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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE January 25, 2007

Doctors Lead Protest Outside Medical College to Save 60 Dogs Scheduled to Die in School’s Controversial Dog Lab

Demonstration Opposes Medical College of Wisconsin’s Use of Live Animals to Teach Physiology; Most U.S. Medical Schools Now Use Nonanimal Alternatives

MILWAUKEE—To save the lives of about 60 dogs slated to die this February in a physiology course at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), doctors with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine will join members of the Wisconsin Humane Society and concerned Wisconsin residents for a protest outside the medical college. Neurologist Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., PCRM’s senior medical and research advisor, will ask school officials to accept petitions signed by more than 550 physicians around the country who oppose the use of animals in medical education at MCW and other medical schools.

MCW’s first-year physiology lab involves anesthetizing the dogs, opening their chest cavities, injecting pharmaceuticals, and then killing the animals. The use of animals in the course has been criticized as inhumane and unnecessary by Wisconsin physicians and citizens, medical students, the Wisconsin Humane Society, and PCRM. MCW is one of only two medical schools in the nation that still offer live dogs labs, and one of only a handful that use any sort of live animal in student training exercises. More than 85 percent of U.S. medical schools, including Stanford, Yale, and Columbia, use humane and educationally superior non-animal alternatives.

“There is simply no excuse for using dogs or any other animal to teach physiology or other disciplines in the medical education curriculum,” said Dr. Akhtar, who completed her education without ever harming animals. “The Medical College of Wisconsin should immediately stop using live animals, especially since it already owns four state-of-the-art human patient simulators specifically designed to teach human physiology.”

WHO: PCRM physicians, members of the Wisconsin Humane Society, and concerned members of the public

WHAT: A protest against the plan to kill about 60 dogs in a Medical College of Wisconsin physiology course

WHEN: Thursday, January 25, at noon

WHERE: The Medical College of Wisconsin, main entrance on North 87th St., Milwaukee

Earlier this month, PCRM and the Wisconsin Humane Society sponsored a billboard on a Milwaukee freeway that calls on motorists to visit, a website offering information about humane alternatives. Last spring, PCRM asked federal authorities to investigate the use of live dogs at MCW. The government’s inspection report confirmed that suitable non-animal alternatives exist and required the school to justify why it is not using these alternatives. To date, MCW has failed to provide any meaningful justification for using animals rather than one of the many alternatives.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

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