Michigan has responsibility to provide oversight of animal experiments, AG Nessel says

Inhumane animals labs could now be held accountable

click to enlarge One of four billboards displayed in Detroit as part of a campaign calling on Wayne State University to end experiments on dogs. - STEVE NEAVLING
Steve Neavling
One of four billboards displayed in Detroit as part of a campaign calling on Wayne State University to end experiments on dogs.

In a long-sought victory for animal rights advocates, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel called on the state this week to provide oversight of labs that do experiments on animals.

In her formal opinion, Nessel said the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has the responsibility to “register entities that keep or use animals for experimental purposes and must restrict registration to only those entities that conduct animal research in a humane manner.”

Nessel also indicated that the DHHS has the authority to inspect laboratories “to determine whether those standards have been met.”

The opinion was sought by Rep. Matt Koleszar, D-Plymouth, who explained that “the federal government’s weak oversight of animal experiments demonstrates the need for greater effort by our state.” Koleszar referred to long-criticized experiments at Wayne State University in which dogs are forced to undergo painful and invasive surgeries intended to cause heart failure.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit that encourages higher standards for ethics in research, applauded Nessel’s opinion.

“Increased oversight is desperately needed,” Ryan Merkley, director of research advocacy for the committee, said in a statement Tuesday. “DHHS should develop strong rules that prohibit the kind of cruel, scientifically useless dog experiments conducted at Wayne State. This would benefit animals and the people of Michigan, who need human-relevant research.”

Lawmakers amended Michigan’s Public Health Code in 1979 to create an animal research advisory board to “regulate and establish standards … controlling the humane use of animals in research and testing.” But the board was never established, leaving little to no oversight of animal experiments.

Nessel pointed to the amended code in rendering her opinion.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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