A contingent of those against the dog labs at the university protested last month, waving signs that read, "Kill? Heal? What's It Gonna Be?" and "The U Kills Dogs." A fairly recent article in the Washington Post ("A Terminal Learning Environment"; Nov. 5, 2000) manages to move beyond the emotion and sloganeering used by these protesters to some of the real arguments of those in opposition; that the dog labs are "cruel, unnecessary and a waste of money" and that they "should be eliminated."1 However, the arguments used by the Washington Post (and ultimately, those in opposition) are insufficient to justify the termination of the dog labs at university. The claim that the dog labs are cruel to the animals is unsubstantiated and inaccurate. The claim that the labs are unnecessary is a falsity, as alternatives are not as beneficial as the vivisection labs. Finally, the argument that the labs are a waste of money is an ill-researched, erroneous depiction of the real circumstances.
The dog labs are held annually at the University, on five consecutive Fridays in the early spring. In the lab, students insert catheters, draw blood, inject drugs, perform minor surgery and observe the cardiovascular systems of seventy-two deeply anesthetized dogs. At the end of the lab, the dogs are euthanized. The purposes of this lab are to help teach the basic concepts of physiology, give students the opportunity to observe the effects of some commonly used drugs, and to provide students with a "hands-on" experience working with live patients. Students are given the option of not participating, but are still responsible for learning the material presented in the lab. This year, thirty students (out of one hundred and thirty-t...
... middle of paper ...
...as cost-efficient as the labs themselves.
At the present time, the arguments used by the Washington Post do not justify the termination of the vivisection labs at the University, as they can be refuted point by point. If at some time in the future, an alternative method that serves the purpose of teaching human physiology while providing hands on experience for students becomes available, and proves to be better than the vivisection labs, then the issue should be reexamined. Until then, the annual "dog labs" should continue to be a part of the curriculum at the university.
1. "A Terminal Learning Environment." Washington Post, 5 November 1999: 7.
4. Dave Curtin, "Protesters Greet Med Students: Annual CU Lab Uses Anesthetized Canines." Denver Post, 11 March 2000: 1.
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