Starting in fall 2010, The College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) at Michigan State University (MSU) will no longer require terminal surgery labs to teach veterinary students. Terminal surgery labs use healthy animals, particularly dogs, to practice surgical skills, after which the animals are killed.
Ending terminal surgery labs and replacing them with more humane teaching methods allows MSU to join the majority of the 28 other veterinary medical schools in the U.S. that no longer include terminal surgeries in their required curriculum. Instead of the controversial labs, MSU’s CVM will use sophisticated models, animal cadavers, and an increased number of spay and neuter operations which benefit animals at shelters.
Mitch Goldsmith, President of MSU Students Promoting Animal Rights (SPAR) commented, “We are ecstatic that MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine has made this compassionate change to their curriculum and we hope to work with them in the future to make additional advances such as an ethically sourced cadaver program."
Laura Ducceschi, Director of Animalearn, a national program that provides resources for humane science education, added, “Animalearn commends MSU for taking this positive step towards joining the many other prestigious veterinary institutions that have ended terminal surgery labs and replaced them with humane alternatives and shelter medicine programs that benefit students and animals.”
Both SPAR and Animalearn advocated to end harmful animal use at MSU following revelations of the extent of the university’s use of dogs in Animalearn’s 2009 report, Dying to Learn: Exposing the Supply and Use of Dogs and Cats in Higher Education.
In November 2009, SPAR met with the CVM Dean and the MSU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to discuss the Dying to Learn report, which exposed the use of dogs and cats in teaching labs at colleges and universities across the U.S., including Michigan State. At the invitation of SPAR, Animalearn presented Dying to Learn’s findings and recommendations to students and others at a lecture at the CVM on November 11, 2009.
Dying to Learn also reports the misconduct and animal mistreatment associated with many animal dealers that sell dogs and cats to colleges and universities. At the November presentation, Animalearn noted that while records show that MSU purchases animals from Covance, a Class A dealer, which is an animal breeder, the university had already stopped purchasing animals from the more controversial Class B dealers that collect animals from random sources, including shelters and pounds, ‘free to good home’ ads, auctions, and other venues.
For previous coverage of the issue, see November 11, 2009 article from MSU newspaper: