Posted Monday, December 1, 2013 --- 6:24 p.m.
Pictures of a lab cat are now being displayed throughout Madison on the sides of city buses. Madison Metro buses rolled out a new Peta ad campaign. The picture shows a cat with a metal bar screwed to its head.
The copy reads "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments." Peta says the cat pictured, was starved and intentionally deafened. Peta hopes the public will find the images disturbing and will call in to the state and federal government to get funding taken away from these experiments.
UW Madison also released a statement saying the picture of the cat was taken four years ago from a pilot study. They say right now two cats are part of research involved in ear implants for people, and credit many lifesaving procedures and techniques to animal testing.
Madison Metro spokesperson, Mick Rusch, says the company had many upset callers, but couldn't do anything about it.
"We worked with the organization and we couldn't get them to change the image that went on there, so those images went on the buses today."
Rusch says if they could leave the lab cats off the buses, they would.
"It is a first amendment right for these advertisers."
Madison Metro does have a policy -- but it's 20 years old. It keeps libelous and obscene ads off the sides of buses, but...
"By the legal definition of obscene as our legal office has determined, this doesn't meet that criteria."
Peta first came to Madison Metro about 2 months ago looking to put up the advertising, Rusch says it's been a back and forth battle since then.
"We tried to disallow that image and the first amendment rights were pointed out to us in a legal way, and yeah, a lawsuit was threatened."
The picture is now plastered on the sides and back of a handful of buses and is pictured inside about 100 more. Leaving Madison Metro stuck in the middle of a fight, and in turn taking all the heat from riders. Mick says the phones have been ringing all day about the cat images.
"We're not endorsing either side of this, our buses are a public forum where anyone can advertise so we don't have the luxury of having an opinion on this."
They'll revisit the 20-year-old policy, but until then Peta can keep sending their message out through the bus systems.
The deal Peta made with Madison Metro will go for the next 8 weeks and it's costing them $12,000. Rusch says the advertising on the sides of buses keep the fares low for riders.