Benefit finds homes for research animals

By By Katie Harrington, Staff Writer

By Katie Harrington, Staff Writer

The U’s animal labs are trying to help research animals that PETA activists said they are, at times, cruel toward.

The annual Paws ‘N Claws Benefit was held Thursday at the Eccles Institute of Human Genetics to help raise funds for the U’s Adoption of Retired Research Animals, which helps care for retired research dogs and cats and find them responsible owners.

“This is our one chance every year to not only find homes, but also raise money to be able to do things like get dogs and cats fixed and give them proper medical treatment, as well as work with some of the local animal welfare organizations,” said Linda Schmidt, an organizer of the event and a senior laboratory specialist at the School of Medicine, who found homes for nine out of 10 animals throughout the day.

The animals in the program were taken from shelters with no adoption programs and put into the U’s research facilities. The goal of Schmidt’s program is to give these animals a second chance once they’ve made it through their use at the labs.

“Of all the dogs in the building8212;let’s say there’s 408212;30 of them are going to get homes,” Schmidt said. “So that’s a good percentage, considering that none of them had any future at the shelters where they were.”

The event came the day after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals held a press conference announcing it would file a federal complaint about the alleged animal abuse in the U’s animal labs after an investigation spanning several months found multiple potential violations, officials from PETA said. The U denies their claims.

“What the university is doing is trying to clear a conscience and put a positive media spin on their institution, in order to keep in good standing with the public,” said Alka Chandna, a laboratory oversight specialist for PETA. “The dogs who will hopefully be adopted out are such a small number, and we feel that the university is just betraying animals and the public with events like this.”

However, Schmidt said she and her team are dedicated to upholding the dignity of the retired animals.

“My goal has always been to try to increase the value of the animal,” Schmidt said. “Yes, we got money and found homes, which is great, but our program is about even more than that. It’s about awareness.”

People need to realize that modern society has a problem with animal overpopulation and backyard breeding, and everyone needs to become more responsible, she said.

“If we can help with that awareness, and that responsibility, then we are doing our jobs,” she said. “So, it’s not research we should be investigating, it is society that has the issue, and hopefully PETA will recognize that.”

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Thien Sok/The Daily Utah Chronicle

Sofia Robb and her dog, Maggie, participate in the Paws ?N Claws Benefit held at the Eccles Institute of Human Genetics. The benefit raised funds for the support and placement of retired research animals into adoptive homes.