Letter to the Editor

    Editor:

    I agree with Hsieh in the article on the dog labs (Feb. 24 issue of the Guardian) that “”animal abuse in this nation and around the world is no doubt a problem that should be focused on,”” but would like to use a more inclusive meaning of the word “”abuse.”” I would like to comment on what she defines as “”humane,”” because these labs do violate the animals’ welfare. These animals are bred simply to be killed and are not small, but are confined to small cages. They are put to death by those that are supposed to be taking care of them. Hundreds have been killed at UCSD alone.

    Put the usefulness you may believe is there aside, and think about the moral questions involved. Would you allow this to happen to your dog? If not, we ought to be equally opposed to these actions when committed against an animal without a name or a home. It’s supposedly humane because the animals are injected with potassium chloride and feel no pain. Judging from the debate that exists surrounding the morality of capital punishment, it can hardly be agreed upon as ethical. Compounding that, lethal injections are reserved for our worst criminals, not our best friends.

    Hsieh says the Web site http://www.doctorsagainstlabs.com undermines the argument by presenting a different breed of dog than is used and by being overly biased. It is true that people who have witnessed dozens of dogs being killed unnecessarily may have feelings about it, which is understandable. Humans are biased and have feelings when others are victims of injustice. They are dogs, sentient animals, and not a set of data that can be spoken of without compassion.

    Hsieh suggests that dog labs are beneficial because they prepare students for unpleasantness, but by killing animals, our future doctors are taught to be merciless and unsympathetic. We ought to teach them to care deeply for the life in their power and not simply shrug when their patient dies.

    One claim is that medical schools that have abolished dog labs have done so because of pressure from animal rights advocates. Are we to believe that schools such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Johns Hopkins would be persuaded by a handful of activists? That the United Kingdom was so pressured that it abolished the practice entirely? Or is it more reasonable that these progressive schools have simply progressed?

    We are told that their death is a small price for student experience. These labs are performed not for research, but to establish known facts again and again. It’s possible to learn from a video or computer simulator, from a human cadaver, or by observing human surgery like many schools do. That teaches students what medicine is, rather than opening up a small, furry animal. The alternative isn’t simply reading the book instead or spending hours studying. What’s called for are replacements for the labs, not the ability to opt out.

    Hsieh says that it’s acceptable to kill when there is a purpose. Of course anyone who kills any animal is going to claim there was a valid purpose. Would it be acceptable to kill my pet if I had a very good reason, such as watching its heart slow down and speed up, and say, “”yeah, that’s what they said would happen””?

    — Megan Sewell

    Marshall college junior

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