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NEWS RELEASE January 14, 2009

Live Dog Use for Trauma Training at University of Michigan Violates Federal Law, Doctors Say in Complaint Filed with the USDA

Lost Dogs and Surrendered Pets from Michigan Animal Shelters Used for Lethal Procedures at University, Records Show

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Live dogs from Michigan animal shelters are unlawfully used in advanced trauma life support surgical skills training at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) alleges in a federal complaint filed Jan. 14. More than 90 percent of U.S. facilities providing trauma training use lifelike human patient models and other high-tech nonanimal methods.

Documents obtained by PCRM under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act reveal that the university is using lost or surrendered pets—including a silver-and-black malamute named Koda and a wandering golden retriever picked up while still wearing his blue collar—for these lethal procedures. Advanced trauma life support training involves cutting open a live, anesthetized dog and practicing emergency medical procedures. After the training session, the animals are killed. Effective nonanimal alternatives have been approved by the American College of Surgeons, the body that oversees these courses.

“The University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus is one of the last facilities in the country still using live dogs for advanced trauma life support training,” says cardiologist John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., PCRM’s senior medical and research adviser. “The school should stop using animals in these inhumane classes immediately, especially since nonanimal teaching methods actually offer a better way to master lifesaving procedures that will be  used on human beings.” Of nine known facilities in Michigan that offer ATLS courses, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is the only one using live animals, rather than TraumaMan or other lifelike human models from its world-class simulation center.

PCRM’s complaint, which will be filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Eastern Region, states, “We believe that this animal use is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act because the principal investigator provided false information about alternative nonanimal technologies to justify animal use in his IACUC protocol.”

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 McVey
202-686-2210, ext. 316

John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.
John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.

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