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Executive SummaryA new report, entitled “Dying to Learn: Exposing the Supply and Use of Dogs and Cats in Higher Education”, authored by Animalearn, the education division of AAVS, documents the hidden practices of higher education in which dogs and cats are needlessly used, and often killed, for dissection and live surgeries in college and university teaching laboratories.
“Dying to Learn” is the result of a two-year investigation of animal acquisition and use at 92 public colleges and universities in the U.S., which are partially financed with taxpayer funds. Fifty-two percent of these colleges and universities are using live and dead dogs and cats for teaching and training purposes in life science, veterinary, and medical education. Many healthy animals are killed specifically for students to use, even though there are viable alternatives available that are being used by other schools.
Colleges and universities across the country are obtaining animals through pound seizure, a process in which animals, who were once people’s pets, are acquired from shelters for use in research and/or educational purposes. Many people in the United States have strong bonds with companion animals such as dogs and cats and want to see them treated humanely in our society. With the current economic and foreclosure crisis causing homeowners across the country to lose their homes, the numbers of pets being relinquished to shelters is drastically increasing, putting more former pets at risk.
Many colleges and universities are purchasing dogs and cats from Class B dealers, who collect animals from random sources, including shelters and pounds, misleading ads, auctions, and other venues. Many random source class B dealers are shrouded by animal mistreatment and cruelty, and have repeatedly violated the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which regulates the care and use of animals supplied and used in laboratories and other industries. Despite these problems, total earnings of licensed random source dealers exceeded three million dollars for the period examined.
Random source Class B dealers have long been a source of concern for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agency charged with overseeing their operations. USDA inspects dealers according to a risk-based system. The agency considers random source Class B dealers high risk and thus, these specific dealers are inspected four times a year. The increased staff time required for these investigations puts a drain on USDA resources, which are funded with taxpayer dollars. Further adding to the questionable nature of Class B dealer activity is the USDA’s own admission in its 2007 Animal Welfare Report that “some of these dealers may be trafficking in stolen animals.” In addition to pound seizure and random source Class B dealers, college and universities obtain dogs and cats for use in education from other sources, such as biological supply companies and Class A dealers. Both biological supply companies, who sell live and preserved animals, and Class A dealers, who breed animals on their premises, have also been cited for numerous violations.
The harmful use of companion animals is unnecessary. Studies show that students learn as well or better through humane alternatives. Many colleges and universities have already replaced the harmful use of dogs and cats with cost-effective humane alternatives and/or therapeutic uses of animals, such as beneficial shelter medicine programs, ethically sourced animal cadavers, virtual dissection, and technologically advanced surgical simulations. Some colleges and universities have Student Choice Policies in place to allow students the right to choose a humane alternative to harmful animal use, and No Random Source Animals Policies that prohibit the acquisition of animals from Class B dealers.
“Dying to Learn: Exposing the Supply and Use of Dogs and Cats in Higher Education” provides detailed pedagogically sound solutions for college and university educators and administrators who wish to end the harm to dogs, cats, and other animals in education, and offers a Student Toolkit which assists students who are wishing to make their campus more humane.
Visit Dyingtolearn.org for more information and to download the report.
Animalearn, the educational division of the American Anti-Vivisection Society, works with educators, students and others to achieve quality humane science education without harmful use of animals. Visit www.animalearn.org.