Is it necessary for Washington University to use live cats as part of a medical training program? That question was raised again last week when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released an "undercover video" that gives viewers a look inside the medical school's practice of intubating anesthetized cats. Full footage is below.
"It's incredibly painful," Justin Goodman, director of laboratory investigations with PETA, tells Daily RFT. "Unskilled trainees [shove] hard, plastic tubes down a cat's very delicate throat."
The video evidence, PETA says, reveals that some cats were not even properly anesthetized and began to wake up during the procedure. And the group says that's just one more reason that this practice must end at Wash. U., which may be the only institution that still uses cats for this training.
Wash. U., however, defends the procedure -- arguing that it is proven to be safe for the cats and is a very valuable training method.
Here's the full video from PETA.
The footage comes from a March training exercise at Wash. U.'s Pediatric Advanced Life Support, or PALS, course, which aims to teach participants about treatment for infants and children with impending respiratory failure and cardiopulmonary arrest.
The course, Wash. U. says, is geared toward pediatricians, family physicians, paramedics, nurses, respiratory therapists and other practitioners. It involves intubation training through "simulation mannequins."
And anesthetized cats.
"It's always horrible to see animals suffering," Goodman says. "But it's especially egregious to watch a university torment animals when there are superior methods available to meet their training objectives."
PETA has filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging violations of the Animal Welfare Act as well as complaints with Wash. U. officials and the American Heart Association, which is the sponsor of the PALS course. The documents are on full view below.
A central argument of PETA, outlined in the USDA complaint, is that the American Heart Association makes clear that the practice of using cats is not necessary or preferred. The complaint includes an AHA statement saying, "The AHA does not require or endorse the use of live animals in any of its training courses." And in one e-mail exchange with PETA, an AHA official elaborates:
We do not endorse or require the use of animals during the AHA-PALS training because of advances and availability of simulation mannequins. These mannequins provide the opportunity to practice all the necessary skills required for successful completion of an AHA PALS course.
"If there's a superior method available," Goodman says, "it should be used.... It's a win-win."
Continue for more of PETA's complaints and a full response from Washington University.
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