Activists Upset Over Animal Cruelty In UCSF Study

Hundreds Of Dogs Will Be Killed

May 25 (ABC7) � Animal rights activists are calling on doctors at UCSF to stop medical research that will result in the deaths of hundreds of dogs. They held a protest there this morning to draw attention to the experiments. ABC7's Mark Matthews reports from UCSF where two different studies of heart problems are now underway.

They are studying what happens when a heart valve is ruptured or an irregular heart beat creates damage. They are implanting pacemakers into dogs to induce rapid heart beats and heart failure. That has upset some people.

The demonstration was held by In Defense of Animals, an organization founded by Elliot Katz.

Elliot Katz, In Defense of Animals: "It's a vicious kind of cruelty, creating artificial heart attacks in dogs."

Katz says he wants dog lovers to know 400 canines will die in these government funded studies.

Elliot Katz: "I would ask the people who are viewers to look into the eyes of the dogs that they have in their homes and would they want that dog in a laboratory given artificial heart attacks and suffer so terribly."

The demonstrators point to a report from Harvard Medical School cardiologist John Pippin, calling the UCSF studies "contrived and futile" and saying "there is no new knowledge to be gained from these types of studies."

Ara Tahmassian, UCSF associate vice chancellor: "We disagree with that statement. These are highly critical and important scientific experiments."

UCSF's associate vice chancellor says the work has been reviewed by scientists with the National Institute of Health and dogs make good subjects for experiments on heart beat irregularities.

Ara Tahmassian: "This is not a personal opinion. It's a body of scientific evidence internationally."

The doctor conducting the two studies, Dr. Jeff Olgin, writes that the experiments will produce "adverse effects" including "abdominal bloating from heart failure, pulmonary edema and coughing."

The hospital administrator told us every effort will be made to ease the dogs' suffering but he wouldn't allow us to see how they have been treated.

Ara Tahmassian: "When they're undergoing studies they are kept away from stress and possible impact of visits by outsiders."

So even though we weren't allowed in, there is government oversight we are told by the medical center. Two government agencies, the Food & Drug Administration and the National Institute of Health, hold surprise inspections here twice a year.