Hannah Davies;The Courier-Mail , December 10, 2010
HUNDREDS of healthy dogs, some of them carrying pups, are being destroyed to further the education of student veterinarians at the University of Queensland each year.
The dogs, supplied by Logan City Council pound, are anaesthetised before students carry out surgical procedures, then put down before they are likely to regain consciousness.
The practice, which is no longer carried out at universities in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, has been dubbed “inhumane” by the RSPCA, with vets calling for alternative teaching methods to be used.
One UQ veterinary student, who asked not to be named, said she left the course because she couldn’t bear to see the dogs – some only two months old – being operated on.
“Looking at their sad, scared little faces used to make me physically ill,” she said.
“I would cry just about every single time. . . knowing the dog lying in front of me was never going to wake up again.”
Brisbane City Council stopped supplying the university with dogs in June 2008 and Moreton Bay Regional Council followed suit.
The only council still participating is Logan.
Dr Bidda Jones, chief scientist at the RSPCA, urged the university to consider using other teaching methods, such as those used in the UK – computer simulations, ethically-sourced cadavers, models and surgical simulators.
“There is the potential for pain and suffering in this practice and that is something which concerns us,” she said.
Animal rights campaigner for Nonhuman Rescue Ops, Simone Hewitt, who used to work at Logan pound, rescued two-year-old Tigga from going to the university.
She said some of the dogs taken in the past had been carrying litters of pups.
“It breaks my heart to know this is going on because these dogs are no different to people’s own pets,” she said.
UQ’s Head of Veterinary Science Professor Jon Hill said students only performed surgery on animals that were unsuitable for re-homing and scheduled to be euthanised.
However, government guidelines state dogs used by the university must be healthy and non-aggressive because of health and safety issues.
Logan Mayor Pam Parker refused to comment.