At Texas A&M University, experimenters led by Joe Kornegay breed golden retrievers to develop different types of muscular dystrophy (MD), including Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which is particularly severe. These diseases ravage their bodies, causing progressive muscle wasting and weakness. Studies with these dogs haven't led to a cure or even a treatment to reverse disease symptoms.
Video footage shows that Kornegay's appallingly thin dogs were caged, sometimes alone, in barren metal cells and struggled to swallow thin gruel—the only food that they could eat, given how easily they could choke. Long ropes of saliva hung from the mouths of dogs whose jaw muscles had weakened. Even balancing was difficult. Dogs with this condition are also at great risk for pneumonia because they can easily inhale liquid into their lungs.
Dogs who didn't have the disease but carried the DMD gene were used for breeding. Deprived of loving homes, they frantically paced the slatted floors and bit the bars of small cages in frustration. They didn't even have the comfort of a blanket.
Kornegay has been at this for more than 30 years. Puppies in his laboratory who are born with DMD are so weak at birth that they require extra nutrition. By 6 weeks of age, their hind limbs have shifted forward, making walking difficult, and some are unable to open their mouths or jaws.
You can help stop this! Please ask the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to stop funding these cruel experiments on dogs.
Dear [decision makers],
I just watched disturbing video footage of dogs who are being used in muscular dystrophy (MD) experiments suffering behind closed doors at Texas A&M University.
It was distressing to see these animals, all part of Dr. Joseph Kornegay's golden retriever MD colony, struggling to walk and even eat. Drool hung from the mouths of dogs whose jaw muscles had weakened. Other dogs were seen struggling to consume the thin gruel that they had subsist on because of their atrophied esophageal muscles and enlarged tongues.
These animals waste away on uncomfortable slatted floors without so much as a single blanket. Non-affected dogs used for breeding frantically pace and bite at the cage bars.
NINDS currently funds a GRMD experiment ongoing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has also funded the National Center for Canine Models of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (NCDMD), which Kornegay directs.
I applaud the goal of NINDS to help find a cure for MD in humans. But funding studies in dogs is a misguided effort that wastes precious time and money. Despite decades of testing, these studies have failed to produce a cure or even an effective intervention for MD in humans.
There are far better ways to help MD patients.
I strongly urge your agency to stop funding MD dog experiments and to refrain from any future funding of the NCDMD. Instead, use your funds effectively: Support promising, modern, non-animal therapies such as transplantation of healthy muscle cells into patients with MD.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
[Your comments here]