Top Military Journal Prints PETA Letter Slamming Trauma Drills on Animals

Published by Zachary Toliver.

A top military journal has opened up a fierce debate on the use of animals in trauma training drills—during which thousands of live animals are shot, stabbed, dismembered, and killed each year—by printing a first-of-its-kind critique co-authored by PETA Senior Laboratory Methods Specialist Shalin Gala and former Commander of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Rear Adm. Marion Balsam.

This unprecedented letter to the editor—which was sent in response to a controversial study that supports killing animals in trauma trainings—was published in the official international journal of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS), Military Medicine. Gala and Balsam remarked that the study used misleading statistics, failed to cite counterevidence, and defended “live tissue training” by selectively citing one researcher’s work but omitting he later concluded that human-patient simulators should replace animals in trauma drills.


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They also point out that the U.S. Coast Guard has ended its use of animals in trauma training drills and that the U.S. Defense Health Agency has described this type of training as “outdated.” They urge military leaders to take steps to end the use of animals in trauma training:

“[T]he evidence clearly favors the equivalency or superiority of [human patient simulation] compared with [live tissue training]. … [W]e hope military leaders will continue to phase out [live tissue training] and transition entirely to [human patient simulation] training methods.”

Americans want a ban on archaic trauma trainings that involve animals.

The calls for change began after PETA released shocking eyewitness videos showing live pigs and goats being mutilated in military trauma trainings. Efforts led by PETA to replace live animals with high-tech human-patient simulators have found far-reaching support—including from voters, members of Congress, veterans, and current military members.

In addition to the Coast Guard’s decision to stop using animals in trauma trainings, the Army drastically scaled back its use of animals in such drills and the Department of Defense ordered all military branches to eliminate the use of animals in six different medical training areas.

What You Can Do

Decent people everywhere now recognize that the violence inflicted on animals during trauma trainings harms both them and service members. The Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act (H.R. 1243), which has bipartisan support from 144 congressional co-sponsors, would phase out live tissue training and replace it with more effective and less costly human-simulation models. Please write to your congressional representatives and urge them to support the BEST Practices Act today—we’ll help you get started

Note: PETA supports animal rights, opposes all forms of animal exploitation, and informs the public on those issues. It does not directly or indirectly participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office or any political party.

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind