Eric Sandgren, director of UW-Madison's Research Animal Resource Center, says what is happening to Yin is a case study in the outsized power of activist groups like PETA.
"It's not a level playing field," Sandgren
says that is not true.
Among the seven cats that are still active in Yin's lab
-- which have a combined 31 years of service -- the rate of infection "averaged out to be one infection every 3.9 years," says Sandgren
deliberately waited for the photos, knowing they would be a fundraising boon and a public relations nightmare for the university.
"The pictures are worth so much more than words," he
"The USDA came and they looked point by point at everything, and we got zero citations," says Sandgren
According to Sandgren
, suspending a program before an investigation is unprecedented.
"I don't think it was particularly fair that they did it that way," he
, the key to finding common ground between activists and scientists is to create open dialogue.
That's a goal he has nurtured through the UW-Madison Forum on Animal Research Ethics (FARE), established in 2010 to increase the transparency of animal research on campus.
says PETA's campaign has affected not just Yin, but other scientists on campus.
"Animal researchers are less willing to participate in FARE
or any similar public event in the face of PETA's
misleading public campaign," he
"Why talk when your words will just be taken out of context and used against you?"
Sandgren says he received a razor blade in the mail recently, something that hasn't happened to a UW researcher in a long time.
"The letter inside said 'Doctor Sandgren
, UW School of Veterinary
Torture -- Use this razor blade to slit your wrists.'
"I work with activists, I talk with activists and I try and have this dialogue, acknowledging the things we have in common," he
cohorts should be ashamed of themselves for their past behavior.