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Taxpayers Unwittingly Fund Animal Cruelty

pigPigs at North Dakota State University didn’t have anything to be thankful this November. PCRM asked Gov. John Hoeven to help permanently pardon pigs from the university’s trauma training course last month. But despite this request—and thousands of dollars in fines for previous animal welfare violations—live pigs at the university had tubes and needles inserted into their chest cavities and hearts.

In a letter sent to Hoeven, PCRM cardiologist John Pippin, M.D., asked for an immediate end to the school’s use of live animals in its Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) program. He also asked for an investigation into North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) more than 30 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture reports, these violations involved at least six instances of poor sanitation. One report stated: “NDSU failed to properly clean primary enclosures as evidenced by the accumulation and excessive build up of hair, urine (there was streams of urine emanating onto the floor) and sediment on the cages.”

These repeated violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act—which cost North Dakota taxpayers more than $12,000—happened under Philip Boudjouk, Ph.D., NDSU’s vice president for research, creative activities, and technology transfer.

“Considering NDSU’s recent track record of improper animal care … that includes continued approval of poorly justified animal use, we respectfully ask that you launch an investigation,” wrote Dr. Pippin in his letter to Hoeven. “As the state’s largest institute of learning, NDSU should be held to a high standard of transparency and accountability.”

In addition to the fines, the NDSU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee was cited numerous times for failing to ensure that the principal investigators considered alternatives to procedures that may have caused more than momentary or slight pain or distress to the animals, despite its legal obligation to do so.

While the NDSU ATLS program continues to use live pigs, PCRM recently persuaded four other ATLS programs to end animal use. Now, 95 percent of ATLS programs in the United States and Canada use only human-based medical simulators like the TraumaMan System, which is approved by the American College of Surgeons, the body overseeing these courses.

To ask Dr. Boudjouk to end the use of animals in NDSU’s ATLS program and to learn how you can help end the use of animals in other trauma training programs, visit

John Pippin, M.D.
John Pippin, M.D.

PCRM Online, December 2009

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