|NEWS RELEASE||June 4, 2009|
Training Videos Reveal Unlawful Use of Live Animals
Use of Monkeys in Chemical Casualty Courses and Wounding of Live Animals for Trauma Training Violate Military Regulations, Doctors Say
WASHINGTON—A vervet monkey spasms violently after being injected with a toxic dose of a drug that simulates the effects of a chemical weapons attack. An instructor plunges a scalpel into a live goat to create traumatic wounds. Two military training videos obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal the unlawful use of live monkeys and goats in chemical casualty courses and combat trauma training at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Sam Houston, and other military facilities.
Seventeen former military doctors and medics are joining the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) on June 3 to file a Petition for Enforcement with the Army surgeon general and other military medical leaders to halt the practices, which violate Department of Defense animal welfare rules.
Superior, human-focused training methods exist for each procedure in the videos, petitioners say. One video reveals that vervet monkeys are given a toxic dose of physostigmine, a drug that can cause seizures, difficulty breathing, and sometimes death. In the second video, trainees perform invasive procedures on a live, anesthetized goat. The trauma-training instructor in the video repeatedly explains that goats differ from human casualties in many important ways, including anatomical landmarks and response to treatment.
The military's trauma-training program subjects more than 9,000 animals a year to severe injuries, including stab wounds, gunshot wounds, burns, and amputations. In some classes, goats have legs amputated with tree trimmers.
"Battlefield medics and others caring for our troops should receive state-of-the-art, human-centered training," says Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H., of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. "Training with goats and monkeys is inhumane and violates military animal welfare regulations. It also offers an inferior educational experience. Treating a goat with an artificially created wound is very different from caring for a human casualty."
Many of the signatories have direct experience treating wounded troops. Capt. Charles Rosciam, Medical Service Corps, U.S. Navy (Ret.), served 13 months in combat attached to the Marine Corps and treated well over a hundred combat casualties.
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.