By Ingrid Newkirk
My dog ‘Ms. Bea’ was a rescued shepherd, a grand, imposing canine
presence. She hated joggers (they made her feel fat) and children (too noisy)
and loved coming to work with me every day when I ran a large animal shelter
in Washington, DC.
Ms. Bea had several important jobs at the pound. One of them was to rise
from her bed at the front desk and greet frightened dogs who were being cast
off by their owners. When they saw her moving toward them with such self
assurance, obviously well fed, totally at home and happy as a clam, they
stopped shaking and began wagging their tails.
She worked long hours and loved every minute. She ate what we ate-Indian
take-out was her favorite-and she rode the truck into the ‘best’ and the most
troubled neighborhoods, looking out the window at them all. I loved her very
Ms. Bea was 17-years-old when she died. I still think of her often, a
dignified old girl who knew she looked silly when she carried her green
plastic frog in her mouth, a dear friend and loving companion. When people
ask me how anyone can justify breaking into laboratories and ‘stealing’ the
animals, all I know is that, if anyone had Ms. Bea on the dissection table,
I’d be through that door in a minute, lock me up if you will.
This wonderful companion is my litmus test of whether it is right to do
things to animals. Ms. Bea was not a thing. She had gender, individuality,
life and love and understanding inside her. No one could ever convince me
that it would have been all right to burn her or sink electrodes into her
head and shock her-not to save me, my child or my other dog, if that were the
case, and I believe it is never the case. It wouldn’t have been right.
All the animals are Ms. Bea, in their own way, aren’t they? Even the
smallest of them, the ugliest or weirdest of them. I remember thinking
exactly that when I toured a large government laboratory. Entering a barren
room in a seemingly endless corridor of barren white-washed rooms, I found a
baboon. I actually heard from him first because he was banging his head so
loudly against the cold steel sides of his cage.
In this totally sterile, dull, windowless environment, he was so alive and
so gaudy, almost surreal: a huge hydramus baboon, the size of a small man. He
had a long dog snout that looked as if he had painted it with crazy red and
pink and white and grey stripes. His long multi-colored hair stood out from
his body like a big colorful cloak.
How must he have felt when aliens snatched him from his jungle and
transported him to this cold lonely world to die in a steel cage? Most
primates avoid making eye contact, yet this baboon stared straight at me. His
eyes were filled not with despair, as one might expect, but with deep
I made inquiries and found that the baboon and several others had been
part of a cancer study that had been casually abandoned when the investigator
moved away. The baboons had been forgotten, and had I not asked embarrassing
question, would have been hosed down in their cages and fed monkey biscuits
until they died. Eventually the government told me that they had no further
use for the animals and had killed them.
I continued to visit the laboratory because I believed that the
experimenters had the potential to have a change of heart and find another
way to make a living.
Dr. Roger Ulrich did. For years, he had experimented on animals and
received many professional awards and honors for his hideously cruel
experiments, using monkeys and rats to study the relationship between pain
and aggression. In one experiment, he used electric shocks intense enough to
One day, Dr. Ulrich wrote this to the American Psychological Association:
“When I was asked why I conducted these experiments, I used to say it was
because I wanted to help society solve its problems of mental illness, crime,
retardation, drug abuse, child abuse, unemployment, marital unhappiness,
alcoholism, over-smoking, overeating, and even war! Although, after I got into
this line of work, I discovered that the results of the work did not seem to
justify its continuance. I began to wonder if perhaps financial rewards,
professional prestige, the opportunity to travel, etc., were the maintaining
factors and if we of the scientific community, supported by our bureaucratic
and legislative systems, were actually part of the whole problem.
“One spring I was asked by a colleague, ‘Dr. Ulrich, what is the most
innovative thing that you’ve done professionally over the past year?’ I
replied, ‘Dear Dave, I’ve finally stopped torturing animals.'”
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