To the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s Pediatrics Program, for continuing the use of live cats in infant intubation training despite the widespread availability of high quality non-animal alternatives.
Complaints have recently been filed with both federal and state bodies against the University of Virginia (UVA) concerning the use of cats in the University’s pediatrics residency program. The practice in question involves feline intubation, in which a tube is pushed down the respiratory cavity of a cat by medical students to train them in infant resuscitation. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed the formal complaints with both the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney, citing Animal Welfare Act violations and other infringements of welfare protections in the face of viable non-animal training alternatives.
Veterinary documents retrieved under the Virginia Public Records Act show that individual cats were intubated by students as many as 22 times in each session, and were subject to the program for as long as seven years. The documents indicate harm suffered by the animals on various instances, including broken teeth from “blunt trauma” and “unusually hyperactive recovery” from sedation. UVA obtains its cats from Liberty Research of Waverly, New York, which has a long history of Animal Welfare Act infractions, including 11 violations in an 8 month period for giving kittens only half of the space required during transport.
Many widely-implemented and peer-reviewed patient simulators are in practice as an alternative to the use of animals, and a survey of medical schools nationwide shows that 94 percent of pediatrics programs—175 out of 186—are currently using non-animal methods for intubation training. The university already owns such equipment, and could be using it now. UVA has a positive record of leading the fields of medicine and science to better non-animal research alternatives, and this is one more opportunity for the school to contribute to ethical progress in the research community.
Take Action: Call and write to Steven DeKosky, M.D., dean of the UVA School of Medicine, and ask him to replace the use of cats in UVA’s pediatrics program with validated and human-based alternatives, such as Gaumard’s Premie HAL and PREMIE Blue.
Steven T. DeKosky, M.D.
Dean, Vice President
UVA School of Medicine
P.O. Box 800394
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Tele. No.: 434-982-4050