Feds Use Your Tax Money to Torture Owls at Johns Hopkins—It Needs to Stop

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Update: December 8, 2021
PETA has urged State’s Attorney for Baltimore City Marilyn Mosby to investigate experimenter Shreesh Mysore and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) officials for possible criminal charges related to Mysore’s imprisonment and torture of owls, without a valid Maryland permit allowing him to use these animals in his laboratory.

Mysore’s mutilation and killing of owls (details below) can be exempt from Maryland’s cruelty-to-animals laws only if his invasive experiments are approved by JHU’s Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC). But the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)—on the basis of evidence supplied by PETA—confirmed that from 2015 through 2018, he failed to obtain mandatory permits needed before torturing owls in his laboratory, even though the DNR reminded him to do so.

So the ACUC should not have approved Mysore’s experiments on owls during that time.

We’re urging Mosby to throw the book at both this rogue experimenter and the ACUC for terrorizing birds—JHU should not be above the law and exempt from punishment for conduct that would be criminal outside a laboratory, after not even bothering to obtain legally required permits.

We’ve also sent letters to government bodies demanding accountability.

Mysore’s lack of permits apparently violated the terms of his grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), so we demanded that the agency recoup the money that it had wasted on these taxpayer-funded experiments—since NIH grant recipients must comply with state laws—and deny any future grant requests that he might make.

Instead of holding Mysore accountable, NIH is abdicating its duty to enforce its own regulations. It pathetically tried to place the blame on the Maryland DNR, claiming that the state hadn’t sent him permit renewal reminders—a claim that Maryland DNR records show is patently false. So we’ve reiterated our demand that NIH stop letting animal experimenters break the law without consequences.

Given this flagrant violation of state law, we’ve also reiterated our demand that the Maryland DNR revoke Mysore’s current permit to keep owls in his laboratory and prohibit him from obtaining any such permits in the future.

In addition, we’ve demanded that JHU end Mysore’s experiments on owls, given his illegal activity as well as the cruel and worthless nature of his experiments. Indeed, NIH itself has reported that his experiments on owls have a shockingly dismal 5% “Approximate Potential to Translate” to human health, determined by the very low likelihood that his published papers will be cited in later clinical trials or guidelines.

If Mysore can’t consistently adhere to state law, he shouldn’t be allowed to conduct complex brain surgeries on live animals.

Please add your voice to ours by taking action below.

Update: November 4, 2021
Johns Hopkins University (JHU) experimenter Shreesh Mysore conducted invasive brain experiments on owls illegally for four years, so PETA has sent letters to government bodies demanding accountability.

Earlier this year, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) confirmed—based on evidence that PETA had supplied—that from 2015 through 2018, Mysore broke the law by failing to obtain mandatory permits needed to imprison and torture owls in his laboratory.

This apparently violated the terms of Mysore’s grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), so we demanded that the agency recoup the money that it had wasted on these taxpayer-funded experiments—since NIH grant recipients must comply with state laws—and deny any future grant requests that Mysore might make.

Instead of doing the right thing, the federal agency is abdicating its duty to enforce its own regulations. It pathetically tried to place the blame on the MD DNR, claiming that the state hadn’t sent Mysore permit renewal reminders—a claim that’s patently false based on MD DNR records. So we’ve reiterated our demand that NIH stop letting animal experimenters break the law without consequences.

Given this flagrant violation of state law, we’ve also reiterated our demand that the DNR revoke Mysore’s current permit to keep owls in his laboratory and prohibit him from obtaining any such permits in the future.

We’ve also demanded that JHU end Mysore’s experiments on owls, given his illegal activity in addition to the cruel and worthless nature of his experiments. (See details below.) Indeed, NIH itself has reported that his experiments on owls have a shockingly dismal 5% “Approximate Potential to Translate” to human health, determined by the very low likelihood that his published papers will be cited in later clinical trials or guidelines.

If Mysore can’t adhere to state law, he shouldn’t be allowed to conduct complex brain surgeries on live animals.

Update: October 7, 2020
PETA has obtained damning evidence showing that Johns Hopkins University (JHU) experimenter Shreesh Mysore appears to have violated Maryland law by failing to obtain a legally required permit to possess protected birds for his invasive brain experiments. In addition, he recently admitted that the traumatic methods that he uses in his experiments may produce misleading results.

Translation: Mysore's experiments are apparently illegal and useless, and he knows it.

PETA has fired off complaints to the National Eye Institute—which funds this fiasco—and JHU, calling on both institutions to put an end to this junk science.

Update: March 17, 2020
PETA has fired off a letter to Johns Hopkins University (JHU) today and released damning reports and photographs obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that reveal the extent to which animals imprisoned in the university's laboratories suffer as a result of negligence, incompetence, and a stunning disregard for their lives.

JHU's violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act include locking highly social monkeys in solitary, barren cages with no enrichment as well as a number of horrific deaths endured by animals imprisoned at the school. In one instance, a worker closed a cage door on a marmoset monkey, killing the animal. In another, a monkey was found dead with her head stuck inside a ball used for "enrichment."

What's more, in light of its campus shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, JHU has ordered its experimenters to identify "critical animals to be maintained," presumably leading to the mass killing of countless others who aren't considered "critical"—which begs the question Why were these animals forced to endure cruel and painful tests in the first place?

Now more than ever, it's imperative that Shreesh Mysore's laboratory be shut down so that the owls imprisoned in it can be sent to a sanctuary.


Original post:
Let's say that you want to help find an effective treatment for people with attention-related disorders.

Your first thought, naturally, would be to breed a bunch of owls, cut their skulls open, screw and glue metal devices to their heads, clamp their eyes open, and then restrain them for up to 12 hours and pelt them with lights and sounds to disorient them until their brains are scrambled. When the birds can't take it anymore, you'd of course just kill them, because they're of no use to you anymore.

No? Of course not. This sounds like a nightmare from the Inquisition or Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory.

barn owl

But that's exactly what experimenter Shreesh Mysore is doing at Johns Hopkins University today. He's been harming owls in these ways since 2013, and now, he intends to kill between 50 and 60 more in the same manner, all while pretending that this torment has some kind of bearing on humans with attention-related disorders, such as ADHD. And he's being bankrolled—to the tune of more than 1.5 million taxpayer dollars—by the National Eye Institute (NEI), a federal agency that's part of the National Institutes of Health.

This is where taxpayer money is going—and it effectively makes American citizens stakeholders in Mysore's ongoing owl torment, like it or not.

It doesn't have to be like this. The NEI should be funding human-relevant science that benefits actual patients suffering from debilitating conditions, not throwing away precious research dollars on demented junk-science experiments in which intelligent and loving owls are tortured and killed.

Take action today by telling the NEI that it's time to shut off taxpayer funding for Mysore's cruel experiments on owls.

Dr.
Santa
Tumminia, Ph.D.
National Eye Institute

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