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Nessel opinion: state should create humane standards for animal experiments

Brett Jordan

An official legal opinion from Attorney General Dana Nessel says the state has failed to comply with a 1978 law that requires it create a registry and safety rules for medical tests conducted on animals.

Michigan’s three large research universities all conduct tests on animals. The 44-year-old law says universities that don’t comply with safety rules would lose the ability to conduct that research.

But Nessel says in an online video that the safety board to enact those rules was never created, and even though the health department has undergone several re-organizations since then, the responsibility to enact animal research rules remains.

“It requires Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services – or DHHS – to create the rules that the Legislature called for 40 years ago – rules that ensure the humane treatment of dogs and other animals that are used for medical research,” she said. ““In the decades since, researchers have continued to conduct animal experiments without any state regulation of how the animals are to be treated.”

Wayne State University, in particular, has been the target of a campaign to end testing on dogs. A Wayne State spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Democratic state Representative Matt Koleszar requested the official legal opinion from the attorney general and said he’s pleased with the result.

“That was the goal that I was hoping for,” he told Michigan Public Radio. “We know that dogs are our best friends and to know that these dogs are going to be treated humanely, that once the definition and the guidelines are established with proper oversight.”

An MDHHS spokesperson said the department is reviewing the opinion.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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