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Leaked Video Exposes Cruel Cat Lab at Wash U in St. Louis

Disturbing Video Prompts PETA to Submit Federal Complaint and Renew Call for School to Modernize Its Medical Training Program

For Immediate Release:
April 18, 2013

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

St. Louis — PETA has just released disturbing leaked video footage of a cruel medical training exercise conducted on cats in March at Washington University in St. Louis’ (WUSTL) Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) course, which is offered jointly with St. Louis Children’s Hospital. PETA has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging violations of the Animal Welfare Act as well as complaints with WUSTL officials and the American Heart Association (AHA), the PALS course’s sponsor. The AHA recommends the use of human-like manikins only and does not endorse the use of cats in PALS training.

The video, available here, shows unskilled trainees placing cats at risk for serious injuries while struggling for several minutes to shove hard tubes down the windpipes of two vulnerable cats named Elliott and Jesse for a crude intubation training drill. In the video, several trainees state that the cats they used began to wake up during the procedure, indicating that they were not properly anesthetized. Even though studies show that as few as five intubations can cause serious trauma to animals, the WUSTL laboratory veterinarian running the course discusses how each cat is subjected to as many as 15 intubations each session and admits that some cats’ windpipes are injured during the exercise.

After receiving the video footage, PETA asked Washington University Chancellor Mark Stephen Wrighton to meet and discuss the issues privately, but he refused.

“Out of more than 1,000 PALS facilities nationwide, Washington University bears the shame of being the only one still abusing cats in these archaic exercises,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Kathy Guillermo. “Forcing tubes down cats’  throats is obviously cruel—and it’s no way to teach students how to save the lives of human infants.”

WUSTL has continued to use cats in its PALS course, even though the AHA clearly states, “We do not endorse or require the use of animals during the AHA-PALS training because of advances and availability of simulation manikins.” Cindy Tait, a nurse, a paramedic, and the original co-developer of the PALS course, has stated, “There is absolutely no evidence in the scientific literature to indicate that using animals to teach this procedure is effective on its own or that it improves the skills of those trained on simulators.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org/StLouisCats.