Do you know the saying “Don’t steal—the government hates competition”? I was reminded of it recently when news broke that the U.S. Army is shooting live pigs in an open range with high-power rifles at a training camp in Hawaii. The Army says it’s teaching combat medics how to treat battlefield injuries, but here’s the thing: The Army is required—by its own regulations—to use alternatives to animals in any kind of experimentation or training when scientifically valid and comparable alternatives exist. And guess what? Those alternatives exist.
My colleague Shalin Gala rattles off these humane alternatives like nobody’s business: the Combat Trauma Patient Simulation System, Simulab Corporation’s TraumaMan system (insert superhero figure with a T on his chest), partnering with trauma centers for real-life experience, and Dr. Emad Aboud’s “living” cadaver perfusion model. Shalin also tells me that he regularly receives calls from whistleblowers in the Army and the Navy telling him about the use of pigs, goats, and monkeys for trauma training and chemical casualty training—all in apparent violation of regulations.
Kathy Guillermo, the director of PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department, had this to say: “In order to effectively save our soldiers’ lives, Army medics should be trained with human trauma patients and advanced simulators that mimic human responses. Shooting and maiming pigs is as outdated as Civil War rifles.”
I agree, but I’m kind of stuck on the fact that the horror of the Army’s pig shooting in Hawaii goes way beyond just that. Readers of The PETA Files are well aware that you don’t have to be Einstein to get your head around the few paltry regulations intended to protect animals in laboratories, but even so, violations of these regulations are rampant. A recent audit noted that nearly a third of U.S. laboratories are failing to search for alternatives. Is it any wonder when the government—charged with ensuring that laboratories comply with the law—doesn’t seem to have its own house in order?
Posted by Grace Friedan