Ferrets are (literally) breathing easier today. Following a three-year PETA campaign—which included e-mails from more than 60,000 people, appeals from civilian and military medical experts, complaints to military authorities, and even a public banner drop from an overpass near the base in Tacoma—the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, has confirmed that it has completely replaced its cruel use of ferrets for pediatric intubation training with modern simulators. PETA’s effort prompted Madigan’s thoughtful new leadership to undertake an internal review that determined lifelike infant-patient simulators can be used to teach intubation skills without harming any animals.
Ferrets have good reason to celebrate: This archaic procedure—in which hard plastic tubes are repeatedly forced down the animals’ delicate windpipes—can cause bleeding, swelling, pain, scarring, collapsed lungs, and even death. Not only is it harmful, it’s also ineffective. Research shows that people trained on simulators are better at intubating babies than people trained in crude animal laboratories. So it isn’t surprising that the use of animals has been replaced with lifelike infant simulators by nearly every other civilian and military medical training facility in the country.
In recent years, PETA has convinced more than a dozen institutions, including the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and the Naval Medical Center San Diego, to modernize their intubation training programs.
What You Can Do
Next on our list is Texas’ Lackland Air Force Base. Help us remind the facility that Department of Defense regulations require that alternatives to the use of animals be implemented whenever available, and urge it to join Madigan and drop its ferret laboratory today.