Dr Mehmet Oz, a Donald Trump-endorsed candidate running for an open Senate seat in Pennsylvania, is facing resurfaced allegations that he was a "principal investigator" on experiments that resulted in the deaths of more than 300 dogs, including an entire litter of puppies. And, perplexingly, he doesn’t seem to want to refute these allegations or comment on them in any way.
Earlier this week, Jezebel reviewed 75 studies published in academic journals involving Dr Oz's teams at Columbia University and found Dr Oz's team had conducted experiments on at least 1,027 live animals. Of these experiments, 34 resulted in the deaths of at least 329 dogs, two killed 31 pigs, and 38 killed 661 rabbits and rodents.
While it is both legal and not uncommon for animals to be used in scientific experimentation, there are guidelines for their treatment laid out in the Animal Welfare Act. Under the AWA, minimum standards are established for the treatment of lab animals, requiring researchers and breeders to employ pain-relief drugs or euthanasia on the animals during experimentation. It also prohibits the use of paralytics without anesthesia and researchers from experimenting on the same animal multiple times.
Prior to Jezebel’s explosive report, a veterinarian blew the whistle on Dr Oz's research in the early 2000's. Catherin Dell’Orto, a researcher, claimed the team's canine tests resulted in excessive suffering for the animals and violated the AWA. She alleged that a dog experimented on by Dr Oz's team was vomiting, lethargic, experienced paralysis and kidney failure, but was allowed to suffer for 48 hours before it was euthanised.
Ms Dell'Orto also claimed a dog had been experimented on multiple times and was kept alive for a month despite being in pain. In another example, the veterinarian claimed a litter of puppies was killed when an intercardiac injection of expired drugs was shot directly into their hearts without sedation. The dead dogs were then allegedly left in a garbage bag with other live dogs that lived with them in the litter before the experiment.
Ms Dell'Orto detailed her allegations to PETA, an animal rights activisit organisation, who then sent a letter to Columbia University and to the US Department of Agriculture. She spoke with Billy Penn last month and confirmed that the contents of PETA's letter was accurate to what she told the organisation.
In the wake of such claims resurfacing, Dr Oz has not publicly commented or responded to requests for comment. The Independent reached out to Dr Oz for comment and did not hear back.
Notably, Columbia University was ultimately fined $2,000 by the USDA in 2004 for violating the Animal Welfare Act; a result from a settlement between the university and the USDA based on its findings after reviewing Dr Oz's research.
Later that same year, Jezebel’s reporting notes, the university defended Dr Oz as a "highly respected researcher and clinician" and claimed his actions were congruent "to the highest standards of animal care." However, the university did not directly deny any of the specific claims laid out by Ms Dell'Orto.
The university has since apparently severed ties with Dr Oz and stripped his name from its site, according to reporting earlier this year by The Daily Beast. He previously held senior positions at the university.
The Independent has contacted Columbia University for comment.
While both Dr Oz and Columbia University have remained quiet on these allegations, the claims have not been ignored by Dr Oz’s campaign opponent, Democrat John Fetterman.
Mr Fetterman has been vocal on Twitter, sharing the Jezebel report and outright calling Dr Oz “a puppy killer” in one tweet. In another tweet, Mr Fetterman posted a photo of himself with his two dogs along with another message slamming Dr Oz’s experiments: “I LOVE my dogs Apparently some sick people like Dr. Oz get their jollies by harming animals... We have a close race here in PA and I could use your help to keep the #PuppyKiller out of the US Senate.”
Further, Mr Fetterman is selling a sticker that includes a photo of a dog along with the words "Dog Lovers for Fetterman." In a tweet, he told followers to “buy our latest sticker + help keep #PuppyKiller Dr Oz out of the US Senate," the tweet said, along with a link to a merch shop.
Mr Fetterman’s wife, Gisele Barreto, warned voters in Jezebel last month about Dr Oz and said his past should concern voters.
“I think if you look at a profile of someone who makes misogynistic comments, who abuses animals, who does all these things, you’re getting a picture of someone who’s a pretty dangerous person,” she said. “That’s certainly not someone I would want making decisions on my rights or any other women’s and folks’ rights in the state, deciding whether doctors go to jail for performing life-saving services.”
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