NY University faces growing criticism after Sandy kills lab mice

Comments (16)
Overcast451 wrote:

WTF? They got the people out – idiots. Why didn’t PETA send help? Isn’t that what they get donations for???

It’s PETA’s fault.

Probably 18 million rats died in the subway that day – WHERE WAS PETA??!?!?!??!???!?

Nov 07, 2012 8:48am EST  --  Report as abuse
pa_guy wrote:

Seriously?

Nov 07, 2012 8:56am EST  --  Report as abuse
checoate09 wrote:

Sorry but those are things that can be replaced. Human lives are more important than “LAB RATS!” Geez…

Nov 07, 2012 10:16am EST  --  Report as abuse
jaham wrote:

This is an excellent case study of when liberal ideals are taken a step too far…

Nov 07, 2012 12:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
spameroo wrote:

As a scientist at an institution that faced very similar circumstances in the past, I’d just like to point out how ridiculously stupid these criticisms by PETA are.
First off, I know a LOT of people who do mouse and rat work, and none of them takes an indifferent or flippant attitude to the well-being of the animals. Yes, PETA, it’s a difficult ethical and moral quandary, and every one of them has had to personally struggle with it. For many, it’s a constant source of emotional trauma for years on end. Contrary to the PETA implication that rodent researchers are a bunch of amoral, inhuman mad scientists, in reality the people who actually make a career of animal work are the ones who never stop weighing and re-weighing the negative consequences for their animals against the positive consequences for humans. If anyone is disrespecting the sacrifices of the animals, it’s the PETA-types themselves, by refusing to consider the alleviation of human suffering that results.

Secondly, the arguments just don’t make logical sense to anyone who bothers to understand how this type of research works. Even if all these scientists WERE unfeeling automata who only saw the mice as disposable tools, they STILL would be strongly motivated to prevent catastrophes like we see at NYU. Every one of those animals represents a HUGE investment of resources and especially time. The villainous PETA cliches who put results above all else would, by definition, be 100% driven to prevent the loss of even a single mouse for that exact reason. An investigator losing all of their lab’s mice is losing literally dozens of man-years of work and probably hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of invested funds.

The only people whose interests are served by the deaths of so many animals are the PETA activists, really.

Nov 07, 2012 12:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
DavidS95 wrote:

Welcome to obamaland

Nov 07, 2012 12:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Yowser wrote:

What a tragedy! I feel sorrier for the animals than for the researchers’ losses. Next time, in advance of the forecasted arrival of any hurricane, all lab animals living in basements must be evacuated. Rising water is always the greatest mass threat from these storms.

Nov 07, 2012 1:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
portdawg79 wrote:

They are rodents, good grief. Why didn’t PETA try to help evacuate the mice, and all of the subway rats too?! Weren’t there human casualties of the disaster as well? Humans are irreplaceable. Mice are available in pet stores as snake food, where’s PETA on that one?

Nov 07, 2012 2:05pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Harry079 wrote:

Three blind mice, three blind mice, see how they run, see how they run…

Nov 07, 2012 2:27pm EST  --  Report as abuse
wilhelm wrote:

“Even if all these scientists WERE unfeeling automata who only saw the mice as disposable tools, they STILL would be strongly motivated to prevent catastrophes like we see at NYU. ”

as long as they could get a grad student to do the grunt work, apparently, while Doc drives home to his house in the burbs…

give me a break. PETA may anthropomorphize the lab mice, but to most bio-researchers, the mice ARE disposable — read any of the ads at the back of Science for verification…

Nov 07, 2012 2:30pm EST  --  Report as abuse
HeatherD wrote:

To original author: Your comments are extremely biased and are probably not accurate. Are you sure they are in a flood zone? I would bet money they are not zoned that way. In addition, when is the last time you heard of NYU being in hurricaine central? Finally, constant reference to PETA illegetimizes your concern for the mice. Instead of using sensationalism to make your point, it would better serve you to empathize with the workers at NYU who not only worked through a crises situation when they most likely wanted to be at home dealing with personal crises but wound up losing years worth of research in this disaster. To criticize the planning of the building is shortsited and insensitive.

Nov 07, 2012 3:40pm EST  --  Report as abuse
HeatherD wrote:

I find this article to be inflammatory, insensitive and worst of all inaccurate. The quotes the author chose to use are biased and manipulative. Perhaps a better emphasis on how much work the animal technicians took on through a natural disaster would have server the article better. Instead the author chose to focus on misinformation about flood zones, and irreputable social terrorists (namely PETA). Although I don’t agree that mice are expendable as many of the above comments are suggesting, I do think that priority should be placed on human life and that the researchers/technicians more than likely acted properly in this situation and unfortunately still lost animals. these people were brought into the facility as volunteers and put themselves in harms way, in addition they were brought away from their families and loved ones during a time of crisis. I find what they did during this storm heroic and commend them for it. The author chooses instead to condemn them making their efforts seem simplistic at best. In addition to state casually that NYU is in a flood zone is ridiculous. When is the last time that area was listed in hurricaine central. Next time author, check your facts and don’t try to sensationalize something for the sake of sensationalism.

Nov 07, 2012 3:52pm EST  --  Report as abuse
spameroo wrote:

“as long as they could get a grad student to do the grunt work, apparently, while Doc drives home to his house in the burbs…

give me a break. PETA may anthropomorphize the lab mice, but to most bio-researchers, the mice ARE disposable — read any of the ads at the back of Science for verification…”

I guess you could say the first part of my post applies more to grad students and postdocs, since they’re going to be the ones actually handling the mice, and the second half to the PIs as well.
I personally think the actual researchers are probably a better source for their opinions than inferences from print ads in a general-purpose journal like Science. I don’t think very many people have the time or inclination to peruse broad topic print journals for leisure reading time (hell, I was receiving a print subscription to Science through some free grad student membership for all of last year, and I don’t think I ever opened an issue…).

I’m certainly not trying to argue that every PI goes through and names every rat and pets them and hugs them every day or something. One individual mouse is probably going to be more or less replaceable, too. But considering it can take a full year or more just to create a mouse line you need to begin experiments, losing all of a lab’s cages could mean multiple students having to redo their entire projects at once, entire grants irrelevant, etc. That’s not exactly a minor bump in the road, even for someone with full tenure.

Nov 07, 2012 4:02pm EST  --  Report as abuse
JeffreyV wrote:

Lets reach zero needless human deaths first,and then start worrying about animals.

Nov 07, 2012 4:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse
wilhelm wrote:

‘Lets reach zero needless human deaths first,and then start worrying about animals.’

there was no suggestion of a triage regarding lab animals versus lab workers, nor did the report suggest that any PhD sacrificed him or herself for the sake of caged animals. (That will be the day that pigs fly past the lab, speaking fluent French.)

the point _was_ made (in the essay) that putting your animal lab below grade on a floodplain is ill advised, and that given the advanced warning of the storm, there is no good excuse for leaving all the animals to drown. it was not a surprise event.

I will go out on a (short) limb and suggest that these lab facilities are endowed and so the physical plant alteration costs could be covered ‘easily,’ relative to other Univ expenditures.

Nov 07, 2012 5:43pm EST  --  Report as abuse
wilhelm wrote:

‘Lets reach zero needless human deaths first,and then start worrying about animals.’

there was no suggestion of a triage regarding lab animals versus lab workers, nor did the report suggest that any PhD sacrificed him or herself for the sake of caged animals. (That will be the day that pigs fly past the lab, speaking fluent French.)

the point _was_ made (in the essay) that putting your animal lab below grade on a floodplain is ill advised, and that given the advanced warning of the storm, there is no good excuse for leaving all the animals to drown. it was not a surprise event.

I will go out on a (short) limb and suggest that these lab facilities are endowed and so the physical plant alteration costs could be covered ‘easily,’ relative to other Univ expenditures.

Nov 07, 2012 5:43pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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