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18 March 2001 Issue
Veterinary School Accepts Award From Animal Rights Group

from Weirforanl@aol.com 

Curriculum Change Loudly Applauded by All Animal Protectionists

Davis, Ca AVAR, a national animal rights organization, is recognizing the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine (UC Davis) for its decision to eliminate terminal (non-survival) surgeries in its core teaching curriculum. This public recognition comes in the form of a cash merit reward of $1000 to provide additional alternative teaching programs. The revised surgical training program for third-year students expands surgical training in neuter procedures of dogs and cats and eliminates three terminal surgical exercises.

"The new surgery curriculum is a big step forward for UC Davis," said Ned Buyukmihci, VMD, president of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights and a professor of ophthalmology at the veterinary school. "Terminal surgeries, which involve the killing of healthy animals from shelters in order to train veterinary students, has been a highly contentious issue for many years with a growing number of veterinary students and animal protectionists. UC Davis has now become one of the top few schools in the country to take progressive steps to improve its curriculum by eliminating harmful surgical training practices for its required courses. We are also encouraged by the fact that UC Davis plans to eliminate terminal surgeries in its elective courses, as well," he added.

The earlier curriculum involved three live animal surgeries after which the students euthanized the animals. Students would do six more live animal surgeries involving spays and castrations. These dogs and cats were from five regional animal shelters and were returned to the shelters for adoption. Over the past nine years more than 85% of these animals have been adopted. The revised curriculum will involve only survival surgeries. All animals will be returned for adoption.

Terminal surgeries have become an ethical dilemma for a growing number of veterinary students at UC Davis and at other veterinary medical schools. To that end, Tufts University's School of Veterinary Medicine recently eliminated all terminal surgeries in its required and elective courses. Veterinary schools at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Florida, Cornell University, and University of Wisconsin have also eliminated terminal surgeries in their required surgical curriculum. UC Davis now joins this list. "These changes reflect a growing awareness in our society that animals' lives are important and that people care what happens to them," said Teri Barnato, AVAR's national director.

"The school has offered an alternative to terminal surgery training for a decade," said John R. Pascoe, Executive Associate Dean at the School. "Because students already receive some surgical exposure on cadavers in surgical anatomy, the faculty has decided to eliminate the terminal surgical exercises and replace them with more survival surgical experiences. This accomplishes appropriate training in anesthesia and surgery, increases opportunities for adoption of shelter animals and eliminates student
concerns," he added. "As academically sound alternatives are being developed we are also replacing terminal surgical exercises in elective courses."

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