James Cromwell was arrested on Thursday for protesting dog testing at Texas A&M University

By Alexia Fernandez
October 31, 2019 05:46 PM
James Cromwell arrested at Texas A&M University on Halloween 
PETA

James Cromwell continues to protest animal research and lab testing.

The Babe actor, 79, was arrested during a PETA protest at Texas A&M University’s Board of Regents meeting while calling on the school to shut down its laboratory where golden retrievers and other dogs are part of medical research, a police department spokesman tells PEOPLE.

Cromwell and another man were charged with hindering proceedings by disorderly conduct and were transported to the Brazos County Jail where they were booked, PEOPLE confirms.

The university once bred sick dogs for canine muscular dystrophy research but stopped the practice in September, according to a report by KTBX. While the university has stopped breeding dogs, it has continued its research into the disease using dogs.

In a statement, Cromwell said, “Texas A&M continues to torment golden retrievers and other dogs, even though decades of these experiments have not led to a cure for humans with muscular dystrophy. It’s time to let the dogs out, and my friends at PETA and I want them released to good homes where they can live out the rest of their lives in peace.”

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, the university wrote, “Texas A&M University appreciates this opportunity to correct and clarify misleading information regarding our Duchenne muscular dystrophy research. It’s a shame that misinformation continues to be spread about this important research being done on behalf of humans and animals. We believe the public is smart enough to see through publicity stunts.”

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires therapies be proven safe in animals before they can be tested in humans,” the statement continued. “These preclinical studies are required before clinical trials in humans to make sure the drug does not have the potential to inflict serious harm. Unfortunately, no complete alternatives to animal research exist at this time, though A&M currently uses computer models, epidemiological studies, cell cultures and other methods when possible. Until you try a drug in a living being — a breathing organism — you won’t know its potential. You don’t want someone’s child to be the first time you try a drug.”

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“Human clinical trials in DMD patients, based in part on studies in dogs, currently are underway,” the statement read. “The DMD research done at TAMU has contributed to preclinical data that led to the FDA approving the experimental therapy in these human patients participating in the clinical trial.”

The statement explained “dogs [are] a good comparison when researching better health for people,” and concluded, “Texas A&M looks forward to the day when animals aren’t necessary for research in which they’re trying to find cures and therapies for people, but right now it’s critical when researching some diseases. A&M exceeds the standard of care for these animals. The dogs are protected by laws, regulations and policies to ensure humane treatment.”

Cromwell was previously arrested over similar efforts.

The actor spoke to PEOPLE in July 2017 before he was sentenced to jail time after he was arrested for a 2015 protest. He chose to spend time behind bars instead of paying a $375 fine and 16 hours of community service.

“Once you commit yourself to commit an act of disobedience, you know there is going to be consequences,” Cromwell said. “They imposed this ridiculous fine and 16 hours of community service. What seemed incongruous to me was why should I admit guilt and thereby besmirch the whole idea of what we were doing and the importance of it. So I said I’m not gonna pay the fine, I’d rather go to jail.”

James Cromwell
Paul Archuleta/Getty

The university has posted a response to backlash over its research on dogs after Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx sent a letter to the school’s president asking the university to end its research and release the dogs in 2018.

The Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences school at the university claimed PETA obtained a video in 2016 that “exploited” the dogs in their care and misconstrued their treatment.

“Never tortured: A medical instrument is used to measure the strength of the dogs’ muscles. These results are very useful in predicting whether a treatment will be effective,” the announcement read. “Strength is a major indicator of treatment efficacy in people. The procedure on dogs is done while the dog is under anesthesia and lasts less than 20 minutes. The test is done two or three times in the dogs’ life, has no after-effects, e.g. dogs are not in pain and have no lameness.”

The announcement added, “As one of the veterinarian caregivers explains: ‘These dogs are loved from the moment they are born until they leave this Earth.’ They receive around-the-clock veterinary care at a world-class facility that opened in 2016. They play outside and have toys and friends to play with.”

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