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Victories! Idaho State Stops Killing Dogs; University of Tennessee Stops Killing Pigs

In November, PCRM persuaded Idaho State University to end the cruel and unnecessary use of dogs in Advanced Trauma Life Support courses. And after a two-year effort, we persuaded the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine to improve its surgery classes by replacing live animals with modern teaching tools.

On Nov. 7, Idaho State University announced that it will stop using and killing dogs from a local animal shelter in an Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) class in Pocatello. Instead, Idaho State University (ISU) will employ nonanimal instruction methods widely used by other institutions. The announcement came two days after PCRM filed a complaint with the federal government about the use of animals in the course.

Border CollieDocuments obtained by PCRM under Idaho’s Public Records Act revealed that the Pocatello Animal Shelter was turning lost or surrendered pets—including a black-and-white border collie picked up when he was still trailing his blue leash—over to ISU for these lethal procedures. In addition, ISU faculty sometimes used shock collars to keep dogs from barking. These dogs were also subjected to unnecessary stress and pain during transport, housing, and preparation for the course.

PCRM’s complaint, which pointed out that the school’s dog use violated the federal Animal Welfare Act, sparked media coverage across the state. Hundreds of concerned citizens and PCRM members contacted the school to urge an end to the use of animals in the course.

As John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., PCRM’s senior medical and research adviser, told one local TV station, “It’s especially inhumane and especially indefensible when there are alternatives in hand which not only would spare the animals the trauma of going through this but also would provide a better educational experience.”

ISU now says the class in Pocatello will also use nonanimal models for instruction.

And just days before the ISU victory, PCRM received a letter from the surgery clerkship director at University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine (UTHSC) stating that students in her clerkship now practice required procedures on hospitalized patients “since the pig lab has been shut down.”

Unlike the sudden ISU win, the UTHSC success came after two years of PCRM’s efforts to persuade UTHSC to end its live animal labs and switch to nonanimal methods. Finally, this past July, the school’s surgery chair wrote to PCRM and agreed that TraumaMan, a nonanimal alternative approved by the American College of Surgeons, could replace pig use.

And although we had a lot of good news in November, our work to end the use of animals in ATLS courses and in live animal labs is not over.

On Nov. 12, PCRM filed an official complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture citing the unlawful use of live animals by Albany Medical Center. The complaint cites an ongoing 2007-2008 survey by PCRM, which has so far received responses from 193 U.S. facilities offering ATLS courses. The survey has found that 177 of those facilities (more than 90 percent) exclusively use nonanimal models for instruction. In addition, the vast majority of those 177 facilities exclusively use the TraumaMan System.

Visit to learn more about our victory at ISU and how you can help end the use of animals in trauma training classes at Albany Medical Center.

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

PCRM Online, December 2008

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