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  1. News Release

  2. Oct 17, 2019

Doctors, Veterinarians Seek To End Tuskegee University’s Lethal Use of Dogs

Billboards, Federal Complaint Push for Modernized Veterinary Training

TUSKEGEE, Ala.—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit with more than 12,000 doctor members, is installing billboards and ads in Tuskegee and Montgomery and filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The effort is aimed at ending Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine’s lethal use of live animals for veterinary training. 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 to practice surgical procedures, including removal of the eye, limb amputations, and foreign body removal. At the conclusion of the training labs, the dogs were killed.

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. Using the public records, Physicians Committee staff were able to match the names of 25 dogs to photos posted to the shelter’s Facebook account. Tuskegee University has not answered questions about its source of dogs since September 2018.

Tuskegee has previously been cited for violations of the Animal Welfare Act related to the misuse of dogs, including using a dog for practicing surgical procedures prior to euthanizing the animal without obtaining consent from the animal’s caregiver.

Several other veterinary schools have replaced terminal surgery labs with humane training methods, including UC Davis, the University of Florida, Tufts University, Ohio State University, and Michigan State University. Published studies have found that non-harmful veterinary training methods demonstrated superior or equivalent learning outcomes. Humane training methods include spay/neuter programs, feral cat clinics, extensive clinical rotations with practicing vets, veterinary community outreach programs, mobile veterinary units, and willed-body programs.

“With so many other veterinary programs providing training without harming and killing animals, you know it can be done,” said John Pippin, MD, FACC, Physicians Committee director of academic affairs. “There are many different humane, hands-on options available for veterinary training that can provide beneficial care to animals in need rather than killing healthy animals.”

The Physicians Committee is running one billboard in Tuskegee, two in Montgomery, as well as ads at gas stations in Tuskegee. The ads feature an image of two dogs and read “Tuskegee University: You don’t have to kill one to save the other.”

To speak with Dr. Pippin or for a detailed list of billboard locations or a copy of the federal complaint, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or

Media Contact

Reina Pohl, MPH


Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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