Doctors Persuade California Schools to End Cat Dissection

The Physicians Committee
NEWS RELEASE October 22, 2012
Doctors Persuade California Schools to End Cat Dissection
John Pippin, M.D.

California’s Newport-Mesa Unified School District Agrees to PCRM’s Request to End Cat and All Animal Dissection in Science Classes

WASHINGTON—California’s Newport-Mesa Unified School District told the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) that it will stop using cats and other animals for science class dissection. In June, PCRM requested the school district end animal dissection after Newport Harbor High School students mugged for photographs with dead cats, posted them on Facebook, and solicited disturbing comments from their friends.

“The staff at Newport-Mesa Schools decided to eliminate animal dissection and use electronic means in its lessons,” wrote David Brooks, president of the NMUSD Board of Education, to John Pippin, M.D., PCRM’s director of academic affairs.

“This is a victory for animals and it is a victory for students and educators, too,” says Dr. Pippin. “I applaud Newport-Mesa Unified School District for putting compassion first and hope that other California school districts follow its lead.”

PCRM also filed a complaint with Facebook and requested the company remove any photographs or posts involving abuse, cruelty, or callousness toward animals in the future, in accordance with its graphic content policy.

The acquisition and preparation of cats and other animals by biological supply companies are objectionable and often dangerous for students. Cats are typically acquired by these companies, including Carolina Biological and Ward's biological supply company which reportedly supply animal specimens to Newport Harbor High School, from animal shelters after euthanasia. Shelters have a greater financial incentive to sell euthanized cats, likely former family pets, than to wait longer to find homes for those cats.

The use of cats and other animals for science classroom dissection is unnecessary for optimal science education. Interactive and programmable software alternatives are available from several sources, and these provide educational, environmental, economic, and ethical advantages compared to animal dissections.

The National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Science Teachers Association, and the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society all endorse the use of computer-based dissection programs for all levels of science education.

For an interview with Dr. Pippin, please contact Dania DePas at 202-527-7382 or

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.

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