Veterinary Technology Program Leads in Humane Animal Use

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Veterinary Technology Program Leads in Humane Animal Use

By Amanda Woodruff on
May 2009

This academic year marks what should be the last year of purchasing purpose-bred animals for educational use by the University of Cincinnati, said Jennifer Wells, director of veterinary technology at Raymond Walters College.

For several years, the university purchased dogs and cats from dealers, three in particular: Marshall Farms, Covance and Harlan Sprague Dawley. These dealers are legal operations that breed or obtain animals for educational and biomedical research.

The United States Department of Agriculture cited Marshall Farms for unsanitary conditions in 2005. That same year, UC bought 20 dogs from the dealer, according to a recent study conducted by the American Anti-Vivisection Society.

“We rely a lot on what the USDA says,” said Rob Anderson, senior analyst of research at UC’s Institution Animal Care and Use Committee. “We have a continued relationship with them and trust them.”

In the next two years, Marshall Farms received more citations for inadequate healthcare, including unclean cages, necropsy of puppies and dogs covered in blood after a nail trimming. Scott Marshall, president of Marshall Farms, was unavailable for comment.

UC also purchased 21 dogs from Covance in 2004 and 34 dogs in 2006, the same year the dealer was cited by the USDA for temperatures exceeding 90 degrees.

“These businesses are really making a profit,” said Nicole Green, associate director of education at AAVS (American Anti-Vivisection Society). “It is a profit-driven industry. Prices for a cat cadaver range between $50 and $70.”

The AAVS collected data through the Freedom of Information Act from several higher education facilities and biomedical research institutions and compiled it into the “Dying to Learn” report. The AAVS recognizes alternative methods to vivisection for medical curriculums, emphasizing the student choice mandate, which allows students to choose those methods.

UC and the state of Ohio have no student mandate in place, nor do either have a law against pound seizures, where animals are bought out for educational purposes.

“This is the last group from Covance this year,” Wells said. “We will no longer use purpose-bred dealers.”

After years of planning, the veterinary technology program and the Clermont County Animal Shelter will work together each academic year to provide students with education and the animals with a home.

Each of the 30 to 35 students in the program each year are assigned to an animal for which they are responsible, said Debbie Kemper, IACUC veterinarian.

“Multiple release waivers and adoption papers are signed prior to the animal leaving,” she said.

The veterinary technology program is one of five schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, making it one of the first-rate curriculums in the country.

“We check for heart worm and leukemia as well as get them spayed or neutered,” Wells said. “We treat them just as any personal pet would be treated if they came into the veterinarian’s office for a test or procedure.”

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