Shelter dogs used for surgical training
Dogs from the Pocatello Animal Shelter in Idaho are being used in a “surgical skills” lab at Idaho State University, where participants meet once a year to perform tracheotomies, and practice inserting chest tubes and catheters.
When the doctors are done practicing, the animals are euthanized.
According to an Associated Press report, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has condemned the program, and asked that it switch to using mannequins instead of dogs.
Officials with the Idaho Committee on Trauma, which sponsors the yearly surgical skills lab at Idaho State University, say mannequins aren’t as effective for training as live animals. They say they’ve offered the training for 25 years without complaint.
“I’m disappointed this group would suggest we’re doing something illegal, because we’re not,” said ISU professor Alex Urfer, the school’s physical and occupational therapy program chairman. He said his program was accredited three weeks ago by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animals.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine told the Idaho State-Journal it plans to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture this month, alleging the ISU lab violates the federal Animal Welfare Act. He said said the ISU lab uses sedatives and shock collars to keep dogs docile.
According to the organization, based in Washington D.C., only a handful of 200 Advanced Trauma Life Support classes in the country still use live animals for training.
“We have been able to communicate information with other facilities to change their practices,” Dr. John J. Pippin said. “We’re hoping that the light of day will cause people to say, ‘Gosh, we should have stopped using this a long time ago.’”