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PETA recently obtained photos of rabbits, llamas, goats, sheep, and cows held in deplorable, ramshackle conditions at ProSci Inc., a company based near San Diego that uses animals to produce antibodies. The animals were deprived of basic care and allowed to suffer with untreated infections and other painful conditions.
We've all heard of antibodies—molecules naturally produced by our immune systems to fight viruses and bacterial infections. But what you might not know is that animals—including rabbits, mice, rats, guinea pigs, goats, sheep, pigs, cows, llamas, and horses—are commonly used to produce antibodies that are widely used in medical research. In one method of producing antibodies, experimenters inject foreign substances into animals' abdomens, causing them to become grossly distended with fluid. This can leave the animals unable to move, eat, or even breathe without difficultly. The fluid is then removed with a needle. Another method involves repeatedly injecting animals with foreign substances and then bleeding them.
At ProSci, federal inspectors have documented more than 39 violations of minimal animal-welfare laws in the past three years. Rabbits are confined to small, rusty, filth-encrusted wire cages without even a board to rest on.
Some squinted to see through the discharge that oozed from their eyes as a result of painful infections.
Others suffered from head tilt, which can be painful and prevent them from eating and drinking.
Another was underweight, depressed, and soiled.
One rabbit was found with an untreated ear mite infestation, and another was so emaciated that she was near death. Several had dried blood on their ears and/or backs, indicating that workers had failed to apply pressure at the sites where they drew blood.
Many had overgrown nails, causing them considerable pain and discomfort, especially on the wire flooring.
Federal documents also reveal that goats had overgrown and cracked hooves, llamas had excessively long hooves, and cows and sheep were not provided with adequate shelter.
There are better ways to produce antibodies. The PETA International Science Consortium has worked extensively to promote these non-animal methods.
As recent customers of ProSci, Harvard Medical School, the University of Pennsylvania, Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Utah, and the University of Cincinnati have helped to bankroll the suffering there. And federal agencies have used taxpayer dollars to purchase antibodies from the company. Currently, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has a contract with ProSci.
We've called for a police investigation into the horrific situation documented by federal authorities. We're also urging the NCI to stop bankrolling cruelty with taxpayer money and switch to buying antibodies that are produced using modern, non-animal methods. Will you add your voice to our efforts?
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