More than 5,000 staff members of Texas A&M University (TAMU) picked up the phone this week to hear an unexpected voice on the other end: Hollywood icon Lily Tomlin was on the line pleading for their support in urging TAMU President Michael Young to end the school’s muscular dystrophy (MD) experiments on dogs.

In the message, the Grace and Frankie star points out that 35 years of these cruel tests have failed to produce a cure or even a treatment to reverse symptoms of MD in human sufferers.

“Texas A&M deliberately breeds golden retrievers and other dogs to have a debilitating form of canine muscular dystrophy …[and many] of these dogs suffer premature and agonizing deaths,” Tomlin says in the recording. “Others endure lives of misery and struggle to swallow and even breathe.” She goes on to urge everyone to take action against this abuse: “Please call or e-mail President Young today and tell him, ‘Enough is enough.’”

Video footage obtained by PETA shows dogs suffering from MD who were caged, sometimes alone, in barren metal cells in TAMU’s labs. Their swollen tongues and weakened jaw muscles made it difficult for them to swallow even thin gruel, and strings of drool hung from their mouths. Those who didn’t exhibit symptoms but who carried the gene for MD were used for breeding more dogs to experiment on. The video shows these dogs frantically pacing and gnawing in frustration on the bars of cramped, barren cages.

PETA’s efforts to end these tests have received support from patients afflicted with MD, scientists — who have criticized the experiments’ inapplicability to human patients — and public figures, including, in addition to Tomlin, Miami Dolphins quarterback and TAMU alumnus Ryan Tannehill and commentator Bill Maher, who called the university “dogs’ worst enemy.”

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