Mehmet Oz’s animal medical research comes under scrutiny in key race in Pennsylvania
Mehmet Oz’s medical research record is coming under renewed scrutiny in the already contentious Pennsylvania Senate contest, prompting the Republican nominee’s campaign to vehemently deny claims by Democrat John Fetterman that he allegedly animal abuse.
The controversy stems from Oz’s time as a “principal investigator” in the laboratories of the Institute of Comparative Medicine at Columbia University, where Oz’s research involved the use of dogs, pigs, calves, rabbits and rodents, according to public reports and documents reviewed by CNN. Columbia’s website notes that a Principal Investigator “has overall responsibility for safety and compliance in their lab,” while noting that many lab responsibilities can be delegated to a “Competent Designated Person.”
The website Jezebel released a report this week claiming that between 1989 and 2010, more than 300 dogs were killed in the course of this research, according to Oz’s site review of published studies. Additionally, Columbia University paid the USDA a $2,000 fine for violating the Animal Welfare Act in 2004 after the university investigated its animal research practices, including research conducted by Oz.
In its 2020 guidelines on euthanasia of animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association acknowledges that the slaughter of healthy animals, including in conjunction with biomedical research, is “unpleasant and morally difficult”, but also “a necessity practice”.
“The AVMA recognizes that such actions are acceptable if those performing euthanasia adhere to strict policies, guidelines and regulations,” it says.
Animal rights groups have long opposed such killings.
In 2004, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleged that Oz was “responsible for the extreme suffering endured by the dogs used in his cardiac experiments”, citing whistleblower testimony and documents from an internal University of Columbia.
Now Oz finds himself under attack by Fetterman, the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, for his research practices, which sets his campaign back.
“Doctor Oz has never abused animals, and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous,” said Brittany Yanick, spokesperson for the Oz campaign, calling the allegation “totally false and absurd” and accusing the Fetterman campaign. for pushing the story to “every reporter under the sun to distract voters from the issues that really matter.
Yanick added: “Dr. Oz was not in the operating room when the operations were done, he was not present during the post-operative treatments, no one alerted him to the problem until that the cases are over and he does not condone animal abuse,” Yanick said.
The allegations, however, have injected a new line of attack into one of the nation’s most watched Senate races, a matchup between Oz and Fetterman that represents the Democrat’s best chance to land a seat in the equally divided body. A CNN Poll of Polls average shows close competition in the Commonwealth, with Fetterman having the support of 50% of likely voters compared to 45% who support Oz.
The lieutenant governor responded to the report on Twitter, writing on Wednesday, “Dr. Oz kills puppies. This is the tweet” and sarcastically responding to an Oz tweet from May where the Republican posed with a dog, asking, “Has anyone seen this dog since May?
“Dr. Oz is a puppy killer,” Fetterman wrote shortly after Jezebel’s story was published.