Bob Barker -- yes, Bob Barker -- is pressuring Washington University in St. Louis to end its controversial practice of using live cats in medical-school training classes.
"I love cats. I love all animals," the television host tells Daily RFT in a phone interview. "It's upsetting to me.... There's no reason for them to be doing this."
As part of his plea to Wash. U., he's offering $75,000 to fund an alternative method that uses simulation mannequins instead of cats, which animal rights activists say are tortured during the procedure.
Will that price be right?
Barker, who attended high school and college in Springfield, sent a letter to the chancellor of Wash. U. yesterday urging the university to end the practice of using live cats altogether.
His push comes less than a week after the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released an undercover video inside the medical school's Pediatric Advanced Life Support course, which teaches medical procedures involving sick and injured infants and children.
Wash. U. uses live cats that PETA argues are not properly anesthetized (the video quotes one individual saying that the cat was waking up during the course). Part of the course involves intubation training -- sticking tubes down the cats' throats -- that PETA says is cruel and dangerous.
"I've worked on behalf of animals...all over the world," Barker tells us, "and I shall continue to do so, because they can't speak for themselves and need all the help I can give them."
PETA's argument, which Barker raises in his letter, on view below, is that the alternative training with simulators is proven to be more effective. And it seems Wash. U. is the only institution in the country that still uses the live-cat method. PETA has filed complaints with the Department of Agriculture and the American Heart Association, which sponsors the course.
"When you're the only one in the United States doing it, you must be making a mistake," says Barker, who hosted the game show The Price Is Right and has been a vocal animal-rights activist.
His letter begins on a personal note:
Having grown up in Missouri and having interrupted my wife's pre-med training at Washington University in St. Louis by proposing to her, I was deeply troubled to see PETA's new undercover video showing that Washington University--in conjunction with St. Louis Children's Hospital--continues to allow Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) course trainees to practice on animals. This crude training exercise consists of repeatedly forcing hard tubes down the cats' delicate throats, an extremely painful procedure that places these animals at risk for serious injuries--and for no good reason. Far superior teaching methods exist that can run circles around that old-fashioned cat lab. I would like to work with you to end this practice.
Continue for more of our interview with Bob Barker, for Wash. U.'s response and for PETA's video
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