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Report: UMMC gave animals meth, bath salts as part of experiments

An anti-explosive rat reaches explosives during the second phase of its training at a police station in Bogota, Tuesday, July 24, 2007. The Colombian police force has been experimenting with training rodents to detect explosives in minefields. The process would take advantage of rat's acute sense of smell and low weight, which would allow them to find mines without activating them. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
An anti-explosive rat reaches explosives during the second phase of its training at a police station in Bogota, Tuesday, July 24, 2007. The Colombian police force has been experimenting with training rodents to detect explosives in minefields. The process would take advantage of rat's acute sense of smell and low weight, which would allow them to find mines without activating them. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara) ASSOCIATED PRESS

JACKSON -- A report released Tuesday alleges the University of Mississippi Medical Center poisoned animals with taxpayer funds by purposefully addicting them to drugs as part of experiments, The Clarion-Ledger reports.

According to Julia Orr with the Animal Justice Project, over the course of 14 years, UMMC starved and food-trained baby rats, implanted catheters and gave them flakka, bath salts and methamphetamine to determine the effects of drug use.

The experiments cost more than $5.6 million and were funded by taxpayers, Orr said.

The report was written by the Taxpayer Protection Alliance and the Animal Justice Project.

Rats and mice are not covered under the Animal Welfare Act, meaning they do not have to be accounted for in laboratories.

UMMC officials said they are reviewing information provided in the report before commenting.

According to the report, "The University of Mississippi Medical Center's Research Triangle Institute has received more than $5.6 million over the past 14 years for an experiment to determine if synthetic drugs like bath salts are as addictive as methamphetamine. Two-month-old rats were starved to 85 percent of their normal body weight and trained to press levers for food. The baby rats were divided into two groups and had catheters implanted, which delivered either methamphetamine or a mix of designer drugs. The results concluded that methamphetamine did not produce the same results as designer street drugs like bath salts and Flakka, often referred to as the "zombie drug", and more experiments were needed to test for abuse potential of synthetic drugs in order to determine how to regulate them."

David Williams, president of the Taxpayer Protection Alliance, called on Congress to end animal testing.

"It's heartbreaking that animals are being killed for no good reason, and infuriating that our tax dollars are being used to kill them," he said. "Congress must put a stop to this disgusting practice."

Katie Muldoon, founder and president of the UM Law School Animal Legal Defense Fund, encouraged UMMC to immediately end all animal testing.

"The University of Mississippi owes its students, alumni, and employees the assurance that it is engaging in only the most progressive and ethical practices. Any unnecessary testing on animals is a breach of that trust and should be ended immediately," Muldoon said in the release. "We need to strive as an institute of higher education to utilize only the most advanced methods of research in order to obtain the highest quality of results. Inhumane and avoidable experiments do not exemplify the mission of the university to "nurture excellence in teaching, learning, creativity and research," but instead hinders such excellence from being achieved."

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