PETA Claims Texas Tech University is Abusing Odessa Shelter Animals

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - A national animal rights group is calling out Odessa Animal Control and Texas Tech University. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claims the city is selling cats to the school for testing, and they're accusing Texas Tech of inflicting abuse on the stray animals.

"The animals aren't allowed to come out of anesthesia and are killed after the course because they've been injured and traumatized so badly," PETA Research Associate, Ian Smith, said.

The relationship between Odessa Animal Control and Texas Tech University in Lubbock is the foundation for a PETA research project claiming the shelter sells cats to the school for inhumane medical testing.

"The procedures themself are so brutal," Smith said. "During the course of these exercises, cats repeatedly have tubes forced down their windpipes, they have needles stabbed into their chest, and the core participants, the people who are learning these skills are receiving an inadequate education."

So NewsWest 9 went to the city to learn about the contract. They say once a year, for the past twenty years, Animal Control sells about six cats to Texas Tech for EMS, nursing, and medical related training.

"There's no indication that the cats are being taken up there and being treated cruelly or that they're being tortured in any way, and the procedure they're doing is for the good of the medical community," Cpl. Sherrie Carruth with the Odessa Police Department, said.

And on Wednesday afternoon, Texas Tech released a statement about the allegations: "Our highly trained professionals advise and educate researchers, staff, and students on the best practices for the responsible use of animals in research.  These actions result in quality science merging with animal welfare. "

Odessa Animal Control tells NewsWest 9, the cats they sell to Texas Tech are put under anesthesia before any testing begins.

"They are put to sleep," Cpl. Carruth said. "They're not tortured, they're not feeling any pain."

But PETA disagrees: Texas Tech and Odessa Animal Control should be ashamed of themselves for exploiting this unfortunate companion/animal overpopulation problem. Animal Control is using the animals that the public trusts to them, trusts to do the right thing, and turns it into a revenue source.

The city says the medical procedures are safe, and are a vital part of the medical education.

"These are the same cats that are strays, they have been picked up off the streets, they were abandoned, and there's no way we can keep them and they would be euthanized anyway," Cpl. Carruth said.

PETA also told NewsWest 9 most schools are now using manikins for testing instead of live animals. They claim Texas Tech is one of the few universities testing with the cats. The City of Odessa says this type of testing is crucial and they plan to continue their contract with the Health Sciences Department.