Doc rapped for dog use in sales demo
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2007:
CLEVELAND–The Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute,
a national leader in researching brain aneurisms, on January 19,
2007 disclosed that it has barred from research for two years a
neurosurgeon who used a dog in a January 10 sales training
The neurosurgeon was suspended at recommendation of the
Cleveland Clinic’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, wrote
Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Sarah Treffinger. The committee
reported the incident to the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection
Service as a possible Animal Welfare Act violation on January 11.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer and Associated Press disclosed the
use of the dog and the clinic response later the same day.
“The doctor, who was not identified in the letter or in a
subsequent USDA inspection report, got in trouble after causing an
aneurysm in the brain of a large, mixed-breed dog so that a medical
device could be used to treat the condition,” summarized Treffinger.
“The dog was anesthetized for the procedure and afterward was killed.”
A January 24 USDA inspection found that the doctor “utilized
an approved research protocol with no training component to request
the animal be delivered to the lab,” and “diverted the animal to
his use for the training program he was conducting.”
However, because the Cleveland Clinic promptly responded to
the situation, the USDA took no disciplinary action beyond issuing a
warning that the Animal Welfare Act requires all animal use to be
approved by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
“About two-dozen salespeople from the device’s manufacturer
watched the demonstration,” Treffinger wrote, “and at least some
participated in a hands-on exercise.
“The incident took place without permission of the
Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which is supposed to
review any request to work with animals. The doctor had submitted an
application to the committee, but its members never had the
opportunity to review it. They would have rejected it,” a
spokesperson told Treffinger, “because the Cleveland Clinic does not
allow doctors to use animals for the sole purpose of sales training.”
PETA research associate Shalin Gala told the Plain Dealer and
Associated Press that PETA received a tip Wednesday that
representatives from California-based Micrus Endo-vascular
Corporation would be conducting the sales training demonstration to
promote use of a product called MicroCoil, billed as a less invasive
method than surgery for treating brain aneurysms. PETA urged Micrus,
the Cleveland Clinic, and the clinic Institutional Animal Care and
Use Committee to use a non-animal demonstration technique, Gala said.
“A Micrus official said that he had no knowledge of the
incident,” Treffinger wrote, adding, “‘Are you sure you have the
right company?'” The neurosurgeon reportedly was not paid by Micrus.
Treffinger was assisted in bringing the case to light by
fellow Plain Dealer reporters Michael Sangiacomo and Harlan Spector.
The Cleveland Clinic incident played out in contrast to a
protracted conflict between Friends of Animals and the U.S. Surgical
Corporation, 1984-1998, over use of live dogs in demonstrations of
surgical staples. Many other animal rights groups joined FoA in
rallies outside the U.S. Surgical headquarters, a few blocks from
the former FoA head office in Norwalk, Connecticut. The group is
now based in nearby Darien.
U.S. Surgical founder Leon Hirsch responded to the protests
by hiring a private security firm to infiltrate FoA. Security firm
personnel in 1988 gave an occasional demonstration participant the
money to buy a bomb and drove her to plant the bomb in the U.S.
Surgical parking lot, where she was immediately arrested. U.S.
Surgical then blamed the alleged bombing on FoA in a media blitz–but
the plot was quickly exposed by news media.
FoA sued U.S. Surgical. The litigation, protests, and dog
use in sales demonstrations all continued until shortly before Hirsch
sold the company in May 1998.
Dog use in U.S. laboratory procedures peaked at 211,104, in
1979, according to USDA records kept since 1974, and have fallen
ever since. The 2005 total was 49,898.
The Cleveland Clinic in 2006 used 360 dogs and 431 other
animals, including rabbits, sheep and pigs, in IACUC-approved