Today’s Veterinary Business Staff
The Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine is defending its use of shelter animals to teach surgical and euthanasia procedures to students.
Tuskegee reported March 26 that the “animal-rights community” had questioned the university’s “habit of purchasing or self-selecting adoptable dogs from local animal pounds for terminal experimentation.”
The university responded in a prepared statement that its policies are legal, “state and federally regulated” and similar to the practices of other U.S. veterinary medical schools.
“Our use of animals to prepare the next generation of veterinary practitioners is endorsed by many professional and industry groups that regulate our use of animals as part of our teaching efforts,” said the college’s dean, Ruby Perry, DVM, MS, DACVR. “These groups, as well as schools of veterinary medicine across the country, regard this type of surgical experience essential to preparing skilled, future veterinarians.”
Tuskegee noted that the shelter animals it occasionally procures “have exceeded the holding periods these facilities provide” and that “when these animal-holding facilities find it necessary to euthanize its unclaimed, impounded animals, they contact the college, which in turn carries out the scheduled euthanasia at no charge to the facility or compensation to the university.”
Any shelter animals used for surgical instruction are “fully anesthetized” and the veterinary students are “under the direct supervision of the college’s surgical faculty,” the university added.
“The unfortunate fact is that every year in the U.S., there are over 6.5 million dogs and cats in animal shelters,” Tuskegee stated. “Of this number, over 65 percent are euthanized after being held for seven to 10 days without being adopted or finding a new owner.”
The college also pointed to an American Veterinary Medical Association policy “that animals have an important role in research, testing and education for continued improvement of human and animal health and welfare” and that “humane care of animals used in research, testing, and education is an integral part of those activities.”