Your article of Aug. 20 "Animal Research Gets a New Friend--the Incurably Ill" on Mr. Simpson's new pressure group for animal "experimentation" relates the suggestion that this group may be "a front for biomedical researchers" and reports that he denies the charge. He claims instead that he wishes to promote cures for diseases in humans and other animals. There is an easy way to test his sincerity.
Next month the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will decide whether to cancel their pound seizure contract, by which lost pets are now taken from county animal shelters and given to UC San Diego for lab exercises. These unfortunate pets play no significant role in furthering medical progress. Their genetic, medical and environmental histories are unknown, rendering them useless for statistical purposes.
In fact, the National Institutes of Health do not use pound seizure victims in their work for this very reason. Only seven of California's 58 counties bother to practice pound seizure. Less than one half of 1% of the animals used at UC San Diego comes from pounds.
But though pound seizure victims are unimportant to medical progress, they themselves suffer badly--because of the stress and poor supervision in their circumstances, as many as 30% can die before being used in "research." Even were those animals to die anyway in an animal shelter, at least there it would be in less fear, disease and pain.
If, then, Mr. Simpson and his pressure group legitimately deny that they are a front for biomedical researchers, they will urge that San Diego County cancel its pound seizure contract with UC San Diego, and they will oppose pound seizure in principle. If, on the other hand, Mr. Simpson et al. hope that hysteria can help animal abuse overcome the forces of reason and decency, they will support pound seizure and, in so doing, expose their own fraudulence.
LAWRENCE R. CARLETON