Wins against dissection, pound seizure

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2000:

CHICAGO, HOUSTON, SAN DIEGO––University of Illinois veterinary students need no longer participate in killing and dissecting healthy dogs.

At urging of Class of 2002 member Linnea Stull and allies, the faculty of the UI College of Veterinary Medicine on February 8 affirmed a January 17 promise to adopt a new animal use policy which officially allows for students to opt out of “demonstrations or invasive procedures performed solely for instructional purposes which conclude with the death or euthanasia of the animal.”

Alternative learning procedures are to be offered to students who opt out of the dog labs. UI also discontinued using any random source animals, i.e. dogs and cats from pounds and/or Class B dealers.

The UI victory was among a string of early 2000 gains against the use of dogs and cats in medical and veterinary training.

Harris County, Texas, operating the largest animal control unit in the Houston area, will after March 31, 2000 cease selling animals to the Baylor College of Medicine, University of Texas/Houston Health Science Center, Texas A&M University, and University of Houston Animal Care Operations.

The county stopped offering dogs and cats to labs after Baylor, UT/Houston, and the University of Houston announced in February that they would not seek renewal of their contracts to buy pound animals, in order to reduce controversy about their research.

Out of the Jurassic

Earlier in March, the University of California at San Diego ended a 32-year-old contract to buy animals from the San Diego County Department of Animal Regulation–– fleetingly depicted in the film Jurassic Park II. as having been sent to capture a runaway Tyrannosaurus Rex.

There was no truth to the rumor that U.C. San Diego had applied to purchase the TRex for dissection, if captured alive, but Tony DiMaggio of the animal advocacy group Mercy Crusade confirmed to San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer Patricia Dibsie that local activists had been finding out somehow which dogs and cats might be sold for research, and had been adopting them.

U.C. San Diego Animal Subjects Committee chair Tony Yaksh told Dibsie that inability to get animals was the main reason for dropping the contract. U.C. San Diego acquired only one pound dog in 1999 and 30 in 1998, Yaksh said.

U.C. San Diego is currently using four cats, 213 dogs, 27,177 rats, and 87,541 mice in research, along with some primates, sheep, other miscellaneous mammals, and undisclosed numbers of birds, amphibians, and fish, Dibsie reported.

Rats, mice, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish are neither protected nor counted under the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Still earlier, on February 17, Clatsop County, Oregon, gave Class B dog breeder Richard Lee 60 days to quit the dog trade, after learning that he had 120 dogs on his land, up from 50 as of November 1999. The county has repeatedly warned Lee that he is in violation of zoning. The Oregon Court of Appeals found against Lee on February 2.

Getting a licking

Newspaper and radio ads sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine told University of Colorado medical students on March 4, the first day of a week of scheduled dog labs, that “The first life you save might just lick you,” and urged them to avoid killing their first patient.

About 30 of the 130 students opted out of the labs, Denver Rocky Mountain News staff writer Bill Scanlon said.

But Stull, for one, is under no illusions that proponents of dissection are wilting. UI veterinary dean Ted Valli “has now taken a public stance against the Illinois Dissection Alternatives Act,” she told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “This bill [HB 3254] is not a ban on dissection. It simply requires educators to provide alternatives alongside animal labs. Valli has already succeeded in dropping college undergraduates from coverage by the bill,” Stull said, reporting that Valli had argued that undergrads would need dissection experience in order to succeed in advanced classes.

“I pointed out that I was second in my class academically, at last count,” Stull said, “and had not participated in this nonsense as an undergrad, but to no avail.”

The Veterinary Record, a British publication, recently published a study conducted by Elizabeth Paul and Anthony Podberscek of the Animal Welfare & HumanAnimal Interactions Group, which discovered that students at two veterinary schools gradually lost empathy for dogs, cats, and cattle as they progressed through the training. Male students lost empathy to a much greater extent than females. As the ratio of female to male veterinary students has shifted from one-infive circa 1966 to two-in-three today, Paul and Podberscek predicted significant coming changes in the culture of veterinary work.

Some such changes are already evident in the growing veterinary acceptance of low-cost and early-age neutering, and rejection of claw-removal, and tail-and-ear-cutting.

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