I was dismayed to learn the University of Wisconsin is still tormenting cats in cruel and useless “sound localization” experiments. Cats used in these experiments have steel coils implanted in their eyes, holes drilled into their skulls and electrodes implanted in their brains. Sometimes, they even have their ears cut off or are intentionally deafened by having a toxic chemical applied to their inner ear. They are then deprived of food for several days in order to coerce them to look in the direction of sounds during experimental sessions in which their heads are immobilized by a bolt screwed to their skulls.

This is not an issue of academic freedom, by the way. This is an issue of extreme abuse, torture and horrific, inhumane violence toward sentient living creatures. The faculty, staff and students, as well as the Board of Regents at UW, should be ashamed violence against animals is being perpetuated on campus. In an effort to spare UW’s good name, these experiments should be banned permanently. Otherwise, the school will continue to look like the cruel, inhumane, uncaring and violent place it is.

By the way, I do not appreciate – nor do many caring people globally – UW scientist and spokesperson Eric Sandgren is often angry when the United States Department of Agriculture notes problems with UW’s animal experiments, but will use the USDA when the mood fits to attack and marginalize good people who want to see change, especially people at UW or in the state of Wisconsin who see such animal experimentation as intolerable. Even if you support animal experimentation, the federal animal welfare laws by which scientists are supposed to abide are woefully inadequate. Thankfully there are scientists in various fields, both at UW and elsewhere, who disagree with Sandgren and his colleagues and their use and support of non-human animals in experiments. What is most sad about Sandgren is he is an animal experimenter. To have him comment on UW’s policies is akin to having the fox guard the hen house.

Joel Helfrich, Ph.D., (helf0010@umn.edu) is a visiting faculty member in environmental studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.