Animal Extremist Sentenced to Three Years and $200,000 in Restitution

In federal court Monday, February 29, Kevin Johnson was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution to the fur farm owner victims of his sabotage, according to the Chicago Tribune.  Johnson, 29, pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiring to travel across state lines to interfere with the operations of an animal enterprise, a violation of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve said she was troubled by the "escalation" of Johnson's activism over the years and that previous stints behind bars had not seemed to deter him. She also noted that his actions on the mink farm caused suffering for many of the animals he professed to want to save. In all, more than 550 of the minks died, many painfully, the judge said.  The fur farm owners were forced to close their longstanding business and lost their retirement funds in the process. Before he was sentenced, Johnson choked back tears and apologized for the attack, saying he has finally realized after nearly a decade of arrests that committing criminal acts was not an acceptable form of protest.

“(Johnson) has stalked, stolen, harassed, and threatened to make his point," Assistant U.S. Attorney Bethany Biesenthal wrote in a court filing, "... his past shows an escalating dangerousness."  Records show Johnson has a long criminal record in California starting in 2006. Video from the protests depicted him screaming into a bullhorn outside Pom Wonderful executives' homes, threatening to harm them and their families, according to prosecutors. Three years later, Johnson was arrested after threatening UCLA professors over their use of animals in research. He later pleaded guilty to criminal stalking and served about 1 1/2 years in prison, prosecutors said.  In May 2012, five months after his release on parole, Johnson was arrested for shoplifting and inciting a riot, prosecutors said. Later that year he was arrested again for attempting to burglarize a pharmacy, and when authorities searched a laptop computer found in Johnson's car, they found personal information about scientific researchers and their families, according to prosecutors.

An accomplice, Tyler Lang of Los Angeles, also pleaded guilty last year to the same charge as Johnson.  Lang is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge St. Eve on March 23, 2016.

Two Plead Guilty to AETA Conspiracy Charges; Federal Prison Sentences and Nearly $400,000 in Restitution Expected

Two animal extremists pled guilty to federal criminal charges and entered plea agreements according to the San Diego Unit-Tribune.

Joseph Buddenberg and Nicole Kissane each admitted in San Diego federal court last week to conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). Prosecutors and defense lawyers reportedly plan to jointly recommend a two-year sentence for Buddenberg and six months for Kissane. The pair also admitted that their actions caused more than $100,000 in damage. They have agreed to pay $398,000 in restitution to several victims, including Furs By Graf, a San Diego business that was vandalized, and to seven mink farms and two other businesses around the country.

A previous AETA indictment of Buddenberg was ultimately dismissed for insufficient details.  The same cannot be said about the indictment in this case.  It is extremely thorough, documenting the pair’s four cross-country trips to terrorize fur farms as well as their financial dealings, including selling stolen goods on eBay to pay for their travels, among other pieces of evidence.  A long list of potential prosecution witnesses was also presented.

Dogs’ Role in Cancer Research Featured in Latest FBR Editorial

On Saturday, December 26, the New York Daily News featured an op-ed written by Frankie Trull, the President of the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), covering the important role that man’s best friend plays in conquering cancer.

The editorial, “Animal-rights groups dog cancer research,” discusses how animal rights groups like the Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) are putting the lives of dogs and humans in danger by campaigning against animal research that is saving the lives of both species. Trull notes the results of two cancer studies involving dogs that yielded promising results and that opportunities for canines to receive cutting-edge cancer therapies are increasing rapidly.  In fact, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium is currently operating dog trials at 20 institutions around the country.

Why would animal rights groups oppose such research?  Animal rights groups want to end all animal research.  As Trull notes in her op-ed, “If they succeed, many cancer patients — across multiple species — will die. Who knows how long it will take to cure cancer if scientists are precluded from using some of the most effective research techniques available to them.  And that’s to say nothing of the dogs who will die along the way.”

The New York Daily News is one of the top 10 papers in the U.S.  Thus far in 2015, FBR editorials have appeared in 4 out of the top 10 newspapers in the country.  To view other stories from FBR’s media campaign, please click here.

Please click here to read the editorial.  To learn more about dogs in biomedical research, please click here.

Please help FBR continue spreading the word on the critical importance of humane animal research, and share "Animal-rights groups dog cancer research" with your friends, family, colleagues and on social media.  You can make a difference by donating to FBR by clicking below or by calling (202) 457-0654.

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The Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) Needs Your Help

If you haven’t already, please consider a personal donation to the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR).  For thirty-five years, FBR has served as the predominant and preeminent voice for the biomedical research community on the importance of humane and responsible animal research.  It is FBR that communicates with the press and the public about an issue that is controversial and emotional.  Universities, companies and researchers depend on FBR to speak out on their behalf and FBR has done this well throughout its history.

With public awareness, video, educational and media campaigns, they've shown the critical role animal research plays in fighting diseases that affect both people and animals. In 2015, FBR landed in the opinion pages of two of the country’s three top newspapers: The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.  Last week, they were nominated for their 11th Emmy Award for their TV episode on Alzheimer’s disease research, featuring legendary basketball coach Pat Summitt.

FBR speaks for institutions and individuals, but they can’t do their job without the involvement and representation of all of you.  That’s why your tax-deductible, charitable donation to FBR is important. Every contribution, large or small, makes a huge difference to FBR.  As the end of the year approaches, please consider giving what you can, whether it’s $15, $50, $1000 or anything in between.  It all matters.

Thanks for your consideration and generosity. Together we will continue to make a difference.

 

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USA Today Op-Ed by FBR’s President: “We’re Killing Chimps with Kindness”

The Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) continues to receive national attention for its effort to educate the public on the vital importance of animal research for both human and animal benefit.  Moments ago, USA Today featured an opinion piece by Frankie Trull, President FBR, discussing the pitfalls of a recent decision by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to classify captive chimpanzees as endangered species.

In, "We're Killing Chimps with Kindness," Ms. Trull discusses how the FWS’ recent re-designation of chimpanzees to the “endangered” list is effectively signing the death warrants for countless chimps.  She discusses the promising species-preserving research that will be lost to unnecessary regulation noting, "the move will effectively halt U.S. medical research with chimps — research that is moving ever-closer to yielding a vaccine for Ebola, which has wiped out one of every three great apes over the last two decades."

To read today's coverage of this important issue, please click here.  USA Today is the nation's top newspaper in circulation reaching 4,139,380 people.  Today's coverage is the latest addition to FBR coverage in other significant news outlets like the Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Sun-Times, and the Tampa Tribune.

If you'd like to help FBR continue spreading the word on the critical importance of humane animal research, please share "We're Killing Chimps with Kindness" with your friends, family, colleagues and on social media.  You can make a difference by donating to FBR by clicking below or by calling (202) 457-0654.

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FBR Releases Updated Informational Tools for Public Education

Time and time again, animal rights narrators give inaccurate information about the ethical and humane use of animals in lifesaving and life-improving biomedical research. Therefore, the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), has released newly updated versions of their widely acclaimed “Fact vs. Myth” and “Proud Achievements of Animal Research,” pamphlets to help address perpetually repeated falsehoods and present the truth to the public.

“Facts vs. Myth” challenges misrepresentations by animal rights groups with facts showing the importance of animal research for human and animal benefit, while highlighting the imperative of excellent animal care. To further these points, FBR updated “Proud Achievements of Animal Research,” which dives deeper into the role played by these models in most medical breakthroughs. Antibiotics, analgesics, antidepressants, organ transplants, joint replacement, and other therapies have all been developed with the humane use of animal models. In fact, the Top 25 Most Prescribed Drugs were created with the assistance of a wide range of laboratory animals.

Please share these pamphlets with your friends, family, neighbors, and on social media. Online versions are available at the links above or, if you’d like hard copies for your school or events, please contact FBR at (202) 457-0654 or email info@fbresearch.org.

Official at University of Washington Vocally Defends Animal Research

In an interview printed yesterday in The Daily, the student newspaper of the University of Washington, Dr. David Anderson voiced his support for animal research at the university, stressing the immense importance of ethical and humane medical research with animal models.

The Q&A with Dr. Anderson, the Executive Director of UW’s Health Sciences Administration and Institutional Official of the Animal Care and Research Program, clearly and concisely outlines the value of animal models in modern day biomedical research.  He highlights such points as the impact on modern day healthcare, use of alternatives, oversight, and animal care.  After reading the piece, one commenter wrote, “Thank you for presenting a balanced story on a challenging issue. I appreciate you showing the truth about animal research in response to the misinformation routinely stated by the animal activism leadership. Biomedical research will save lives and improve health in both human and animal populations and should be supported. The University of Washington is a world leader in medical advances and I'm proud to be an alumni.”

NABR applauds Dr. Anderson for speaking out in support of the issue as he, himself, has been the target of animal rights protests.  According to the article, his home has been targeted by protesters over the construction of a new lab animal facility on the UW campus.

To read, “Moment of science: Why animal testing is essential for medical progress,” the question and answer session with Dr. Anderson, please click here.

Is AAAS Anti-Science?

NABR and its members have been watching with growing concern as Science and ScienceInsider have repeatedly covered animal research issues from the perspective of anti-animal research sources such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Beagle Freedom Project (BFP).

As a result, NABR President Frankie Trull again has written to both the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Science news editor expressing disappointment with the coverage starting as early as 2010, but increasing in frequency during 2015. Her letter contains a partial list of 16 examples that have tended to portray certain animal research models in a negative light, whether directly or by implication. She provides not only the basic reasons many of the news features were objectionable, but also questions why Science chose not to report on other important animal research stories, which were found newsworthy by major media such as The Atlantic, PBS Newshour and the New York Times. Trull concludes, “ . . . AAAS publications seem to have spoken with their silence by providing no coverage on this contentious debate. Many biomedical researchers are now questioning whether AAAS publications have abandoned their biomedical research constituents in favor of groups with animal rights agendas.”

Please read the full NABR letter, review the Science and ScienceInsider coverage and decide if AAAS’ commitment to scientific rigor and factual evidence is lacking. NABR would appreciate hearing your opinions on the subject and receiving any suggestions for further actions at info@NABR.org.

New York Times Features Guest Column Highlighting Problematic FWS Chimpanzee Rule

As NABR reported on September 21, all chimpanzees are listed as endangered under U.S. law, both wild and captive, as the result of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) decision earlier this year.  The rule went into effect on September 14.  Just this past weekend, Peter Walsh, a lecturer in primate ecology at Cambridge University penned an opinion piece in the September 26 edition of the New York Times outlining potential problems resulting from the FWS decision.

Protecting Apes Could Backfire” discusses several unintended consequences that could have detrimental effects to health advancements not just for humans but for great apes, as well.  Recently, much has been made about the ancestor of the HIV virus, Ebola, and anthrax in humans but little has been mentioned about infections in great apes like gorillas and chimpanzees.  Researchers are racing against the clock to stop these naturally occurring threats to preserve the species but that may all cease because of the importance of captive animals to research.  Not a single research program has applied for a permit and it is uncertain as to whether any will.  The piece also makes several other interesting points pertaining to the shockwaves that will be sent through research benefitting humans.

Feel free to read “Protecting Apes Could Backfire” by clicking here.

Animal Rights Activists Discover the Truth After Touring Research Facility

It is a well-known fact that opposition to animal research has waged a long campaign of misinformation to misguide the public’s perception.  Recently the University of Guelph in Canada took invited individuals from an activist group to tour its facility.  As the blog Speaking of Research describes, the results were quite surprising.

The group, calling itself the Animal Rights Compliance, was given an insider look at the University’s operations giving a glowing, honest review of a research program striving to improve global human and animal health.  The group notes:

“Mary was very transparent with the University’s policies and I was given a tour of where, currently, only 6 dogs are housed. I was impressed with several issues; The University has extensive dogwalking/caregiving procedures, as well as adoption policies using staff, students and volunteers. It works in co-ordination with the local and area Humane Societies. My understanding is that their treatment models are evolving all the time, with the replacement of live animals with other means whenever possible. Another example is that spay and neutered pets are regularly returned to the Humane Society for adoption.”

These are strange words coming from an organization who states support on their Facebook page for “The complete abolition vivisection, animal research or drug testing cosmetics, testing of consumer products on animals. Infractions need to be dealt with by fines and minimum incarceration times.”

To learn more, please click here to read Speaking of Research’s account of the interaction.

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