An animal rights group is trying to force a college run by the State University of New York to divulge information about its experiments on live cats.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund announced Thursday that it had filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court against the SUNY College of Optometry in Manhattan demanding that it release records about its “invasive and painful” experiments on live cats.
“The public has a legal right to know about the cruel and unnecessary experiments being performed on cats and kittens by SUNY College of Optometry,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells.
According to the group, SUNY Optometry has been conducting federally funded experiments on the brains of live cats and kittens since 2002 and the research has not produced any useful information on human vision disorders.
The cats, between the ages of four and 12 months, are anesthetized and have their heads mounted in frames so that contact lenses can be forced into their eyes, the lsuit says. Their skulls are then removed and electrodes are inserted into their brains.
“These procedures take hours and sometimes days to complete,” the lawsuit stated.
The ALDF, which bills itself as the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research & Experimentation, which in December filed a request under the Freedom of Information Law seeking documents from the school about the experiments.
SUNY officials denied the request, claiming among other things that release of the information would endanger the safety of school personnel and could divulge trade secrets.
“SUNY College of Optometry’s tight-fisted secrecy over the details of these cruel cat experiments does nothing to reassure the public that cats are not made to suffer in horribly invasive and useless experiments,” said CAARE President Barbara Stagno.
SUNY officials did not immediately comment on the lawsuit.
State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), who sponsored several bills dealing with animal rights and cruelty, urged SUNY officials to release the documents.
“Scientific and medical research on animals is a dirty secret, but taxpayers have every right to know what their tax dollars are supporting,” Rosenthal said. “Release of this information can be done in such a way so as to protect the identity of researchers and research while also providing the public, many of whom are devoted to animal welfare, with information about how their tax dollars are being spent.”