Oppose shocking eye experiments on dogs at U Missouri

September 27, 2016

How many times have we heard that animals are only used in experiments for life-saving treatments when there are no other choices? Statement likes this are the mantra of research institutions. But they are little more than empty words, designed to silence meaningful opposition.

CAARE was disturbed to encounter a perfectly glaring example in experiments made public by the Beagle Freedom Project. Researchers at the University of Missouri at Columbia (UMC) wounded the eyes of six young beagles, claiming they were studying whether a topical compound would promote corneal healing. After examining the dogs’ healing over a period of weeks, they killed them to study their eye tissues.


These experiments are an outrage. The research team had many choices besides conducting an invasive, painful, permanently disabling, and ultimately lethal experiment on young healthy dogs.

Please send a polite letter to the Vice Chancellor for research at UMC asking that these experiments be ended.

CAARE also discovered a subsequent experiment at UMC that inflicted corneal burns to the eyes of seven young female beagles.

Photo credit: U of Missouri Colulmbia

The details of the research are heartbreaking. One dog was chosen to serve as the “sentinel dog.” First her right eye was burned with a caustic chemical for 15 seconds. Thankfully this was done under anesthesia, as were all the eye injuries. After she recovered from that ordeal, they put the chemical into her left eye for 30 seconds. A few weeks later she was killed. The experimenters then applied the chemical to the right eyes of the other six dogs for 20 seconds. Two weeks later, they were all killed.

CAARE has sent a detailed letter to UMC describing the many ways this kind of research could have – and should have – been conducted without harming and killing dogs, or any animals.

They could have conducted a clinical study, and examined dogs with naturally occurring corneal abrasions. Clinical research has formed the foundation of current diagnosis and treatment of corneal disease in humans. We don’t kill people in clinical studies, and we shouldn’t be killing animals for them either.


Diagnostic and analytical tools like in vivo confocal microscopy, optical coherence tomography and ultrasound pachymetry are all non-invasive methods they could have used to perform microscopic analysis on living eye tissue, without killing the dogs

They could have examined human corneal organ cultures, which can be obtained from the National Disease Research Interchange, a non-profit tissue bank of ethically obtained human tissue from consenting donors.


Photo credit: Institute for In Vitro Sciences

Or they could have used a pre-fabricated model, made of reconstructed human cornea-like cells, available through the Institute for In Vitro Sciences.

These dogs did not have to suffer and they certainly did not have to die. They were just puppies – purposely bred for research so that they never knew the comfort of a loving home. Their story is a tragedy that should never have happened.

Please click here to send your letter to UMC today. CAARE is concerned that the eye burn experiments are continuing because the researchers termed it a “pilot project.” That’s why it’s so important to contact the university immediately to demand that these experiments stop.

Thank you for taking action for animals!

Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research (CAARE), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization,  established to highlight and promote research without animals.


Your donation will help CAARE carry out our mission to speak up for animals in laboratories, and to reduce animal suffering by disseminating information about the power and progress of research without animals.