Frequently Asked Questions
Are colleges and universities using dogs and cats for teaching purposes?
Over half of U.S. public colleges and universities in Animalearn’s investigation use live or dead dogs and cats for teaching and training purposes in life science, veterinary, and medical education. Twenty-six percent of colleges and universities use live dogs and cats as teaching 'tools'. For example, healthy companion animals are used repeatedly for practicing intubationIntubation means placing a tube into an external or internal orifice of the body. Kittens and ferrets are sometimes used to teach tracheal intubation in human medicine, in which a tube is placed into the trachea for mechanical ventilation. killed in surgerySurgery labs, in which otherwise healthy dogs are killed following their use in a teaching a surgical procedure under anesthesia, are called terminal surgeries. Such labs are part of the core curricula or elective courses at various schools of veterinary medicine, and at a few medical schools in the U.S. There are benign ways to do this such as through beneficial surgeries and the use of surgical simulators. practice and in clinical skillsVeterinary students learn clinical skills (emergency and non-emergency) through direct handling of dogs and cats. Dogs and cats are often killed prior to their use in training students in procedures such as fracture repair and chest tube placement. There are more useful ways to teach these skills through programs such as Shelter Medicine and Educational Memorial Programs (EMPs) training; and killed for dissection. In a separate survey of biology departments, 63% of respondents indicated they use cat cadavers to teach anatomy and physiology courses.
Many higher education institutions choose not to use dogs, cats, or other animals in harmful teaching exercises. How do they teach science classes?
There are many humane alternatives that can be used to replace harming dogs, cats, or other animals in order to teach life science, veterinary, and medical education. In life science, such alternatives include ethically-sourcedAnimals obtained for use in teaching or training are considered ethically-sourced when they have died from natural causes or were euthanized due to medical conditions. Animals are not considered ethically sourced when they are obtained from those who profit from their sale, or because of pet overpopulation. animal cadavers, prosected human cadavers, computer software, and realistic modelsRealistic models are replications that can be used in place of dogs, cats, and other animals to teach anatomy and physiology, and are often used in conjunction with computer simulation to offer students a multidimensional learning experience.. Veterinary schools are replacing the harmful use of animals with beneficial and therapeutic programs such as Shelter MedicineShelter Medicine is the practice by which veterinary students gain surgical experience by performing supervised spay and neuter surgeries and/or by treating animals from shelters or low-income communities., and are obtaining animal cadavers ethically from client donations and Educational Memorial Programs (EMPs)Educational Memorial Programs (EMPs) are designed to accept the bodies of animals donated to the university because they have died of natural causes or they have been humanely euthanized due to medically untreatable illness, or clients' inability to pay for expensive treatments. EMPs are prevalent in Veterinary Medicine, and are also part of some undergraduate life science programs. Medical schools also have EMPs that collect donated cadavers of deceased humans. . They are also using mannikinsMannikins are interactive learning tools that can facilitate training in animal handling, blood sampling, intubation, thoracentesis, CPR techniques, and other clinical skills. and surgical simulators. See Appendix B for extensive resources on Alternatives. Medical education utilizes human cadavers, mannikins, and medical simulation.
Where do higher education institutions obtain dogs and cats that are used in education?
Unfortunately, many dogs and cats, likely former pets, are taken from pounds and shelters and used in research and education through a process called Pound SeizurePound Seizure is the sale or release of cats and dogs from a pound or shelter to a research, testing or educational facility.. Others are obtained from Class B Random SourceUSDA-licensed Class B Random Source dealers collect animals from random sources, including shelters and pounds, free to a good home ads, auctions, and other venues, while raking in tens of thousands of dollars. These dealers sell animals to colleges and universities, research labs, and other facilities. dealers, Biological SupplyBiological Supply companies are regulated by the USDA as Class B dealers, and make up a multi-million dollar industry that profits from the sale of live animals for classroom vivisection, as well as animal cadavers, including those of companion animals, for the purpose of classroom dissection and related activities. companies, and Class AUSDA-licensed Class A dealers meet the definition of dealer and breed animals for sale. dealers.
Why should Congress outlaw Class B random source dealers?
Class B random source dealers have track records showing repeat violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) sets minimal standards of care and use for specific animals used in research, education, zoos, etc., and it requires animal brokers to be licensed as Class A or Class B dealers and facilities operated by them to be inspected by the agency. The AWA regulates the care and use of animals supplied and used in laboratories and other industries. The AWA requires Class B dealers to hold acquired animals for 10 days before selling them to another dealer or research institution to allow guardians time to find lost or stolen animals. The AWA is enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).. Random source Class B dealers have long been a source of concern for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a federal agency who is charged with overseeing the operations of animal dealer. Although there are only 10 Class B random source animal dealers currently in business (compared to over 100 in the early 1990s), they are each inspected four times a year because they are considered high risk for potential violations. This puts a disproportionate drain on USDA resources, which are funded with taxpayer dollars. Further adding to the questionable nature of Class B random source animal dealers activity is the USDA’s own admission in its 2007 Animal Welfare Report that “some of these dealers may be trafficking in stolen animals.” As an industry that is marred in unethical activity, the federal government must step in to stop this practice by preventing the purchase or use of random source animals in education or research.
What is pound seizure?
Pound seizure is the sale or release of cats and dogs from a pound or shelter to a research, testing or educational facility. Three states in the U.S.—Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah—still legally require that publicly funded shelters and pounds provide dogs and/or cats to institutions for research, testing, or educational purposes, and other states allow it. Several states have no law either way. Federal law requires that shelters hold animals for at least five days before releasing them to animal dealers or directly to laboratories or universities.
Is there pound seizure in my state?
States vary in their oversight of the sale and acquisition of animals, including those used in research and education. Click here to learn if your state has a ban on pound seizure.
How do lost pets end up in research and teaching laboratories?
Some higher education institutions obtain animals directly from pounds. In addition, Class B random source animal dealers obtain dogs and cats from pounds and shelters and supply them to research and teaching labs. In Animalearn’s investigation tracing dogs and cats from pounds to Class B dealers to universities, there were several examples where individual dogs, many picked up as strays, were wearing specific types of collars, indicating that the dog was likely from a private family. One particular example is Cruella, a dog described as wearing a purple collar and thus likely had been someone’s pet, who was killed in a teaching lab. Biological Supply Companies also have contracts with some pounds and shelters to purchase euthanized dogs and cats.
If animals are to be used in research or education, isn’t it better to use animals who would be euthanized anyway?
Euthanasia of animals in shelters and pounds is the tragic result of an array of societal conditions, including irresponsible animal breeding and overpopulation. Research and education industries should not exploit this unfortunate reality. The primary mission of shelters or pounds is to provide a safe haven for companion animals who have been given up or are lost. However, when animals are sold, including those who have been euthanized, it provides a conflict of interests. While that can occur anywhere, the risk is probably most evident when we consider that some educational facilities are obtaining dead cats from Mexico, a country struggling with poverty and equipped with inefficient regulations. Additionally, some shelters are required by pound seizure laws to provide animals to research and are not given the opportunity to try to find an appropriate family home for an animal. Common sense indicates that the most desirable animals for research or educational purposes would be healthy, and well-behaved. These are the same qualities that deem an animal ‘adoptable.’
Isn't it okay to use shelter animals so that veterinary students can learn surgical or other medical skills?
While it is important that future veterinarians and veterinary technicians acquire the proper skills to perform surgeries or other medical procedures, the use of animals from pounds or shelters is entirely unnecessary. Furthermore, use of shelter animals for such purposes erodes the public’s trust that a relinquished animal will be cared for and be given safe haven. Many veterinary schools use real–life patients in their teaching hospitals. Models and other non–lethal ways of training students are also used. Additionally, many vet students gain surgical experience as a community service by performing supervised spay and neuter surgeries on animals from shelters or low-income communities. Some schools have also instituted educational memorial programs, through which clients can donate their deceased companion animal for use in teaching.
What should I do if I don't want to dissect animals or take part in a live animal lab?
Contact Animalearn for information on dissection, student rights, and humane education, and ask about our free alternatives to dissection loan program, The Science Bank [www.animalearn.org]. Armed with this information, talk to your teacher or professor to discuss incorporating the use of alternatives in your course work. LINK to student toolkit.
What is The Science Bank?
The Science Bank is a free lending library, operated by Animalearn, that offers non-animal dissection alternatives and humane education materials. Over 450 alternatives are available and include CD-ROMs, models, charts, and life like manikins, many of which are available in multiple quantities to outfit entire classrooms.
Do dissection alternatives provide a sound learning experience?
The enormous growth of The Science Bank is proof of the growing popularity of dissection alternatives. However, our program is also backed by teachers, students, and parents alike who have praised the use of alternatives available through The Science Bank, as well as Animalearn’s humane education materials.
How do I implement a student choice policy?
If you wish to try and implement a student choice policyStudent choice policies and laws require schools to notify students and/or their parents at the beginning of a course when animal dissection is part of its curriculum. They are intended to allow students the right to choose humane alternatives, without being penalized for doing so. While some student choice policies are part of a formal protocol, many are informal, making it more difficult to keep students aware of their rights. at your school, contact Animalearn for assistance. You will also want to talk to other students, as well as teachers, department chairs, and deans, to garner support and add credibility to your efforts. Click here for more information.
What colleges and universities have student choice policies?
For a list of schools that have student choice policies, click here.
What is an educational memorial program (EMP) and how can I implement one in my college or university?
Educational memorial programs (EMPs) are designed to accept the bodies of animals who have been humanely euthanized due to medically untreatable illness, clients' inability to pay for expensive treatments, or death due to natural causes, and are donated to the university hospital. EMPs save animal lives as they are becoming more prevalent in all levels of higher education, including undergraduate life science programs, and have proved to be extremely cost effective. Medical schools also have EMPs that collect donated cadavers of deceased humans. Contact Animalearn for information on how to implement an EMP at your school.
I am a student in grades K-12. What is a student choice policy or law and does my state have one?
There are currently 10 states that have student choice laws, and 5 states that have student choice policies. Click here to see if your state has enacted a student choice policy or law. State laws and policies regarding student choice only cover public school students in grades K-12. Student choice provisions require schools to notify students and/or their parents at the beginning of a course when animal dissection is part of its curriculum. They are intended to allow students the right to choose humane alternatives, without being penalized for doing so.
I am a college university student. What is a student choice policy and does my college/university have one?
A student choice policy is one way for students to establish their right to choose an alternative to using animals in education at their college or university. A formal student choice policy is written, and can be either university-wide or departmental. An informal, or unwritten, student choice policy is sometimes known only through word of mouth, making it more difficult to keep students aware of their rights. Click here to see if your college or university has enacted a student choice policy.
What is Animalearn and how does it help students?
Animalearn focuses on facilitating humane science education without using animals. We are dedicated to assisting educators, students, and their families to find the most effective non-animal methods to teach and study science. To this end, Animalearn has established The Science Bank, our lending program of new and innovative life science software and educational products that enable educators and students to learn anatomy, physiology, and psychology lessons without harming animals, themselves, or the Earth. Animalearn also provides humane education curricula and materials free of charge for educators and students.
What is the mission of the American Anti-Vivisection Society?
The mission of the American Anti-Vivisection Society is to unequivocally oppose and work to end experimentation on animals and to oppose all other forms of cruelty to animals. To learn more about our important work, please visit www.aavs.org.