Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama uses live dogs and rabbits in terminal (i.e., fatal) surgery laboratories.
This practice continues despite the widespread implementation of humane methods that provide beneficial care to animals in need while also providing hands-on training for future veterinarians.
According to a September 2018 statement from an anonymous graduate of Tuskegee’s veterinary program, healthy dogs from the Russell County-Phenix City Animal Shelter were being used in surgery labs to practice procedures, including removal of the eye, limb amputations, and foreign body removal. At the conclusion of the training labs, the previously healthy dogs are killed.
Alabama’s pound seizure laws allow for the sale or release of dogs and cats from a shelter to a research, testing, or educational facility. Records obtained by the Physicians Committee from Phenix City reveal that Tuskegee acquired 159 dogs from the Russell County-Phenix City Animal Shelter between January 2017 and September 2018. Tuskegee University has refused to answer questions about its source of dogs over the last year.
Several other veterinary schools have replaced terminal surgery labs with humane training methods, including Tufts University, Western University of Health Sciences, and the University of Florida. Some humane training methods include spay-neuter programs, feral cat clinics, extensive clinical rotations with practicing vets, veterinary community outreach programs and field service opportunities, mobile veterinary units, willed-body programs, and purpose-designed medical simulators and task trainers.