Artist Dan Witz has decided to make an in-kind contribution to the efforts of People for the Extortion, Torture and Abuse of human beings (PETA). Bethesda magazine reveals Witz has painted a variety of animals during his career but states he supports PETA’s efforts against animal testing conducted at laboratories of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. Consequently, a number of his monkey paintings portraying the animals as helpless, enslaved victims are ending up in a variety of places in and around Washington DC.
What Dan Witz does is paints on plastic in his studio and then glues his paintings onto fixtures where they can blend in. This despite the fact that the Montgomery County police state that such acts would be considered vandalism. While in London, the article points out, he molded chicken feet and placed them in different places (like grates and public gardens) around the city in an attempt to propagandize against the meat industry.
The NIH has stated that their lab experiments are designed to learn about the effects of social environments on infant development including their cognitive abilities. The agency indirectly responded to the street art stating it takes animal welfare very seriously and has written protocols to ensure the monkeys used in its experiments are treated well.
Even though PETA does not directly support this campaign they haven’t told Dan Witz to stop. With should be arrested and charged not only for vandalism but also for slander. His portraits of the monkeys used in animal tests are not true and are designed only to shock and not inform. If he had the facts on his side there would not be an issue, but he and groups like PETA do not.
There are instances where using animals in lab experiments is needed such as brain research and in strictly limited cases for discovering drug and therapies that benefit humans. I have yet to see any opponents offer themselves to take the place of animals used in lab tests. Below is a debate on animal testing broadcasted on BBC during 2008.