PCRM Action Alert

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Dear PCRM supporter,

We need your help to stop the abuse of ferrets by East Carolina University. PCRM filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, explaining that the school is violating the federal Animal Welfare Act by using live ferrets in its pediatrics residency program. Please help this effort by asking the school to end the use of animals today.

In the pediatrics residency program at East Carolina University (ECU) breathing tubes are pushed down the throats of live ferrets to teach endotracheal intubation. This painful procedure is repeated numerous times on each animal and is known to pose risks for tracheal bleeding, bruising, and severe trauma. Nonanimal training methods exist, making this use of animals not only cruel but unnecessary.

According to documents obtained by PCRM, all of the ferrets used in this training lab are killed when they are deemed no longer useful.

What's more, ECU purchases ferrets from Marshall BioResources of North Rose, N.Y., which breeds animals for use in experimentation. Since Oct. 8, 2008, this breeding facility has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for 16 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including violations for unsanitary conditions in buildings that house ferrets.

So far, the responsible ECU faculty and administrators have ignored pleas to change this practice. Please e-mail ECU Brody School of Medicine dean Paul R.G. Cunningham, M.D., F.A.C.S., and urge him to end this cruel and unnecessary practice. Send an automatic e-mail. 

Gaumard’s Premie HAL and PREMIE Blue simulators, designed to mimic the airway of a premature newborn; Laerdal’s SimNewB, which was developed in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics; and METI’s BabySim can all be used for this type of training.

Ninety-five percent of pediatrics residency programs in the United States and Canada do not use animals. It is time for ECU to join the majority. Please e-mail Dr. Cunningham today and ask him to replace the use of animals in ECU’s pediatrics residency program.

You can read our complaint to the USDA here.

Thank you for your help.


John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.
Director of Academic Affairs

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