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Billionaire's wife wants donation redirected

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP)--The wife of Oklahoma State University alumnus and billionaire T. Boone Pickens wants a $5 million donation redirected from the veterinary school because of how animals are used in teaching and research.

Madeleine Pickens told The Daily O'Collegian on Feb. 20 that she made the decision after a student in the OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences informed her of "barbaric" practices.

Pickens told the student newspaper she planned to send a letter to Michael Lorenz, OSU dean of Veterinary Medicine, on Feb. 23.

"Right now, when they buy these dogs, they bring them in, and they do a surgery, put them to sleep, do the surgery, wake them up, next day, put them to sleep again, maybe take out a kidney, wake them up again, put them to sleep again, maybe break a leg, fix it, wake them up again and then they kill them," Pickens said. "That's barbaric. That's what you did years ago. Medicine has changed."

Lorenz declined comment.

Gary Shutt, OSU director of communications, said in an e-mail statement that the university appreciates Pickens' "generosity and her love for OSU."

"We always follow donor intent and will work with Mrs. Pickens to direct her $5 million gift toward the needs she identifies," Shutt said. "We understand and appreciate Mrs. Pickens' concerns regarding the use of animals in teaching and research. We evaluate our use of animals in teaching on an annual basis."

Pickens said she made her donation in December but had not yet decided how she wanted it to be used. She still wants to donate the money to OSU, but not to the veterinary school.

After the veterinary student, who wanted to remain anonymous, contacted her, Pickens started researching the issue, she said.

Pickens said she thinks a solution is for the veterinary school to reach out to not only the community but also to the rest of Oklahoma.

Using her donation, the university could open a clinic for less fortunate people to take their animals when they might not otherwise be able to afford health care for their pets, she said.

"I think it's a fabulous opportunity for OSU to build a great relationship with Oklahoma--not just with Stillwater but to the surrounding towns as well," she said. "There are people that don't have a lot of money, love their animals, (but the animals) get cancer, they have a heart condition, they have kidney failure."

Pickens said she hasn't been able to hear from students, yet.

She said that if students want to speak out, they should contact OSU President Burns Hargis or Lorenz to tell them their concerns.

"I'm very much focused on OSU changing its ways with the vet school, and I'm hoping that students get involved in this and say, 'You know what? We have an opinion, too, and we don't agree with this,"' she said.

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