Issues
Killing by Decompression

Wisconsin Statute 951.025, “Crimes Against Animals,” isn’t hard to understand. It says:

Decompression prohibited.
No person may kill an animal by means of decompression.

Decompression sickness, commonly called the bends, occurs when bubbles of nitrogen gas form in the blood, muscle, skin, the brain and other organs, or in bone. The pain can be excruciating and can lead to death.

Increased atmospheric pressure forces additional nitrogen into the blood. When someone is exposed to high pressure for a time, like a scuba diver or a sheep in UW-Madison's Hyperbaric Pressure Chamber, and then decompresses too quickly, the nitrogen forms bubbles as it turns back into a gas.

Since at least 1988,* vivisectors at the University of Wisconsin Madison have been killing sheep with decompression. In a 2008 report they explain:

Sixteen adult Suffolk ewes with no evidence of clinical lameness and with normal limb bone scans were subjected to a single 24-hour exposure of compressed air in a large, high pressure chamber at the UW Biotron Laboratory.

Afterwards,

Each animal was observed for clinical signs of decompression sickness such as limb lifting, a manifestation of the discomfort in limb bends, labored breathing or panting, indicative of pulmonary gas embolism, otherwise known as the “chokes” or respiratory decompression sickness (RDCS). The sheep were observed continuously for 4 h[ours] immediately post-dropout decompression. The number of limb-lifting episodes in each limb was recorded.

Decompression caused six fatal cases of the chokes or respiratory decompression sickness (RDCS).

All four “control” sheep that breathed only air during [decompression] died of RDCS. One sheep in each of the 15-min and 1-h [oxygen] pre-breathing groups also died of RDCS.

The Alliance has sent a complaint ro the National Institutes of Health's Officice of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW). We have also written to the Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard and asked him to investigate and prosecute those involved in these cruel experiments to the full extent of the law.

If you haven't done so already, please send Mr. Blanchard a polite letter asking him to investigate this apparent violation of Wisconsin's Crimes Against Animals statute.

Please send letters to:

Brian Blanchard
Dane County District Attorney
Dane County Courthouse Room 3000
215 S. Hamilton
Madison, WI 53703-3297

Read our letter to the District Attorney and our complaint to the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

Get involved today.

*Oxygen pre-breathing decreases dysbaric diseases in UW sheep undergoing hyperbaric exposure. Sobakin AS, Wilson MA, Lehner CE, Dueland RT, Gendron-Fitzpatrick AP. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2008.

Dysbaric osteonecrosis in divers and caisson workers. An animal model. Lehner CE, Adams WM, Dubielzig RR, Palta M, Lanphier EH. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1997.

Experimental respiratory decompression sickness in sheep. Atkins CE, Lehner CE, Beck KA, Dubielzig RR, Nordheim EV, Lanphier EH. J Appl Physiol. 1988.