The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has been working for years to end the use of animals in “terminal” training exercises at veterinary schools—in which students perform procedures on otherwise healthy animals, who are then killed. Today they are happy to report that one of the nation’s highest-ranked vet schools, Colorado State University, has officially ended the use of terminal labs!
The PCRM first became involved in this issue in February 2020, when a CSU vet student contacted them. The student was shocked to learn that the curriculum included courses in which students would perform invasive surgical procedures on sheep, pigs, and horses. At the end of the training exercises, the animals were killed.
After receiving documents from CSU through the state’s open records law, the PCRM reached out to the dean of the veterinary school and were happy to hear that they were “also committed to the goal of eliminating terminal procedures.”
Over the last two years, the PCRM have worked closely with CSU leaders, alumni, students, and faculty at other veterinary schools to provide useful information and support as the university has made this transition. CSU leaders deserve immense credit for this change: To replace terminal labs, they have increased student exposure to surgical skills that are foundational to veterinary medicine, provided greater opportunities for repetition and practice, and expanded student access to real-world surgical experiences involving animals in need of procedures. This will make CSU graduates not only more compassionate but also more skilled.
CSU’s decision follows the elimination of terminal dog labs by Tuskegee University and Auburn University in 2021, which came about following work by the Physicians Committee. We hope this trend will send a clear message to vet schools elsewhere that terminal training labs can and should be replaced.
The Physicians’ Committee give special thanks to their Remembering Rodney Society members for this victory. Like the countless dogs, cats, pigs, and other animals used in terminal labs, Rodney was a sweet and loving dog who suffered through multiple painful veterinary training procedures before being killed. Members of the Remembering Rodney Society keep his spirit alive by providing the monthly support that allows the Physicians Committee to save animals day after day. You can help them save the “Rodneys” who still suffer in research, testing, and training programs by joining the society today.
Want to know more? Read about Hugo’s lucky escape from a laboratory breeding facility in Let the dogs out, a graphic novel (with a happy ending) on our stories for teens and up page.
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