DALLAS -- Animal rights activists, angrily accusing General Motors of killing thousands of dogs, rabbits and other animals in crash tests, protested Saturday at the Texas State Fair and urged a boycott of the carmaker's products.
The members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Society for Texas Animal Rights claimed thousands of dogs, rabbits, pigs, ferrets, mice rats, and primates have been bludgeoned to death in crash tests at the GMlaboratory at Warren, Mich.
For the purpose of the protest outside an exhibit by the carmaker at the fair, the demonstrators changed the GM advertising slogan 'The Heartbeat of America' to 'The Heartbreak of America.'
'People want a car that will accommodate a dog, not one that's killed a dog,' said Dan Matthews of the Washington, D.C. -based PETA. 'When consumers learn that animal cruelty is a built-in feature in GM cars, we think they'll take their business elsewhere.'
PETA said it received confirmation from the world's other top automakers that they have abandoned animal tests, or never did them.
In a copyright report Friday, The Detroit News said it had obtained federal records showing that GM has killed about 20,000 animals since 1981 in tests aimed at improving auto safety.
GM and many scientists defended the tests, saying they have led to innovations that have saved lives and reduced injuries.
The tests are necessary to 'continue the substantial progress that has already made made' in reducing auto-related injuries, GM spokesman Jack Dinan said.
But Mathews, PETA'S special projects director, disagreed.
'In an age when computer models and state-of-the art dummies are the order of the day, they're still killing innocent animals in the name of science. It's like something out of the Dark Ages.'
Mathews called the tests 'wanton' and 'cruel' and said they are 'completely unnecessary' to scientific research.
The organization noted that General Motors claims its animal tests give it the edge in protecting consumers, yet GM cars account for 50 percent of all models listed on 1991's 'highest death rate' list, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Matthews said the auto show at the State Fair of Texas is the first of dozens PETA will target this fall. He said that as GM's 1992 models roll into showrooms this weekend, so will PETA activists, who have organized dealership protests in 45 cities urging a boycott.