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WIN! Live Labs Gone From Wisconsin Med College, For Now

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UPDATE: After A Sordid History Of Dog And Pig Labs, MCW Announces Animal-Free Courses

6/5/12 - Medical College of Wisconsin’s 2012-2013 physiology curriculum will contain no live animals! Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine, a key organization to contest the cruel labs, says it will monitor university claims since MCW "retained the option to reinstitute animal use in later years."

Kinship Circle, together with PCRM and others, logged lots of objections to MCW animal labs. In one drill, students observed pulse fluctuations in a dog connected to a computer. They exposed the dog's heart with scalpels and bone saws, injected chemicals, and shocked the heart with electrical paddles. When done, dogs were killed with high-dose potassium. The school actually kept "spares" close by, in case a dog died before the exercise ended.

Kinship Circle letters pressured MCW’s Dean and Physiology Chair to replace animals with cost-effective and relevant nonanimal tools. Students who gain knowledge in animal labs have to "unlearn" results in real life. Incision pressure varies between species. Size, location, texture and elasticity of internal organs are also incongruous. Each species is so diverse — animal studies have endangered humans with misleading data.

But rather than update to no-animal methods, MCW substituted dogs with pigs. Persistent demands prompted MCW to stop pig use and try a computer-based system. Still, the school used rabbits, frogs and rats in procedures… We are on standby in case MCW backslides!

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Dear Dean Dunn and Dr. Cowley,

Two decades ago, medical schools enlisted dogs for the study of physiology, pharmacology, and surgery. Today, only Louisiana State University, New York Medical College and Medical College of Wisconsin offer live dog labs. Of 125 medical schools accredited by the Association of American Medical Colleges, at least 100 no longer use any nonhuman species to train medical students.

I respectfully ask Medical College of Wisconsin to terminate its old-fashioned dog labs. I urge you to replace all animal experiments with human-focused teaching tools.

In a lab drill that recently concluded, students work with anesthetized and intubated dogs during a five-hour procedure. They connect a shaved dog to a computer via intravenous probes and observe the animal's pulse. They then expose the dog's heart, using scalpels and bone saws, to inject chemicals, shock the heart with electrical paddles, and maneuver it by hand. Upon completion, each of 52 dogs is killed with a high dose of potassium. The school actually keeps spare dogs in stock, in case lab dogs die before their ordeal ends.

Obvious humane concerns have prompted the discovery of scientific systems to replace animal models entirely. Non-animal tools are typically more cost-effective and supply data relevant to human health questions and educational needs. Trauma training, for example, is now generally conducted with simulators that are less expensive than animal studies and crafted to emulate key facets of patient care. Human simulators, unlike dogs, let students learn at their own pace and repeat procedures as many times as necessary.

Students who gain knowledge in dog labs, on the other hand, have to "unlearn" results down the road. Incision pressure varies between dogs and humans. Size, location, texture and elasticity of internal organs are also vastly in incongruous. In fact, each species is so diverse in terms of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and genetics—animal studies have endangered humans with misleading data. Certainly, one-time practice on a dog is irrelevant at best.

Moreover, researchers cannot separate the effects of stress hormones in animals from the disease, drug or surgery under analysis. Findings published in Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science (Autumn 2004) reveal animals display quantifiable stress reactions to routine laboratory practices. These stress effects can influence the researcher's understanding of scientific discovery.

Finally, the issue of "random source" dogs deserves your serious consideration. Ken Schroeder, the USDA Random Source Class B Animal Dealer who supplies the College with dogs, has been cited 16 times for failure to permit inspectors onto his property. USDA records attest to Schroeder's ailing animals and shoddy sheltering conditions.

With the multitude of viable non-animal research options now available, animal experimentation is simply no longer warranted.

Thank you,

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Medical College of Wisconsin
Michael J. Dunn, Dean
8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226
ph: 414-456-8213
spacer Medical College of Wisconsin
Allen W. Cowley Jr., Ph.D., Chair of Physiology
9701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226
ph: 414-456-8277

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