Members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protested outside the headquarters of Scottsdale-based Taser International on Friday, calling for the use of less-lethal electroshock guns on pigs and dogs.
Around 20 adults and five children politely waved to cars as they entered Taser, 17800 N. 85th St., before its annual shareholders meeting.
Some protesters held signs that read, “Taser: Stop Cruel Tests on Animals,” while one hammed it up in a fluorescent pink pig costume. Another wore a body TV — a flat-screen television a person can wear like a vest — which displayed video images of pigs being shocked with Tasers.
At one point, Taser officials, who were greeting the shareholders, threatened police intervention if the protesters did not stop blocking the entrance. But the protest remained generally calm.
“Animals can’t stand up for themselves,” said 30-year Phoenix resident and protester Elizabeth Diffiné. “They are completely helpless.”
PETA had a secret weapon they hoped would shock Taser. The organization purchased 435 shares of stock in the company, enough for a ticket into the shareholders meeting.
A PETA representative addressed stockholders in support of a shareholder proposal calling on Taser to enact a policy eliminating the use of animals in experiments.
The vote failed, but gained enough support that the question will automatically be considered next year.
“We want to send a message to Taser and its stockholders that Taser must end experiments on animals and must end funding experiments on animals,” said Alka Chandna, senior PETA researcher.
PETA feels the experiments are crude and unnecessary and the results are not relevant to human beings. She said Taser has enough human data already that it can use those statistics and cease testing on pigs and dogs.
Taser said it does not plan to stop testing on animals.
“You have to continue the research on Taser technology,” said Steve Tuttle, company spokesman. “There are some issues you cannot conduct using human models. We’re not going to be able to load up someone on cocaine, for example, and see what the effects are.
“(The tests) are approved protocols by universities. The animals are anesthetized, and we take the testing very seriously. We’ve been under a microscope for safety issues for the last three or four years, and animal testing has shed light on the safety. It’s critical for us.”
Chandna believes the research on pigs does not translate to humans.
“When you look at an animal in a laboratory, you’re looking at a very different physiology,” Chandna said.
“I would completely disagree with that,” Tuttle said. “Medical science has always used the canine and pig models for cardiac studies, and that is the base standard for testing for all cardiac issues, be it drug interaction, be it implants. There is no other animal we can use.”