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Tag: use

Family seeks to halt use of cyanide traps

caseyandcanyon

An Idaho family has launched an online petition aimed at outlawing the government’s use of cyanide traps like the one that sent their son to the hospital and claimed the life of their dog last month.

The devices are used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in remote areas to control predators by exposing them to a blast of cyanide gas.

Canyon Mansfield, 14, was knocked to the ground last month when a cyanide trap, also known as an M-44, spewed cyanide gas into his face and killed his dog, Casey, within seconds.

Although the government has said the devices are only planted with the permission of property owners — and only after neighbors are warned — the Mansfield family says it had no knowledge of the device, installed about 350 yards from their home.

canyonmansfieldSince the March 16 incident, Canyon has experienced headaches, nausea and numbness and has visited a neurologist for testing, his parents say.

The USDA maintains the devices help resolve conflict between wildlife and people in the safest and most humane ways possible, but “the nature of the cyanide bomb is neither safe nor humane,” Canyon’s father, Mark Mansfield, a doctor in Pocatello, wrote in an online
petition.

“Cyanide gas has been used throughout history to murder masses of people,” he said.

The M-44s, also known as “coyote-getters,” are designed to lure animals who smell their bait. When an animal tugs on the device, a spring-loaded metal cylinder fires sodium cyanide powder into its mouth.

Over the years, thousands of non-target animals — wild and domestic — have been mistakenly killed by the lethal devices.

Four conservation and animal-welfare groups announced Tuesday they are suing the Trump administration for “failing to protect endangered species from two deadly pesticides used to kill coyotes and other native carnivores.”

“Cyanide bombs are indiscriminate killers,” said Collette Adkins, an attorney and biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“In just the past several weeks they’ve injured a child and killed an endangered wolf and several family dogs. These dangerous pesticides need to be banned, but until then, they shouldn’t be used where they can hurt people or kill family pets and endangered wildlife,” Adkins said.

The government, meanwhile, has called the accidental death of family pets from M-44s a “rare occurrence,” and said Wildlife Services posts signs and issues other warnings to alert pet owners when traps are placed near their homes.

(Photos by the Mansfield family)

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.”

Utah labs cease use of shelter animals

The University of Utah has announced that it will no longer purchase dogs and cats from North Utah Valley Animal Shelter (NUVAS) — or any other animal shelter — for use in medical experiments.

The decision was praised by PETA, which has waged a lengthy campaign against the practice.

“PETA is thrilled for the dogs, cats and people of Utah now that the University of Utah has stopped using animal shelters as dirt-cheap sources of living lab equipment, marking the complete end of pound seizure in the state,’’ said Kathy Guillermo, PETA’s vice president for laboratory investigations.

Until last year, animal shelters in Utah were required to sell cats and dogs in their custody to the university under a practice known as pound seizure. A change in state law made it voluntary for shelters to participate. The North Utah Valley Animal Shelter, however, continued to supply animals for research in the belief that it was helping to ease human suffering and advance medical knowledge.

NUVAS sold the university about 100 dogs and cats a year, Director Tug Gettling told the Salt Lake City Tribune.

The practice, over the years, saw hundreds of former pets and strays sacrificed for purposes of medical experimentation — though not all that were used in experiments were killed.  Last year, a pet owner who turned her dog, Sheena (above) over to the shelter was shocked to learn — when she called to see if she had been adopted — that the dog had been sold to the university for experimentation. Later, with help from PETA, she launched a successful campaign to get the dog back from the university and into an adoptive home.

According to the Tribune, the decades-old practice of buying animals from shelters was halted by the university in mid-January.

Thomas Parks, the university’s vice president for research, said the decision was aimed at bringing an end to the campaign against the shelter by animal welfare advocates. Parks said the university will instead obtain dogs bred for laboratory use by certified breeders — a costlier but less controversial method.

PETA’s Guillermo said she hoped the added cost of specially bred animals would lead the university to seek alternatives to using live animals in its experiments.

Parks said employees at the non-profit municipal shelter “have been suffering a lot of harassment” and that the shelter has received thousands of hostile emails and phone calls, several bomb threats and at least three public protests.

A Salt Lake Tribune investigation a year ago found that about 60 percent of all shelter animals the shelter provided to the university between 2007 and 2009 were killed after being experimented on, while the rest entered an adoption program.