More than two weeks after a Humane Society investigation revealed testing of dental implants on dogs at Georgia Regents University, those against the practice show no sign of letting up. They're organizing a march to the school.
"This is an event to raise awareness, and to ask Georgia Regents University to stop the cruelty," said Amanda Harrell.
She said she's taking part in what's being called the Million Dog Walk: a peaceful march from Downtown Augusta, to the doors of GRU's dental school.
"Whatever your view may be, you are welcome to come out and protest with us tomorrow," she added.
The event is also getting some star power from the Humane Society. One of the organization's vice presidents is flying in to support the protest.
"We're very happy to lend our support," Kathleen Conlee said in a phone interview. "We watched the organization of this event unfold. The message has been right. We're just asking the university to end the use of dogs in these dental experiments."
The university has responded to the planned protest with a statement to students and faculty:
In select Georgia newspapers this weekend, you will see editorials from researchers at GRU concerning the care and use of animals in medical research on our campus. The items answer questions raised by the Humane Society of the United States last month.
We are committed to answering your questions as well. Your support is a valuable part of educating the public about the role of animals at a research university like GRU. To that end, please take note of these facts:
- HSUS's suggestion that this research is strictly cosmetic, silly, or frivolous could not be further from the truth. GRU researchers were testing an antimicrobial coating that could help prevent dangerous infections in the gums and bones of the mouth. Infections caused by failed implants are a focus of research in recent years due to the ability of the bacteria to get into the bloodstream and infect heart valves and other organs.
- GRU's protocols and animal-use facilities are regularly reviewed and inspected by the USDA, and the USDA has found no incidents of non-compliance. Dogs are used infrequently in research conducted at the university. In this and every study at GRU, they are only obtained from vendors licensed and inspected by the USDA.
- The suggestion that the research was conducted without proper approval is false. The protocols were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Any animal research at GRU without IACUC approval would be a violation of GRU policy and federal law.
- GRU is committed to research that will improve patient lives. Countless medical breakthroughs – from antibiotics to blood transfusions to vaccinations and chemotherapy – were developed with the help of laboratory animals. We do everything possible to reduce the number of animals used in research and are committed to replacing animals with other scientific models whenever possible. For the foreseeable future, however, animal research remains a critical component of developing safer dental implants and, ultimately, new cures.
Over the past weeks, we know many of you have received phone calls, emails, or seen posts on social media concerning this topic. The above bullet points and the information distributed last week via email may be helpful to you as you respond. Additionally, you may forward questions and concerns to the Office of Communications and Marketing at (706) 721-7406.
Tomorrow on campus, a group is expected to gather in protest outside the College of Dental Medicine. Please continue to treat everyone who visits our campuses with respect and consideration. Your thoughtful questions, commitment to professionalism, and patience with this process are a testament to the quality of staff, faculty, and students at GRU. Thank you.