- Moxie Thompson
Beagle Gate: The Ruff Allegations Against Dr. Fauci and his NIAID Division
Dr. Fauci has been back in the public spotlight in recent weeks at the frontline as a key leader in recent news on inhumane animal testing done on beagle puppies. The news, popping up in articles over the past decade, has been brought to light by the White Coat Waste Project, a bipartisan campaign to end tax dollars going toward animal experiments. The story has erupted recently as more news outlets took notice, sparking political debate and controversy over the future of animal testing and the fate of Dr. Fauci.
Photo Courtesy: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
The testing of certain medicines and chemicals on animals is nothing new. Animal testing has been practiced for centuries. According to the National Center for Biomedical Technology, early scientists like Aristotle and Erasistratus used live animals in their experiments to test various theories. However, concern about the morality of animal testing entered the public sphere in the 1800s, and since then, numerous laws have been passed. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA), passed in 1966, sets standards for the humane treatment of animals being tested. According to the Foundation for Biomedical Research, the AWA sets guidelines regarding housing, feeding, and environmental cleanliness of where the animals are kept and sets standards for ventilation and medical needs. Also required is the use of anesthetic drugs for painful procedures or operations. Each institution enabling animal testing must also have an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) responsible for overseeing and approving the morality of the use of animal testing.
According to reports of the testing on beagles, many of these standards are not being instituted. The New York Post and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) cite that Fauci's division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to a lab in Tunisia, where the dogs were infected with a disease-causing parasite to test a new drug on them. In addition, according to White Coat Waste, 44 beagles allegedly had their vocal cords removed during the study so scientists could work without constant barking.
According to The Hill, White Coat Waste said, "Our investigators show that Fauci's NIH division shipped part of a $375,800 grant to a lab in Tunisia to drug beagles and lock their heads in mesh cages filled with hungry sand flies so that the insects could eat them alive...They also locked beagles alone in cages in the desert overnight for nine consecutive nights to use them as bait to attract infectious sand flies." The beagles were then euthanized at the end of the study.
Pictures were released by the White Coat Waste Project of beagles lying down with their heads in mesh cages, being eaten by flies. However, the NIH declared that the images are not from their experiments, says Daily Mail. Several fact-checking outlets have backed the denial.
"The manuscript mistakenly cited support from NIAID, when in fact NIAID did not support this specific research shown in the images of the beagles being circulated," said a spokesperson for NIH.
However, the spokesperson did say that experiments for leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease found in parts of the tropics, were conducted on beagles. The removal of vocal cords was used, a common practice in the scientific field, says the Daily Mail.
Now, over 23 representatives are signing a bipartisan bill calling for an explanation from Dr. Fauci, writing, "the commissioned tests involved injecting and force-feeding the puppies an experimental drug for several weeks, before killing and dissecting them," says the NY Post.
This comes following a 2019 bipartisan law passed against animal abuse. The Preventing Animal and Torture Act (PACT) expanded on a prior law banning the "creation and distribution of 'obscene' videos of animal abuse," says USA Today. However, the legislation did not bar acts of abuse toward animals themselves, but rather it stopped intentional engagement in animal cruelty. The mandate also could not override local laws on animal abuse.
One of the bill creators, says USA Today, Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-FL), said, "This bill sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals... We've received support from so many Americans from across the country and across the political spectrum. Animal rights activists have stood up for living things that do not have a voice."
Now animal rights are at the forefront of a bipartisan agreement once again. The lawmakers touched on the inhumane treatment of the beagles and a total misallocation of taxpayer dollars. Apart from the moral and financial backlash that has come with such experiments, there is also disagreement from a logistical point of view. Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist, author, lawyer, and animal rights activist, argues that there is little reason animal testing should still exist, due to the advanced nature of technology today, and the fact that almost all animals' DNA, dogs included, is too different from humans to allow for any concrete understanding of the effect on humans.
However, many still believe animal testing is necessary for humans' medical and biological advancement, says a 2011 article on animal testing and medicine from the National Institute of Health. Moral issues remain, which is why the NIH came up with the 3Rs program, which advocates animal testing for "1) for the replacement of animals with non-living models; (2) reduction in the use of animals; and (3) refinement of animal use practices."