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Tag: live

Experimentation on live animals no longer part of med school training, but it’s not over

goodmedicineEarlier this year a significant milestone was reached (and trumpeted) in the campaign to end the use (and killing) of dogs in medical school training.

This summer, the last medical school in which students had to use a live animal as part of their training — most often a dog — ceased the practice.

“Since the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Chattanooga ended its live animal laboratory in June, all medical schools in the United States and Canada have eliminated the use of animals from their curricula,” the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reported.

Those of us who sometimes read just the headlines, or read too quickly, might assume that meant dogs are no longer being used and sacrificed to advance human medicine.

That is not quite the case.

The achievement — and it’s not one to be diminished — pertains only to basic medical school, not to advanced training, not to medical research and not quite yet to battlefield training.

Shortly after the article appeared in the committee’s journal, the committee was calling on Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey to stop using dogs for emergency medicine training, and put up three billboards as part of the campaign.

Two of them pictured a dog staring down from the billboard, with the plea “Don’t kill man’s best friend for medical testing.”

The hospital, after defending the practice, later announced it would abandon it.

“Having reviewed current widespread practices and replacements for animal use, Morristown Medical Center has determined that the use of animals is not essential for training of emergency medicine physicians. As such, Morristown Medical Center will begin using either simulators or cadavers for this specialized, annual training,” a hospital spokesperson said.

Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard admits there is more to be done, but said ending the use of live animals in basic medical school training was a major achievement — one that was greeted with relief by those medical students opposed to the practice of unnecessarily sacrificing a live dog.

“We worked hard to stop these labs for two reasons: First, because of the obvious cruelty to the animals,” Barnard said. “And second, when medical students are trained like this, they come to believe that killing animals is somehow essential to medicine and science. That had to stop.”

The achievement is the cover story in the latest issue of Good Medicine, the Physicians Committee’s quarterly member magazine. But peruse the same issue and you can see that — for those of us who believe that sacrificing dogs and other animals to further human medicine is not OK — there’s still a long way to go.

The stories on the pages after the article recount efforts to stop practices that are continuing — such as live animals still being used to train emergency room doctors at the University of North Carolina and the University of South Carolina and Vanderbilt University, and in the Pentagon’s military trauma training.

All the same training could be done with simulators, the committee says.

That’s the point the committee has been making for years, and other groups, like American Anti-Vivisection Society and HSUS, for even longer.

Why it took institutes of higher learning so long to learn this is baffling — given some of the advances in technology, like this for example:

In 1985, 87 percent of medical schools used dogs and other animals to teach physiology, pharmacology, and surgical skills. Students were instructed to inject the animals with various drugs and monitor their responses or to practice surgical procedures. After the training, the animals were killed.

“That meant that we were to experiment on and kill a perfectly healthy dog,” Barnard said. “At the time, it was a ritual at most medical schools. Although it was a course requirement, I refused to participate. And I also made a vow that I was going to stop it, not just at my medical school, but at every medical school.”

As of May 2015, just two medical schools continued to use live animals: Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., and the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Chattanooga. The Physicians Committee negotiated with both schools to end animal use this year.

The committee continues to work on extending the changes to include postgraduate residency training, trauma training, pediatric training and anesthesiology residency programs.

Since 2009, 22 pediatrics residencies have ended animal use, leaving only one U.S. program and one Canadian program using animals, among 215 programs. And of 125 surveyed anesthesiology residencies, only one uses animals, the committee says.

Among emergency medicine residencies, the Physicians Committee has determined that 122 of 138 surveyed programs do not use animals.

The Physicians Committee has also worked to reduce the use of live animals in military trauma training animal use, and has campaigned for the Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act, which would phase out the practice over three years.

“The Physicians Committee’s successes have saved animals and improved medical training,” said Barnard.”“But animals are still used in more advanced training, and there is an enormous amount of animal use in basic research. We are continuing to work in those areas and are steadily winning those battles.”

Donations pour in for Barbara and Bowser

The Oklahoma tornado victim whose missing dog emerged from the rubble in the middle of a TV news interview may get another prayer answered.

Barbara Garcia’s Scottish terrier, Bowser, was spotted under a pile debris by the news team interviewing her after she lost her home in Moore.

“Well, I thought that God had just answered one prayer, to let me be OK,” Garcia said after freeing her dog. “But he answered both of them.”

Now, those touched by the scene, which went viral on the Internet, have donated enough money to make a new home a possibility.

A fund set up to help her get back on her feet and under a new roof was approaching $40,000 as of Monday night, just $10,000 short of its $50,000 goal.

“We’re still looking for a corporate sponsor who will match funds donated, so we can make the dream of building a new home for Barbara and Bowser a reality. Not only did Barbara lose her home, her daughter did as well,” said Erin DeRuggiero who’s spearheading the fund drive.

According to CBS News, the clip of Bowser emerging from the rubble has been viewed more than 3 million times.

“All of the other things … you know, one by one they can be replaced. A lot of it wasn’t even important, but I couldn’t replace him,” Garcia said in an interview.

Garcia didn’t have homeowner’s insurance.

“I was really just compelled, personally, to do something,” said DeRuggiero. In the first five days of the fundraiser, more than $35,000 was raised.

“Before the CBS piece aired, I didn’t know Barbara Garcia personally, but was incredibly moved by her story and of her reunion with her sweet dog,” DeRuggiero wrote on the Gofundme page. “… My goal is to ease her recovery, raise enough money to help her start to rebuild or relocate her life, and above all else, to show her that ‘life in the big city’ also means helping one another, even from 1500 miles away.”

Garcia says she’s overwhelmed by the support: “I didn’t know I was that important. Really, truly, I didn’t. I just thank everybody,” Garcia said in a follow-up interview with CBS News.

The “Build Barbara Garcia a Home” fundraising page can be found here.

Woman tries to mail puppy to her son

Time to reopen the annals of stupid human behavior and make room for Stacey Champion — a Minneapolis woman who attempted to air-mail a puppy to her 11-year-old son in Atlanta.

Champion, 39, was charged with animal cruelty after postal workers discovered the 4-month-old puppy inside a sealed package she had dropped off, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Champion told a postal clerk the box contained a toy robot. A Minneapolis police spokesman said the puppy would not have survived the trip.

The Star Tribune says that, while the package was still in the post office, it moved by itself and fell to the floor, surprising postal workers. Within minutes, postal employees unwrapped the tightly sealed box and pulled out the panting puppy.

The dog, described as a poodle-Schnauzer mix, named Guess, was placed in a shelter, costing Champion $250 in fees. Today, Champion tried to convince an administrative hearing officer to return Guess to her custody. (See the hearing in its entirety in the video  above.)

Champion said in the hearing that she didn’t know dogs couldn’t be mailed. “They say they deliver,” she noted. She further explained to the judge, “If there weren’t no mistakes in life, society wouldn’t be what it is now.”

We can’t argue with that one.

Champion also went back to the post office and demanded she be refunded the $22 priority mail fee, according to the Star Tribune. That request was denied.

The judge called her actions disgraceful and declined to return the dog to her.

Dog soils set on “Live with Regis and Kelly”

Beth Ostrosky Stern, wife of Howard Stern, spokeswoman for the North Shore Animal League, and author of a new book that kind of swiped our website’s name, appeared on “Live with Regis and Kelly” yesterday morning.

The author of “Oh My Dog” brought along three dogs — her own, a bulldog named Bianca, and two others, Scooter and Ladybug, who were rescued from the recent Tennessee floods and are up for adoption.

About halfway through Ostrosky Stern’s recitation of summertime tips for dog owners, Scooter urinated on the set’s fake bushes; then a little later Scooter squatted on the artificial grass for his morning constitutional.

It made what was a pretty cut and dried segment a little livelier.

The book, described as a manual for dog owners, has no connection to ohmidog!, the website.

Most reviews of the book have been less than kind, but we won’t go so far as to suggest that what Scooter was expressing was an editorial opinion.

Vet school to cease “terminal surgery labs”

Starting in fall 2010, the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University will no longer use dogs and other healthy, live animals to teach surgical skills.

The college in East Lansing will no longer require “terminal surgery labs” in which animals are killed after being used to practice surgical techniques.

Instead of the controversial labs, the college will use more humane teaching methods, including sophisticated models and animal cadavers — a change that has been initiated at more than half of the 28 other veterinary medical schools in the U.S.

 “We are ecstatic that MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine has made this compassionate change to their curriculum and we hope to work with them in the future to make additional advances such as an ethically sourced cadaver program,” said Mitch Goldsmith, President of MSU Students Promoting Animal Rights (SPAR).

Laura Ducceschi, Director of Animalearn, a national program that provides resources for humane science education, commended MSU for “taking this positive step towards joining the many other prestigious veterinary institutions that have ended terminal surgery labs and replaced them with humane alternatives and shelter medicine programs that benefit students and animals.”

Animalearn, the educational division of the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS), works with educators, students and others to achieve quality humane science education without harmful use of animals.

Both SPAR and Animalearn advocated to end animal use at MSU following revelations of the extent of the university’s use of dogs in Animalearn’s 2009 report, Dying to Learn: Exposing the Supply and Use of Dogs and Cats in Higher Education.

The astounding “animals” of “Avatar”

Contrary to what many, including PETA, might think , animals were used in the making of “Avatar” — but none were harmed, according to the American Humane Association.

“American Humane applauds ‘Avatar’ director James Cameron and the production for earning our highest rating by ensuring the safety of the animals used in the filming,” said Karen Rosa, vice president of American Humane’s Film & TV Unit.

While PETA has recognized the film and its director for using computer-generated images instead of live animals, American Humane says filmmakers also used live animals for motion capture, and explains the process on its website.

“This film was created using motion capture technology, in which performers wear miniature computerized motion sensors near joints and facial areas to capture the movements and facial muscle nuances that occur with each gesture, motion or expression. The live action was performed in a motion capture studio covered in dark fabric and carpet  and then recorded as computer animation data, which was then mapped onto a computerized 3-D model.

“In this technology, humans wear a bodysuit for the ‘capture,’ but animals need to be ‘captured’ differently because of their body shapes, fur and other characteristics. To prepare the animals for having their motion data recorded, trainers shaved small areas of fur or hair where the movements would be recorded, such as near joints and on the face. Velcro pads were attached to the shaved spots with a nontoxic, nonirritating silicone adhesive. White light-reflective balls were placed onto the Velcro to capture the motion data onto the computer. The exception to this was horses’ tails, which were not shaved, but wrapped in a sensor-laden material. The adhesive and any additional markings were washed off each evening after filming ended.

“Throughout the film, horses are seen outdoors standing or being ridden at a walk, canter or gallop. We also see people mounting, dismounting and falling off horses. These scenes were all filmed inside the capture studio. Horses were given ample room to start and stop running. …For scenes in which horses appear to be near fire, trainers cued them to ‘dance’ or act skittish or afraid — the horses were not actually agitated nor were they ever near fire.”

American Humane monitors the use of animals in movies, and, when merited, bestows the trademark “No animals were harmed in the making of this film” certifcation.

American Humane encourages moviemakers to use computer generated images to increase safety.

“If, upon review of the script, American Humane believes there to be any dangerous animal action, American Humane will strongly encourage simulating the action through the use of computer-generated images, animatronics or fake animal doubles to minimize the risk of injury to animals,” the organization’s guidelines state.

Microsoft makes good on dog’s Xbox damage

oscarOscar, the dog who purchased 5,000 Microsoft points while chewing on his owner’s Xbox 360 controller, has been given an official Microsoft membership, and his owner will receive a refund.

Microsoft, proving even a software giant has a soft side when it comes to dogs — or at least knows a good public relations opportunity when it sees one — will be refunding the points, setting Oscar up with his own gamertag and Xbox live subscription, and sending his owner Greg Strope a new controller and some extra points.

The move makes Oscar the service’s first canine member.

A Lab mix, Oscar went after the remote control while his owner slept, somehow managing to turn on the console and purchase 5,000 Microsoft Points for the account of Strope, who had stored his credit card number in the remote.

Strope became aware of the $62.50 transaction whn he received an email confirmation of the purchase from Microsoft.

Yesterday, in an email to ohmidog!, a spokesman for Microsoft said the company is refunding Strope his LIVE points “and providing extra for good measure.

“Plus he will get an extra controller and a LIVE subscription for his dog, Oscar.  We also created a gamertag for Oscar so that he doesn’t feel left out anymore.”