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Letter to the editor: Stop animal research at OU

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OU's Health Sciences Center campus is pictured above. The U.S. Department of Agriculture cited OU for improperly caring for test animals on the Health Sciences Center campus. 

Dear President Boren,

When a violent crime is committed, it affects the whole community. By now, many people in Oklahoma and beyond have heard about the cruel and illegal treatment of the animals at OU’s Research Facilities. Making national headlines, OU has been cited for inhumane treatment of baby baboons as well as torturing dogs in research labs. Many might not know that the scope of this issue is huge and that OU has thousands of animals in its charge.

As a member of Norman’s Animal Shelter Oversight Committee, I have a vested interest in the humane and ethical treatment of all of Oklahoma’s animals. OU is my university. I studied here. I walk its campus every week with my dog. We donate to the University. OU has traditions and a legacy to uphold. Without changing course, OU cannot separate itself from a new legacy that is building. One of cruelty, abuse, and continued indifference.

In your welcoming letter, President Boren, you point out that, “the Research Campus support(s) a true community of ideas that reflects the core mission and values of the University”. If so, what kind of values does this betray about OU to the state and nation? How can we continue to attract more National Merit Scholars than any other university with this dark cloud hanging over us? How can we be great with a legacy of violence?

Animals are not laboratory tools. They are sentient beings, capable of experiencing pain, fear, loneliness, frustration and sadness. To deliberately inflict suffering in the name of science is unacceptable. Not only is animal research harmful to animals, it is also potentially harmful to people. Different species react very differently to drugs and procedures. Modern, non-animal methods allow us to obtain data that is more accurate and relevant to human health, and therefore more likely to lead to effective treatments.

For these reasons I support the immediate cessation and permanent end of animal testing at OU. I advocate for the relocation of its animals into rescues and sanctuaries. We have amazing resources in this state including Mindy’s Memory Primate Sanctuary, and numerous rescue groups. If you need help finding homes and safe places for every single animal big or small, this community will find them. I will help.

In a news story celebrating your 20th year as President of OU, you quoted this advice: “go invest your life where you can do the most good, invest in the next generation of the place that you love.” When you came "home to make a difference” I hope that you might consider that this is just the kind of lasting difference that you can make. A legacy of freedom over torture. A legacy of quality education and humane research. A legacy that will be a beacon of light to the people and animals of this state and beyond.

Twenty years is a long time. Imagine the lasting influence that your Presidency could have if you choose the most moral decision, the most good, now.

Sincerely yours,

Rebecca Bean

Norman, OK

(405) 496-3111

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