breeding monkey has been at the Wake Forest University Primate Center, on Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Friedburg Campus in Davidson County, since 2008. The primate center is on 38 fenced acres within a 200-acre campus.
She escaped Friday when a housing area was being cleaned. Officials believe the monkey — a crab-eating macaque — went through an open gate, then managed to open asecond gate in a chain link fence.
“She actually hit the latch — hit it just right,” said Richard Young, the director of animal resources and head veterinarian.
Animal control officers got their first call about the escape Monday — from a resident reporting a monkey in her backyard.
Wake Forest officials said they believed the animal hadn’t gone far, and were concentrating their search in and around the primate center.
As of late Tuesday, the officials had set seven traps, using oranges and bananas as bait, but the monkey had not been captured.
PETA says it has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asking the agency to investigate the primate center for possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
“While we’re cheering for this monkey, who has gained independence from her captors just in time for the Fourth of July, Wake Forest’s ineptitude has led this monkey into a foreign environment that will be especially terrifying and dangerous as fireworks explode in the coming days,” PETA said in a statement.
“These intelligent, sensitive animals deserve better than to be confined to cages for decades and forced to breed, only to have their babies taken from them and subjected to painful and deadly experiments.”
Forsyth County Animal Control officer Ricky Beeson said officers hope to trap the monkey, but added tranquilizer guns would be used if necessary — possibly even real guns, if the monkey is posing a public safety risk.
(Photo: A Forsyth County Animal Control officer uses a spotting scope to search the woods in Clemmons for a missing macaque; by Walt Unks / Winston-Salem Journal)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 4th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animals, breeding, clemmons, complaint, davidson county, escaped, fireworks, forsyth county, investigation, lab, laboratory, loose, macaque, monkey, north carolina, peta, pets, primate center, research, search, wake forest university, winston-salem
According to a university spokeswoman, the practice, which usually involves euthanizing the dogs after the surgeries, has existed since the vet school was created.
It will end this summer.
Based on an account in the Kansas City Star, the decision was based partly on “sensitivity,” partly on saving money.
“People perceive that surgeries being done on companion animals are worse than on other animals like swine,” said Mary Jo Banken, university spokeswoman. She also noted that using pigs is cheaper.
Other vet schools in the region, including Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said they do not use live dogs in training that ultimately leads to euthanizing the animals.
The dogs the university has purchased for surgeries were raised “specifically for this purpose,” Banken said. She said 117 dogs were put down after student-performed surgeries last school year.
Banken said the school has been trying to phase out the practice for nearly three years.
The dogs have been used so students can practice spaying, neutering and other surgeries. Third-year students in the school’s surgery and anesthesiology lab class, where the surgeries are done, are not forced to operate on live animals that they know will be killed afterward, Banken said. They have the option of using cadavers instead. But, she said, operating on live animals is “just more realistic.”
This year, the university partnered with the Central Missouri Humane Society to give students practice in spaying and neutering dogs and cats. Operations are done for free at the Humane Society in Columbia.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, central missouri humane society, dogs, euthanasia, halted, health, laboratory, live, medicine, neuter, pets, phased out, pigs, practice, schools, sensitivity, spay, students, surgery, surgical, training, university of missouri, veterinarians, veterinary school
Ahhh, the many noble uses of DNA testing — to free a wrongly convicted prisoner from death row, to nail down a rape conviction, to match a baby daddy to a baby and make him take some financial responsibility.
Then there’s using it to determine ownership of dog poop.
Call it the science of waste, or a waste of science, but increasingly apartment and condo management companies are considering and in some cases signing up for a service that, through DNA testing, matches unscooped dog poop to the offending dog who left it behind.
A recent report in the Pioneer Press says the service arrived in the Twin Cities area two months ago.
Rosedale Estates North, a 180-unit apartment complex in Roseville, is now sending samples of unscooped poop to a laboratory in Tennessee, where it’s compared to DNA that has been supplied by every dog owner in the complex, usually via a swab that has been swiped in the dog’s mouth.
The first offending sample was picked up Tuesday, May 15. Once the dog who dropped it is determined, its owner will face a $100 fine. Second offenses bring another $100 fine. A third offense leads to an order to get rid of the pet.
Jim Simpson, owner of BioPets Vet Lab in Knoxville, said the company started offering the dog-DNA service called PooPrints in 2008. He charges $30 for each DNA sample to be registered and $50 for each stool sample that is tested later.
In some cities, the service is managed through Rent 411, an apartment-finding company. Its owner says there are seven PooPrint customers in Minnesota.
Another townhouse complex considered signing up, according to the Pioneer Press, but dropped the plan when a volunteer offered to pick up poop herself every week.
Sometimes, it seems, we turn to technology when far simpler, cheaper, less intrusive solutions are available. Do we really need forensic poop spies when we could just pick it up?
(Photo: Tenant Daniel Allen cleans up after his 6 1/2-month-old puppy Creed at the Roseville apartment complex. Allen supports the “PooPrints” program and says the complex is cleaner since it started; by John Doman / Pioneer Press)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 24th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apartment, biopets, biopets vet lab, dna, dog poop, dogs, droppings, feces, fines, knoxville, lab, laboratory, management, minnesota, owners, pets, poop, pooprints, property, registry, samples, science, science of waste, stool, technology, tennessee, testing, tracking, twin cities, waste, waste of science
But I just can’t.
Part two of the program, which aired Monday on TLC, followed two potential dog cloning customers and recounted the experiences of a Florida couple who were among the first to get their dog cloned.
All in all, it was, like the first installment, another quasi-documentary that avoided the harsh realities of dog cloning — at least when it comes to all the dogs used in the process of cloning just one.
Instead, reality show style, it reconfirmed how wacky people can get, especially when it comes to their pets, and the lengths they will go to get what they think, or at least let themselves believe, is a live version of their dead dog.
In reality, it’s not, though the show kind of glosses over that, and more, repeatedly referring to cloned dogs as resurrections of the original, and describing their first meetings with their owners as “reunions.”
Given that, the second installment, like the first, was high on melodrama, low on context and served little purpose other than building interest in a service that, while still on the fringes, continues to draw customers.
My opinion — formed in the process of writing a book about the subject — is that pet cloning is almost always best avoided.
It, for starters, is mostly a selfish pursuit. Clients seeking to clone dogs are mostly delusional, at least when it comes to what they expect — the exact same dog, in terms of looks, behavior and personality. Only the first of those can really be achieved, and often only with repeated tries. But beyond that, cloning dogs, at least as practiced in South Korea, raises a host of animal welfare concerns, ranging from the intrusive procedures involved, the number of dogs it takes, both to serve as egg donors and surrogates, and the fact that many of the dogs used in the process have been farm dogs, raised in South Korea for their meat.
Amid all the melodrama in “I Cloned My Pet 2,” there was little discussion of any of that. But amid all the silly moments, there were a few telling ones, some of them even believable.
“Yes, it is the same dog,”” Nina Otto insists in the show. “Yes, it is the same personality. Yes, we got more than we ever bargained for, and we were thrilled to death.”
Nina and her husband Edgar, the grandson of a NASCAR co-founder, had their dog Lancelot cloned three years ago as the highest bidders in an online cloning auction sponsored by an American biotech company. Lancelot Encore was born in a Korean laboratory and delivered by the American company, which has since moved away from dog cloning.
While happy with the dog, Edgar Otto came close in an interview on the show to admitting that their belief Lancelot Encore is the same dog may be a delusion: “Maybe we’ve set ourselves up wanting it to be the same dog, and it probably is not the same dog. Just leave us alone in our beliefs; we’ll be happier.”
The Ottos in 2009 bid $155,000 for the cloning — one of five winning bids in the auction – leading to the dog’s creation at South Korea’s Sooam Institute, the only facility in the world now cloning dogs.
Our favorite part of the show came when a Los Angeles woman named Myra, still grieving the death three years ago of her basenji, Kabuki, debated whether or not to proceed with cloning him.
Her boyfriend thinks it’s a bad choice. She wants it more than anything. Seeking guidance, she contacts a medium who gets in touch with the spirit of Kabuki, a dog whose ashes now rest in a decorated cardboard box in Myra’s bedroom.
It was — if you believe in that kind of stuff – the first time a dead dog was asked his opinion on whether he should be cloned. And he said no.
According to the medium, Kabuki advised Myra to, more or less, get on with her life.
The show’s third main character was Dr. George Semel, a Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon, whose Chihuahua was killed by a Rottweiler last year while on a walk.
While struggling to come up with money for the cloning, he eventually works out a payment plan with the Korean lab and receives three copies of his Chihuahua.
Along the way, he holds a “cloning party,” selling his skin cream to raise money, and has a song recorded about cloning his dog. It does not become the viral hit he hoped for:
(Photo: Nina Otto and Lancelot Encore / TLC)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, auction, basenji, beverly hills, chihuahua, clients, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, cloning book, cloning song, copies, customers, dark side, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, duplicates, edgar otto, egg donors, farm dogs, genetic, genetics, george semel, i cloned my pet, installment, john woestendiek, kabuki, laboratory, lancelot encore, meat dogs, myra, nina otto, online, part two, pets, plastic surgeon, resurrection, reunion, second, sooam, south korea, surrogates, television, tlc, video
“I Cloned My Pet” lives again.
And, no — unlike the dogs the show is about – it’s not a repeat.
It was back in January that TLC aired a special broadcast about people who have gotten their dogs cloned — a “documentary” that amounted to little more than an advertisement for the dog cloning industry.
Now the production company that made it has put together a second installment, featuring three new pet owners seeking to resurrect dogs that have died, and TLC will air it tonight at 10 p.m.
If it’s anything like the first, expect another soap opera/infomercial hybrid, with three more highly passionate dog owners, some possibly bordering on bonkers, willing to go to whatever lengths are necessary to bring back a cloned version of their departed dog.
And expect virtually no discussion of any of the disturbing ethical and animal welfare issues surrounding the process.
(You can find those, and the real story behind dog cloning, in my book, “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry.”)
The first installment of “I Cloned My Pet” focused on three customers of dog cloning — a service that began being marketed before dog cloning was even achieved (in 2005) and, for a while, was being marketed by three different companies. It’s now provided by only one laboratory in South Korea.
In the first show, viewers saw Danielle Tarantola receive a clone of her beloved dog Trouble; Peter Austin Onruang finally got a clone of his dog Wolfie; and Sheryl Carpenter of Albuquerque got to meet the clone of her mastiff mix, Blue Frankenstein, even though she was serving a 10-year prison term for gun running by the time the dog arrived.
In tonight’s episode, we meet George Semel, a Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon seeking a clone of his rescued Chihuahua, killed last year when attacked by a Rottweiler; another Los Angeles resident, identified only as Myra, who’s still struggling with the loss of her dog Kabuki and wrapped up in other emotional turmoil as well; and Edgar and Nina Otto from Boca Raton, who won an online cloning auction with their bid of $155,000 and got a copy of their golden retriever, Lancelot.
If it’s like the first one, the new show will put a premium on creating drama while conveniently overlooking cloning’s dark side. Things like:
- The number of dogs used in the cloning process — both as egg donors and surrogate mothers, all of which are sliced open in the process.
- That those dogs — both in the research stages and in commercial cloning — often come from South Korean dog farms, where they are being raised for meat. The dogs responsible for making a clone of your dog possible could end up on dinner plates.
- What happens to the surplus clones that are often produced, because the process doesn’t work everytime and is done repeatedly to ensure a healthy lookalike.
Expect it to perpetuate the myth most customers seem to believe — that a clone of their deceased dog is the same dog, resurrected. While clones are genetic copies, that doesn’t assure they will have the same personality or behave as the original did.
We’re hoping the second installment of “I Cloned My Pet” doesn’t behave as the original did, but that’s doubtful, because the makers of bad television are a lot like cloners — they like to stick with the formula, churning out the same thing over and over again.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, blue frankenstein, book, clients, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, commercial cloning, concerns, copying, customers, danielle tarantola, dark side, death, documentary, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, edgar otto, eternal, eternity, ethics, genetics, george semel, issues, john woestendiek, laboratory, lancelot, life, media, myra, nina otto, peter onruang, pets, science, sheryl carpenter, south korea, television, tlc, trouble, wolfie