Military’s Use of Animals Unnecessary and Substandard
By John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.
This letter was printed on Aug. 12, 2009, in The San Diego Union-Tribune.
As a cardiologist and medical educator, I’m certain that the Navy’s use of live pigs for combat trauma training is not only unnecessary but substandard. Inflicting stab wounds, gunshot wounds, and burns on animals is no way to train anyone how to treat severe injuries in humans, and thus it is egregiously cruel.
Medical simulators can replace the use of animals in trauma training courses, and rotations in civilian trauma centers can prepare military personnel to treat injured men and women on the battlefield. But goats and pigs, the two most commonly used animals in combat trauma training, are anatomically and physiologically very different from humans. These animals have smaller torsos and limbs and thicker skin than humans, and there are important differences in the anatomy of the head and neck, internal organs, rib cage, blood vessels, and airway.
The military can give our men and women on the front lines superior care by having its medics and corpsmen train on medical simulators, in simulated combat environments, and in military or civilian trauma centers. Animals have no place in modern medical training.
John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., is a senior medical and research adviser with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.