Arizona State University Calls PETA Complaints a Publicity Stunt

Since our earlier post about a presentation the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans on hosting at ASU -- the group plans to discuss the inhumane ways the university is killing animals in its classrooms -- ASU representatives got back to us to disavow the event as a publicity stunt.

In fact, the university thinks just about everything PETA does is a publicity stunt.

Something about a human dressed in a bunny suit holding posters saying, "I'm scared of needles, too" -- as PETA plans to have greeting people attending the presentation -- makes us think ASU might be right.

In a 10-minute conversation with ASU spokeswoman Terri Shafer, the words "publicity stunt" were used roughly 15 times as she chalked up PETA's complaints to little more than a ruse to raise money for the organization.

We asked her why university Provost Elizabeth Capaldi ignored a petition signed by 1,500 students and an invitation to speak at the presentation. She says Capaldi "has no obligation to go to a publicity stunt."

We think PETA's as crazy as the next guy -- they once told us that lobsters get embarrassed, for heaven's sake -- but when 1,500 students come to the administration with a problem, it probably warrants some response.

As for the allegations that experiments conducted at ASU are inhumane, Shafer sent us a list debunking PETA's claims.

Below is how the university explains the experiments.

*       In the experiment noting the use of rabbits, the animals are under deep anesthesia and are euthanized before they wake up. Small incisions are made in their necks (not holes in their chests) to deliver and monitor drugs, as well as monitor heart rate, respiration and blood pressure. Students in this course are typically pre-med students who are learning how to better understand how the body responds to medication. They are learning how to administer and monitor anesthesia, how drugs are administered, and how to observe and monitor physiological responses. These are critical educational components.

*       In the experiment noting the use of frogs, the frogs are euthanized by immersing them in an anesthetic solution. Pithing  (a pin stick to the brain) is then performed to ensure that the frog is dead. This method of euthanasia for amphibians (frogs) is an approved method of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and destroys the central nervous system. The animal feels no pain or distress.

*       In the experiments noting the use of mice and rats, the animals are euthanized by the instructors according to approved AVMA methods and tissues are harvested to teach students how smooth muscles respond to different hormones.

Shafer also says the experiments are only performed by pre-med students, and not in undergraduate anatomy and physiology classes, as PETA claims.

It still sounds pretty gory, if you ask us, but Shafer says the ethical questions PETA raises regarding the experiments can be summed up as just a difference of opinion and that the university would "not participate in the group's publicity stunt."

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James King
Contact: James King