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December 13, 2011 at 9:00 AMComments: 5 Faves: 0

Cats No Longer Used in This Science Class

By Bri Luginbill More Blogs by This Author

Hello, The Scratchpad here. It’s that time this week to explore the depths of the cat health news world. Today, I bring you breaking news in the world of animal rights!

In grade school, I remember hearing stories of friends that dissected a dead frog and even a dead cat in their science class. However, all these animals had died of natural causes. The only thing I dissected was a worm. Oh, and my class got to hold a sheep’s eye. Everyone thought that was pretty cool. But, like I said, these animals were dead from factors of nature.

A Survival Flight class at the University of Michigan helps train nurses what to do to help a patient survive. This class used live cats to simulate infants. Cats' windpipes were used to simulate how to open up the airway. Pigs were also used as simulators for their lungs.

Many animal rights activists including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA) argued that the use of live cats in unethical. PETA said they had been fighting for over a year for cats to stop being used in these simulations.

University of Michigan said they continued to use cats because their robotic simulators were not yet up to par. There had to be more work done on them and once there was they would stop using cats. However, PETA believes their robotic simulators were advanced enough.

PETA continued to push the issue and released a statement on December 8, 2011 about the procedures on cats,

“During the U-M labs, cats obtained from R&R have hard plastic tubes repeatedly forced down their delicate windpipes, which is painful and puts the animals at risk for serious injuries. Most of the cats are then killed.”

University of Michigan came back with this information in reply to PETA’s statements,

“…the correct information is that from 2002 through July 2011, of the 23 cats used in training, seven were euthanized and the remaining 16 cats were adopted into new homes. The cats were adopted out whenever possible, but medical conditions, behavioral problems or the inability to find a new home prevented some adoptions.”

A day after PETA released their statement that they believed “exposed” U of M procedures, U of M made a statement that they would no longer use live cats as simulators!

Brian Fowlkes, University of Michigan’s Executive Director said it had nothing to do with PETA’s allegations,

“Simulators have reached the point where we can actually make substitutions. You're always looking at the situation to determine what’s going on. It wasn’t a direct response to the PETA activities. ... We made the switch based on the evolution of the simulators.

Like I said above, animal lovers and activists everywhere will be happy by this news. The University will still use live pigs for 1.5 hours in the 160 hour training program. In the overall picture only using animals for 1.5 hours of out of 160 is a pretty good accomplishment for animal rights. But, PETA doesn't seem to think so. They believe people should write and ask to eliminate all animal use in these training procedures.

What do you think? Should all animal testing be eliminated?
Why or why not?


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  • I would rather have the nurse that is trying to not let me die have training on an actual living being not a machine. Just sayin.

  • I am sick to my stomach and can't stand these type of testings or experiments....I think Dayton would change his mind if he saw pictures of what and how they do this....

    Thanks, but I will take my chances on someone that hasn't been trained on a live animal...if it is my time it is my time....Just sayin'.....

  • Let's see here, a University that regularly leads the nation in medical research and technologies wants to use animals, that were more than likely going to be euthanized at an over-populated shelter in Ann Arbor anyway, to further the capability of our future health care providers in emergency/survival situations; versus an organization that enjoys throwing red paint on people as a mode of communicating philosophical thought. Come on PETA, read a newspaper, see that Iran is on the hunt for nuclear arms and threatening to cut our oil supply, see the protestors in the streets, look at how much your milk costs, there is a storm coming and we had all better be prepared. Thank you U of M, for making the choices that will save lives and allow our society to survive in a time that is so very unpredictable.

  • I see both points on this issue. I see where it can be good to learn of a live animal. And I see how it could be a breach of animal rights.

    I know at the university I attended, people volunteer to be used as live subjects in classes...because I was a volunteer. But the things that I volunteered for were radiology classes where they would use an ultrasound to find different organs and the other one I had to pretend to be a patient with a certain condition and the nursing and doctor students had to figure out my condition. I didn't get a tube put down my throat.

    Also, people are able to choose to be subjects in training classes or not. However, animals can't really voice their opinion. So I see where Victoria and PETA are coming from.

    Now did U of M intend to hurt these animals? Definitely not. They were using them as subjects for learning life saving techniques. Even in the information above out of ALL cats used between 2002 to 2011, only 7 were euthanized. Only 7 in 9 years? That's pretty amazing. But then again on the other side, I see PETA's point too...any number of cats being euthanized can be unfortunate.

    So it's a tough call. Where do we draw the line? We want people that could possibly save our lives one day to be trained well. But we don't want animals to be hurt. And are robotic simulators really just as good as a live subject?

  • It's tough call morally speaking for sure. How do we weigh the value of a non-human animal life against our own? How do we weigh the value of a non-human animal's life against another type of non-human animal? I think the real issue the public takes with this is that it was cats in particular that were being used. Recently, though it had been traditionally accepted, the eating of cat was outlawed in China. Cats and dogs are special among all non-human animals. Long ago we domesticated them and bred them to be companions to us. We think of them as members of our families. Though they are intelligent, they are dependent on us. However, while I don't think most people like the idea of any animal being tested on and killed, most of us also weigh the lives of our fellow species over the lives of another. We don't want inexperienced nurses working on our friends or family members and making a fatal mistake because of it. But does it NEED to be done on cats? Can't we at least do testing on the animals we are already raising to be killed for food?

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