Thursday, November 14, 2019  
A weekly newsletter from Americans for Medical Progress highlighting the latest
animal activism developments and significant science news for communicators and security professionals.

-- For internal use only, not for distribution--

Court Rules in University Public Records Case Involving Beagle Freedom Project 
A court has ruled that the University of Missouri violated public records law when responding to a request from Beagle Freedom Project. On Friday, Judge Jeff Harris said that the university’s initial cost estimate of $82,000 for obtaining and reviewing records requested by the animal rights group “was contrary to the dual objectives of liberal construction and lowest cost mandated by the Open Records Act.” As a result, the university was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine in addition to attorney fees. However, the ruling doesn’t direct the university to provide the records to Beagle Freedom Project at a particular cost.

The animal rights group had requested materials pertaining to 179 animals involved in research at the university. According to news reports , Beagle Freedom Project sought the records as part of their “Identity Campaign” which they say was to identify dogs and cats used in research. 

The university said the initial estimate was based on their belief that the materials would require reviews by veterinarians and other specialized staff prior to release. This past summer, the university revised their estimate with a lower bill of $8,950.  

The institution released the following statement in response to the judge’s ruling: 

“The University of Missouri is committed to being transparent and in compliance of the law. We respond to nearly 700 Sunshine requests per year and devote significant resources to live up to the requirements of the Sunshine Law. We respectfully disagree that the University violated those requirements.”

The university also said it is reviewing the court’s decision and would determine its options.
German Lab Will Reportedly Close After Concerning Photos, Videos Surface
Media reports claim that a German lab that was targeted by an undercover video operation revealing several  concerning images, will close once current studies are completed. However, additional research sites owned by the company will remain open. 

The footage was filmed at the German Laboratory of Pharmacology and Toxicology. It was released publicly last month. The European Animal Research Association advocacy group quickly raised serious concerns about some of the images of monkeys and dogs shown in the video. News reports also claim that legal charges have been filed .  
AMP Advice: Tips for Engaging Your Organization's Communications Office  
One request we occasionally receive at AMP comes from those who direct animal care programs. They're looking for advice on how to better engage their facility’s communications staff. At many research universities and biomedical companies, PR professionals are highly aware of all the effort that goes into the care of research animals. However, we sometimes hear from those in charge of animal facilities about the need for increased communications planning in case of an animal rights crisis. So what can be done to get the PR office more involved? Here are a few tips:

Invite Communications Staff Over for a Tour
One of the best ways to engage PR staff is to invite them to take a facility tour. In many cases, communications people are eager to gain firsthand knowledge which helps them better explain how biomedical research works. If a little more coaxing is needed, you can remind them that taking a tour will help the organization be better prepared when and if it becomes the target of an animal rights campaign.   

Inquire as to Whether a Communications Staff Person Can Be Assigned to Your Area  
Another good strategy for getting on the PR office radar is to have one point of contact. Many institutions organize their communications office much like a newspaper. Staff have assigned beats such as “the cardiology beat” or “the neurology beat.” Some organizations even assign people to specific departments or functions that could receive press attention. Having an assigned staff person makes it much easier when you have positive news to share, or when you need to speak with someone urgently about a perceived threat.   

Provide the PR Office With Regular Updates  
Many public relations professionals are former journalists, meaning that they appreciate stories and enjoy storytelling. Feed this interest by sending occasional notes or setting up meetings to alert them to significant updates such as new facilities or impressive new animal well-being efforts. 

Alert Communications Staff When Concerns Arise…
No communications person likes surprises. Therefore, whenever fears surface about possible future targeting of your facility by research opponents, let them know. For example, if a public records request raises red flags in your office, the communications group would likely want to know about it as well. If you're unsure whether you should contact PR staff, we advise doing so just to be safe. One important task for any media office is to determine when events pose a serious communications risk to the institution. Chances are, they won't mind the call, even if the item in question is determined to be a moderate risk. 

...And if You Don’t Receive a Response?
Escalate. Many communications offices are understaffed and as a result, you may not get a response right away. If your concerns are related to an urgent matter, contact the department director or another staff member.  
Wisconsin Town Board To Consider Activist Authored Ordinance to Prevent Research Breeding Business
A three-person town board in Spring Green, Wisconsin is expected to consider a proposed ordinance next month, which could have concerning implications for research institutions across the United States. The measure, which was authored by animal rights activists in the state, seeks to prevent the opening of a research dog breeding facility proposed by a local veterinarian and her family. 

The ordinance is one of two local laws being lobbied for by opponents. This past summer, the Spring Green Village Board, placed one measure on the ballot. It seeks to add “research dog breeding facilities” to existing public nuisance laws. Voting on that ordinance is scheduled for April 2020. 

The second ordinance was recently submitted to a separate governing body, the Spring Green Town Board. It seeks to place extensive regional restrictions on dog breeding. For example, the proposed law would cap the number of dogs an individual could own at 25. It would also require dogs in a breeding facility to have constant access to the outdoors. This second measure was clearly crafted by opponents to specifically target the proposed Spring Green breeding business. 

If one or both of these local ordinances pass, they might serve as templates for others seeking to restrict biomedical research using a community-by community approach. 

AMP has authored letters to the editor to help educate residents and counter several highly misleading statements by opponents about biomedical research. AMPNews readers who would like to join our advocacy efforts are invited to contact us for more information. 
Upcoming Animal Activism Events 
We have included Facebook links, when possible, with additional information. 
November 14  
Seattle, Washington 
Event organized by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. 

November 23
Kingston, New York
An event organized by NY Farm Animal Save.

May 29, 2020
Berkley, California

July 24 - 27, 2020
Taking Action for Animals
Washington, DC 
A conference organized by the Humane Society of the United States.  
Ten Research Stories Worth Sharing
Americans for Medical Progress closely monitors the news media and other sources on a daily basis for breakthroughs involving animals. Please feel free to share these stories on your organizations' social media channels:






Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Center for Diabetes Research

Weizman Institute of Science, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry



Americans for Medical Progress