Surrendered Pet Dogs Killed in Trauma Training at University of Michigan, Live Pigs Killed in Fargo, N.D.
As recently as September, live dogs from shelters were cut open by physicians practicing emergency medical procedures at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. And on Feb. 2, live pigs were unlawfully killed after undergoing the same thing at MeritCare Medical Center in Fargo, N.D.
After both Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) courses, the animals were killed. Although the animals were anesthetized during the procedures, they were subjected to the trauma of confinement, shipping, preparation, and experimentation—although effective nonanimal alternatives have been approved by the American College of Surgeons, the body that oversees these courses.
Of nine facilities in Michigan that offer ATLS courses, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is the only one using live animals—including an Australian shepherd named Rocket in one of its classes—rather than TraumaMan, which is already part of the school’s state-of-the-art simulation center.
"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."
Based on the documents obtained under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, PCRM's complaint, which was 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."
The Michigan complaint received extensive media coverage, including news stories and op-eds in University of Michigan's newspaper, The Michigan Daily, and an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press by Edward J. Linkner, M.D., an assistant clinical professor at the University of Michigan School of Medicine.
The MeritCare complaint, which was filed with the USDA’s Western Region office, states, "We believe that this animal use is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act because there are equivalent alternative nonanimal technologies available."
"MeritCare Medical Center is one of the last facilities in the country still using live animals for advanced trauma life support training," says Neal Barnard, M.D., president of PCRM and a Fargo native. "MeritCare is a leader in so many other ways. It should be using newer, nonanimal teaching methods."
In North Dakota, other than MeritCare, the only other facility that offers ATLS training is one of the more than 90 percent of United States facilities providing trauma training with lifelike human patient models and other high-tech nonanimal methods.