In the wake of an undercover investigation that revealed alleged animal cruelty at the Georgia Regents University dental school, an Aiken County resident has decided she will no longer study there and is taking action to make others aware of the issue.
The Humane Society of the United States conducted a three-month undercover investigation that it believes reveals the suffering and death of dogs used in dental implant experiments, according to a statement. The investigation also reportedly confirmed that the university obtains dogs from a “random-source Class B animal dealer” who has already been charged with violations of the Animal Welfare Act by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to the Humane Society, a Class B dealer is permitted to gather dogs and cats from various sources, including auctions, “free to good home” ads, online sources, flea markets and even animal control and shelter facilities. The animals are then resold to research facilities.
The Humane Society put together a 2.5-minute video that offers a “glimpse” of the alleged activities at GRU.
The video says the dogs' teeth are pulled and replaced. It shows footage of a dog's mouth stitched up after a procedure, and another dog lying dead on a table as someone with a drill cuts out a piece of its jawbone. Another dog is seen being placed into a black plastic bag in a red receptacle.
The video, and the society's full report, can be viewed by visiting bit.ly/1aKUPdp.
Hannah Kellems graduated from Silver Bluff High School this year and is majoring in biology with a concentration in pre-veterinary at GRU.
“It took all of about two hours for me to watch it from start to finish without turning my head,” said Kellems, a Beech Island native who wants to be a veterinarian.
Shortly after the Humane Society's report became public, Kellems began contacting Aiken and Augusta media outlets. She even emailed Dr. Ricardo Azziz, president of GRU.
“I got a very generic message back,” she said.
Kellems said she and a classmate from Silver Bluff are transferring from GRU because of the alleged abuse.
“What kind of veterinarian would I be if I stuck at a school that was potentially abusing animals? That goes against everything I'm for,” she said.
Dr. Mark Hamrick, senior vice president for research at GRU, released a statement last week on behalf of the university in response to the Humane Society's report.
“The Food and Drug Administration, which provides oversight for medical device safety and procedures including dental implants, requires preclinical studies in animals demonstrating that the device or procedure is both safe and effective for its intended use in humans,” he said. “Not only do we adhere to local, state and federal guidelines, but GRU is also AAALAC International (Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care) accredited, which is voluntary.”
Hamrick said the dogs were obtained from a vendor licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and that they are used “infrequently” in research conducted at the university.
The full statement from the university can be viewed by visiting bit.ly/18Qw2QX.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard.
Contributed photo Hannah Kellems, an Aiken County native and student at Georgia Regents University, said she plans to transfer to another school in the aftermath of an investigation by the Humane Society that alleges animal abuse in GRU's dental school.×