Labs: Medical Miseducation
By Heather Moore
Staff Writer People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
never met the man who saved my dog's life. I don't know
his name or anything about him--but I think of him often.
He was compassionate and courageous enough to rescue
an innocent, doe-eyed dog from his physiology class,
where she was about to be tied down by her feet--with
her stomach sliced open and her rib cage exposed--so
that undergraduate students could callously watch her
die. She was just minutes away from death when that
brave, wonderful man scooped her up and walked out the
many other dogs aren't so lucky. Although "dog labs" have been illegal in the United Kingdom for several
years, thirty-three of the 126 medical schools in the
United States still include dog labs in their curricula.
most prestigious medical universities, such as Harvard,
Stanford, Yale, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine, have abandoned cruel animal laboratories,
but the Medical College of Wisconsin, Georgetown University
School of Medicine, New York Medical College, Brown
University School of Medicine, and others, continue
to use archaic dog labs to train medical students.
do no harm," Hippocrates' Oath, is the credo of the
medical profession, yet students are taught to harm-not
heal-the very first "patients" they ever encounter.
Each year, thousands of dogs are strapped to tables
and cut open so that medical students can view their
hearts under a variety of conditions. Inexperienced
students are often encouraged to perform painful, invasive
surgeries or inject various drugs to make the dogs'
hearts beat faster or their muscles contract.
given anesthesia, many dogs "wake up" and suffer stress
and trauma during sloppy, improperly handled procedures.
For example, students who were responsible for monitoring
anesthesia at Louisiana State University Medical School
have admitted that they had "no clue" what they were
doing and, as a result, dogs awoke during procedures
and began crying out in pain.
of the dogs used in these horrific labs were once trusting
companions who simply got lost-or stolen-from their
families. On many occasions, class B dealers, those
licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture
to buy and sell animals to laboratories, have been found
guilty of dog theft and/or obtaining animals by other
shelters in certain states are required to turn over
homeless dogs to government-run facilities for medical
experiments. This process is known as pound seizure.
(For more information on pound seizure, please read
factsheet). Proponents of pound seizure claim that
the dogs would be killed anyway. This is a shameful
excuse. In shelters, friendly, playful dogs have a chance
of being adopted into loving homes. Those who aren't
so fortunate are quickly and painlessly euthanized--not
confined, traumatized, and experimented on.
good doctor knows more than just physiology, pharmacology,
and surgery. Dealing with patients means listening,
counseling, and caring. Live animal laboratories can
desensitize students to suffering--quite the opposite
of what people want from a doctor.
there are more effective, relevant, and humane ways
to learn about human anatomy and physiology than by
studying canine anatomy. Students can gain valuable
experience by observing and assisting (under very close
supervision) human procedures, as well as by studying
cadavers, state-of-the-art computer simulators, CD-ROMS,
models, videotapes, and textbooks. These options are
less expensive than dog labs and allow for a variety
of uses and repeated practice.
school does not have to be a killer. Harvard Medical
School students observe actual human heart bypass surgeries-training
that is far more life affirming than watching a healthy
animal die needlessly. According to Dr. Michael D'Ambra,
the cardiac anesthesiologist who directs Harvard's operating
room program, "The only thing a student can do in a
dog lab that we don't cover in the operating room is
kill the animal."
Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee
for Responsible Medicine (PRCM) in Washington D.C. believes
that, "Medical students learn more about human physiology
and pharmacology from studying human patients undergoing
necessary surgeries...Animal labs don't teach medical
procedures that prepare students to see human patients.
They simply demonstrate known effects of pharmacological
or physiological agents on certain animals."
provides a list of U.S. medical schools that do and
do not have animal labs as well as information on alternatives
to live animal labs.
also offer tips for both medical students and the general
public on ending live animal laboratories. For more
information, visit: Ending
Live Animal Laboratories What You Can Do
course, medical colleges around the globe continue to
use animals for basic research. Countless other colleges,
universities, government institutions and facilities
experiment on animals for a variety of ridiculous reasons.
To learn more about animal experimentation and find
out what you can do to help, please see http://www.stopanimaltests.com/.
With your help, other animals will no longer be used
as living test tubes and walking pin cushions.
a comment on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.