Alternatives to lab animals being developed The Salina Journal Sunday, February 2,1986 Page 18 WASHINGTON (AP) — A growing number of American researchers are trying to minimize pain and suffering of laboratory animals and to reduce their use by developing alternatives involving computers, according to an exhaustive congressional study. The study released Saturday concludes, however, that laboratories will continue for the foreseeable future to sacrifice millions of animals each year for everything from studying cancer to testing cosmetics. The Office of Technology Assessment, Congress' scientific advisory arm, spent more than two years and $425,000 studying animal use in scientific research, product testing and education. It found that, while solid figures are hard to come by, at least 17 million to 22 million animals were used in U.S. research and testing in 1983, the latest year for which data were available. Many animal welfare advocates say the figure is far higher — some say as many as 70 million — but OTA could find no basis for that figure. By far the bulk of the animals are rats and mice. Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, birds, fish, amphibians and primates probably make up less than one-third of the total, the study found. The animals are used extensively in medical research into illnesses from AIDS and leprosy to baldness and menopause, and in behavioral research to study things like learn- ing, social activity and emotions. In product testing, several miUion animals a year are used to determine whether substances about to go on the market are toxic, irritating or otherwise likely to cause harm to their human users. And in education, animals are used for everything from pets for preschoolers to dissection subjects for medical and veterinary students. While it is proceeding slowly, the search for alternatives to laboratory animal use is being propelled by several factors, said Gary Ellis, the OTA analyst who directed the research project. For one thing, the use of animals can be expensive and labor intensive, and technological advances in com- puter and biotechnology are making possible cheaper and simpler alternatives. Some government regulatory agencies, whose requirements are the reason for much product testing, are willing to accept the data from alternate sources, Ellis said. In addition, there has been increased opposition to animal use by animal welfare groups, which has generated substantial media attention. Also, Congress in December passed a strengthened version of the 1966 Animal Welfare Act which, among other protective measures, calls for researchers to carefully exhaust alternatives before turning to animals as experimental subjects. ravel ftps GRAND ISLAND HORSE RACES March 15 and/or April 19 Sue Wood or person Includes: .Round trip bus transportation .Reserved table seating •Continental breakfast •Leaving from Sears Center for more information contact "Our Services ore Yours, Free of Charge" ANYWHERE TRAVEL in the Sears Center 825-2191 Fluffy's health now covered by HMO WEYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) — Worried about the cost of Fido's physical? Troubled that Fluffy's frail health could set you back? A Weymouth veterinarian says he has an answer to these pet-owner concerns: a health maintenance organization for dogs and cats. "There's no Blue Cross-Blue Shield for pets," said Dr. Matt Toia, director of the South Weymouth Animal Care Center. "I think there's a need for this." Launched this week, the animal HMO is believed to be the first in New England, if not the nation, according to the Massachusetts Veterinary Medicine Association and the American Veterinary Medicine Association. As with many human HMOs, the plan offers cut-rate doctor visits once an annual premium has been paid. The yearly fee is $95 for dogs, $65 for cats. This is not the first time Toia has been a veterinary innovator. In the early 1970s, he drove a mobile home through Boston's Back Bay section to pay house calls on residents' dogs and cats. A few years later, he used the same mobile home as a traveling animal clinic. Working with area humane societies, Toia drove to rural areas to spay and neuter pets at reduced costs. Toia said he became interested in the financial side of pet care several years ago when he found an insurance company willing to offer health insurance to pet owners. But the plan ended because it wasn't profitable. Under the plan, pet owners pay $3 for a basic office visit. The cost of hospitalization is $3 a day, compared with the usual charge of more than $30 a day for cats and more than $40 for dogs. /haek Radio /hack COMPUTER CENTERS III SALE! COMPLETE TANDY WORD PROCESSING SYSTEM Save $ 363«° TANDY 1OOO Carnival planners trying to pull a large snow job CHICAGO (AP) — Desperate organizers of a winter carnival where no snow has fallen have turned to Michigan's blanketed Upper Peninsula to import 100 tons of snow in a five-truck convoy with a police escort. "We're trying to build a 65-foot snowman. And obviously because there's no snow on the ground, we're going to have difficulty," said Nick Nikolich, a spokesman for the Greater Woodfield Convention and Visitor's Bureau, an umbrella group for the 20 Chicago suburbs. Carnival organizers called the Michigan travel bureau this week and were put in touch with officials in snowy Houghton, Mich. "We average 280 inches a year," said Bob Skugan of the Keweenaw Tourism Council in Houghton. "We're at 236 right now." "We're the beer belly of the snow- belt," he said. "We get 170 quadrillion snowflakes a year. We're trying to figure out how many of those snowflakes are coming to Chicago." The snow will come from a runway at the Houghton airport. Skugan rounded up five rigs from a trucking firm and arranged for the Michigan State Police to escort the convoy to the Illinois-Wisconsin border Wednesday. From there, the trucks will be escorted by police cars to Schaumburg, Nikolich said. A dozen crack snowman builders from the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity of Michigan Technological University will supervise construction. They won the recent snow sculpture contest at Houghton's winter carnival, Skugan said. "They built an assembly line for the Model T Ford out of snow," he said. The team will start work on the snowman Wednesday night on a hotel helicopter pad, with a goal of finishing before the carnival opens Thursday. The operation's approximately $6,000 cost is being shared by Houghton, the Michigan travel bureau, the winter carnival and businesses involved, Skugan said. "This year we're giving them the snow to whet their appetite," he said. "Next year if they want it, they'll have to buy it." HARDWARE STORES BARGAIN OF THE MONTH 9.99 Reg. 21.99 While Supplies Last Oval Bath Scale helps you keep a close watch on gams or losses with easy-to-read numerals. Its large lens gives you a clear look at the accurate analog dial. Basket-weave vinyl mat is easy to clean. Available in white, brown, or almond. 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