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U of Michigan won’t use dogs to train surgeons

Surgeons training at the University of Michigan will no longer use live, healthy dogs to learn drastic surgical procedures, the university announced Thursday.

The anesthetized animals — obtained from shelters — were used to teach tracheotomies, how to fix collapsed lungs, and other emergency procedures. After the procedures, they were commonly euthanized, the Detroit Free Press reported today.

The Free Press reported in January that only a handful of medical centers in the country offering such training using live animals.

In a statement, the U-M Health System said its Graduate Medical Education Committee reviewed simulators and decided to make the switch to mannequins for the class.

“It’s tremendous. All we really wanted them to do was look at it objectively and make a decision. Other schools have done that,” said Dr. John Pippen, senior medical and research adviser for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a national animal-welfare group based in Washington.

His group filed a complaint against the university in January with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, claiming Dr. Richard Burney, the surgeon who runs the Advanced Trauma and Life Support class, made false statements about the utility of simulators to justify using animals to the university’s animal-care committee. Burney, who raises show dogs, could not be reached for comment Thursday. But he has defended the use of animals over simulators as a more realistic training tool.

Documents obtained by the Free Press show dogs surrendered to animal control in one county were sold to U-M through an animal dealer.

Comments

Comment from Eighteenpaws
Time February 27, 2009 at 6:57 pm

This is a joyous accomplishment. Thanks to blogs like this and to, yes, NEWSPAPERS, “the truth” gets out there to rally support and change. Abuse of animals in any form is simply no longer acceptable nor tolerated. What a wonderful world…

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