Sunday, June 4, 2017

Protecting the Vulnerable: Lab Animals and ITR Laboratories

I'm not a vegetarian nor do I think I could ever be one (I love the taste of meat). However, I definitely see why some people would be swayed to take that route. ITR Laboratories Canada in Baie D'Urfe, Quebec has been conducting medical and cosmetic animal testing on animals such as dogs, mini pigs, monkeys, and smaller animals like mice, rats, and rabbits for years. Unethical testing that is. An undercover video shot by Stephanie* (not her real name), a former ITR Laboratories technician over a four-month period documented the horrific abuse of the lab animals and under high high levels of distress. She had been doing so for Last Chance for Animals - an animal rights group based in LA that believed Canadian labs were overdue for scrutiny. Stephanie said that derma testing on pigs was especially difficult for her because they are very sensitive creatures and respond quickly. "You learned very quickly to avoid eye contact because that's what got me," she told Kevin Newman of W5 during the "In the Name of Science" special ( Part of Stephanie's footage showed a technician striking beagles 16 times because they weren't looking forward to ingesting chemicals. He also pulled their ears 10 times. "Dogs (were) howling, crying all day long," she said. "Up and down the halls you'd go, and that's all you would hear is the dogs crying and howling." ( Truck driver Leszek is one concerned Montrealer who has attended many of the ongoing protests each Friday outside ITR. "Test it on murderers or pedophiles. You'll have the right results," the proud vegetarian told me on Friday in an off-the-cuff interview. "IF you test it on animals, 90 per cent of the tests fail. Even if 10 per cent works on animals, it is not good on humans because we are different. That is why people get cancer..." He said that ITR has been conducting cosmetic testing for one Japanese company for years. A 2013 survey by the Canadian Council of Animal Care, however, found that 60 per cent of Canadians felt it was "somewhat acceptable for animals to potentially suffer for safety testing of medicine" ( While a diverse group of people who were shown Stephanie's footage before the general public were sickened by it, one woman said that she thought the only thing testing should be done on is something like finding a cancer cure "if the animals are treated well." Many others in the group voiced their agreement saying that cosmetic and household product testing was uncalled for. The initial reaction of one woman who loved dogs said she wanted "to kill" the technicians. Her male counterpart said, "They deserve to go through the same or worse." Michael Brunt, a research animal technician at the Central Animal Facility and a professor at the University of Guelph, told W5 that he strongly advocates for lab animals to be treated with compassion but said, "The ethical use of animals in medical testing is morally justified" ( "I’m passionate about a lot! I am passionate about animals that I have the privilege to care for with compassion and respect. I am passionate about the science that continually makes strides towards new therapeutic advancements. I am passionate about alleviating the suffering of our fellow animals and people who agonize with debilitating and painful diseases. I (chose) this profession in research because it is my passion" ( The majority of work done at the facility "is basic or fundamental science in a wide variety of areas including oncology, neuroscience, animal behaviour and welfare, molecular biology, physiology, immunology, among others," he said ( He added: "Various non-animal research methods are used together with animal studies to reduce the number of animals needed. These methods include antibodies, stem cells, tissue cultures (all in-directly use animals) and computer models. Non-animal methods account for the majority of biomedical research. Nevertheless, there are important research questions that still require animals. For example, in drug development, a large initial group of chemical candidates may be screened using non-animal methods, and only the most promising ones are taken through animal testing and human clinical trials. Before animal studies can go forward, investigators must detail how they have considered non-animal methods, and why they are not appropriate for answering their research question" ( Unfortunately, laboratories like ITR operate differently as video documentation shows. Its claim that “ITR operates in compliance with industry standards and federal, and provincial guidelines for animal care in a laboratory testing environment,” the company wrote in a statement to W5. “We take our responsibility to treat the animals in our care with the utmost respect very seriously" ( is utter BS! According to Kwiathowski: "The more people who know (about this), the more we can make moral progress in Canada."