Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NY Medical College will stop using live dogs in labs

I’m a dog-lover, so this article that I found on the Chronicle of Higher Education news blog made me happy. Officials from New York Medical College, the only medical college in the state to still use live animals for instruction in labs, have said that they will stop using dogs for study. Previously, students used the dogs to study the heart and the college’s president, Karl Adler, explained why:

“The reason why the dogs were used in the past is that the students could actually see a beating heart, and understand the physiology of how the heart works. It’s the only internal organ where there’s actually movement that you can understand the physiology of.”

High-tech advancements have been made that allows students to study the heart without cutting open dogs. One method that will be used is that the students will be able to attach electrodes to each other’s chests and watch video of how their hearts work. Another method is the use of simulators to imitate cardiac arrest or the effects of certain drugs. Protest from students, animal-rights groups and politicans also factored into the college's decision to stop using dogs. The article doesn't mention whether dogs were the only live animals used in the labs, or if other live animals will continued to be used as well.

I had no idea that some colleges still used live animals in teaching labs, especially dogs. I love the furry creatures, so it saddened me to read this and think about all those who had been used before this college made its decision. It also upsets me to think about those creatures, dogs or otherwise, that will still be killed in the 11 medical colleges in the U.S. that still use live animals. I know animal testing has been a big part of the advancements made in medicine, and that without it I probably wouldn't be here today, but I feel using live animals in teaching labs is wrong.

I’ve never been much for dissection and such things like that, but at least those animals I had to poke and prod in high school were already dead. I’m sure the dogs must be anesthetized when they cut them open, but still. I can’t imagine having to cut open a live dog to watch its heart beat. Yuck.

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