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No Need to Kill to Learn to Heal in Vet School

Knight A. No need to kill to learn how to heal. Courier Mail (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia). 7th Aug. 2008: 37.

Dear Editor,

As a competent and successful veterinary surgeon - who trained without harming any animals - I was disappointed to see the University of Queensland once again claim that veterinary surgical training requires killing healthy pound dogs. This is, of course, grossly incorrect. Numerous competent, practicing veterinarians, including at least one surgical specialist, have completed their training without killing any animals. We learn by practicing on models, cadavers of animals euthanized for medical reasons and donated for teaching (similar to human 'body donation' programs), and -- most importantly -- by assisting with beneficial surgeries on real patients, similar to the training of physicians. Animal shelter sterilisation programs play a major role. I helped establish such a program in 2000, when I was a veterinary surgical student in Perth. I gained around five times the surgical experience of my classmates who killed animals.

Nine academic studies have been published to date, comparing the surgical skills of veterinary students trained using humane teaching methods, to those achieved by harmful animal use. Three demonstrated superior learning outcomes, five demonstrated equivalent learning outcomes, and only one demonstrated inferior learning outcomes using more humane alternatives.

The relevant scientific Code of Practice -- which is legally-enforceable - clearly states that animals may be used for teaching, only if no suitable alternatives exist. Accordingly, killing healthy animals in veterinary education is educationally unnecessary, ethically inexcusable, and technically illegal.

Dr. Andrew Knight

Veterinarian

London

UK

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