‘The dogs were doomed’: University defends vet training

Brisbane Times; Dan Nancarrow; December 11, 2010

The University of Queensland has denied destroying healthy dogs so veterinary students could learn how to perform surgery.

The university has come under fire from animal rights campaigners who claim the Logan City Council is providing the institution with healthy, behaviorally sound dogs for students to carry out surgical procedures.

Brisbane City Council stopped providing animals in 2008 after similar complaints.

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Professor Jacquie Rand said the university was only provided with animals which could not be rehomed by the council, the RSPCA and the Animal Welfare League.

She said the university did extensive behavioural research on each dog and only the dogs deemed unable to be rehomed were euthanised.

More than half the dogs put down at shelters around the country are healthy animals destroyed for behavioural reasons.

“These dogs which are being euthanised are not dogs that can be put into a sale pen; their behaviour makes them unsuitable as pets,” Professor Rand said.

“Some dogs we’ve had to keep for up to two years to try and find a home and retrain them. Shelters just don’t have those resources, neither does the vet school.”

Nonhuman Rescue Ops animal rights campaigner Simone Hewitt, who previously worked at the Logan shelter, said she believed the council was providing UQ with healthy dogs similar in behaviour to domestic animals.

Ms Hewitt said animals provided by UQ were not given the chance to go into the council’s sale pen to be rehomed.

“It is a betrayal of community trust that a shelter which is meant to be a safe haven for homeless pets that are no different to the pets you and I might have in our homes it’s just that they have lost their roof and they need to be given the opportunity to be rehomed, not dissected, vivisectioned, terminally operated on or killed,” she said.

Ms Hewitt said there were “humane options” available to teach students veterinary surgery.

“There’s simulation and cadavers,” she said.

“These student vets from UQ should be working with the RSPCA and the AWL like other universities and towns across Australia where the students go and do desexing programs on the shelter pets.”

Ms Hewitt said she believed under government guidelines the university could not, for occupational health and safety reasons, take aggressive, sick or diseased animals.

The guidelines state: “Dogs expressing behaviours associated with human or dog-directed aggression are unsuitable unless these behaviours themselves are the object of investigation.

“If risks from aggressive behaviour are not controlled, significant injury may result to individuals and competent staff may be deterred from working with dogs.”

Professor Rand said the university was not sent aggressive animals that posed a health and safety risk to staff and were not knowingly sent sick animals by Logan.

She said there were no suitable simulated models to simulate the complexities of major surgery.

A Logan City Council spokeswoman said council attempted to rehome healthy dogs through its own sales program, external agencies such as Best Friends Rescue and animal welfare agencies.

She said the dogs UQ received would have been euthanised because they had been deemed unsuitable to be rehomed due to behavioural problems such aggression.

The council has an agreement to transfer animals to the School of Veterinary Science until 2013.

Last year, Logan council’s Health and Regulatory Services Committee chairman Phil Pidgeon said councillors were “comfortable” with the surgery deal.

“At least at the end of it, we have well-trained vets who can potentially save thousands of animals’ lives,” he said.

UQ is one of only four universities in Australia that trains vets.

To adopt a pet from the university, contact the UQ Gatton Campus on (07) 5460 1834.

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3 Comments

Filed under Council Pounds, Queensland

3 responses to “‘The dogs were doomed’: University defends vet training

  1. companionanimalnews

    There are a lot of inconsistencies here. They need to get their story straight. The Council spokesperson says that the uni only gets animals that are deemed to be unsuitable for rehoming. Yet we are getting messages from the vet students saying how good they are at rehoming a proportion of the animals they get from Logan? And why is there is an ad at the end of the story saying “to adopt a pet from the uni……”.?????

    Further… “Professor Rand said the university was not sent aggressive animals that posed a health and safety risk to staff and were not knowingly sent sick animals by Logan.””
    SO ARE THE ANIMALS REHOMABLE OR NOT?
    If they are rehomable , then Logan needs to rehome them and not dump them off at the vet school.
    What is the REAL story here? Logan and Uni need to fess up and stop taking the public for stupid.

  2. companionanimalnews

    We recieved this information from a representative of the AWL Queensland:
    “In 2008/9 we met with Logan Council An Management Dept and explained our G2Z system and offered to develop and run a Community Vet Clinic which would double as a shelter clinic, and to manage their rehoming centre and education. We had many meetings and discussions.

    They decided they wanted to do the rehoming themselves and have been making some improvements with some new rehoming pens etc.

    We had an agreement in principle with them to develop and run the Community Vet Clinic as a Pilot Project for the Qld Govt, using the same model as we have on the Gold Coast and in Ipswich.

    One of the purposes of the Clinic that we explained to Logan Council was to provide another opportunity for students to have exposure to desexing experience and Early Age Desexing (as we do at our Gold Coast clinic). Our intention was to increase vet student experience on non-terminal surgery and increase the vet treatment and desexing of abandoned Logan animals once we were on site, and so there would be no healthy and treatable animals having to go to UQ for terminal use.

    However after we designed the clinic and the clinic was just about ready, the local vets objected to us running a Clinic as they feared we would affect their businesses. They formed a Consortium of Logan Vets and lobbied the Council. The Vet Clinic then went to tender and the Consortium won the tender and now run the clinic. However they are only open a few hours each week day, while we are open 7 days a week and busy all the time, so we do not see how they can be progressing desexing of owned and unowned animals, as we would have done.

    Since then we have not been able to be involved in Logan Pound processes except for still taking a few animals from Logan when we can fit them in, and we still run their education program.

    However we have been working with UQ to develop programs for vet students. Professor Jacqui Rand at UQ has been working with us for over 5 years, and introduced lectures on overpopulation and EAD for 5th yr Vet students at UQ. Last year we tried to organise every 5 th Yr student (over 100) coming to AWLQ for a one on one desexing experience that we paid vets to stay to do in the evenings (not during the day as it would slow down the desexing of animals so fewer would be rehomed!). Time pressures on students to travel to us (WH&S) meant it could not be offered as compulsory but approx 52 students took it up voluntarily and were very pleased to have the opportunity to desex an animal for rehoming themselves with one on one supervision, that they don’t currently get in their vet course.

    Jacqui is currently trying to progress a Shelter Medicine stream, where vets would have 2 days at AWLQ and 2 days at RSPCA Qld from next year. Another day was meant to be at Logan Community Vet Clinic provided the surgery staff could go there to train the students in desexing animals for rehoming. However I have only just found out that the Logan option is not happening because they finish at 3 p.m. and animals that are desexed by students will need supervision afterwards. As there is no one to oversee the animals, they apparently are not going to use the Logan facility. Funding is also still needed to help pay for someone to study a Masters in this area and to coordinate this program. We have no spare money – running at a deficit every month – so cannot help fund.

    This program would be a great opportunity to raise awareness in vet students of overpopulation in pounds and shelters and involve them in the solutions particularly desexing and early age desexing. However getting them to a stage where they can do EAD is difficult for as learners they are too slow so need to work on an adult animals first with intervention if needed by an experienced vet. Their course is so full there is not enough time to progress their skills far.

    The AWAC advisory committee to the Minister for Primary Industries has just investigated the use of pound animals at UQ for teaching vets and the Minister will be making a decision based on this advice soon I believe. Finding a possible solution logistically takes time and funding. “

  3. companionanimalnews

    And this from a vet student at UQ:

    ” First year vet school we had a class of 120 students divided in groups of 5 and each group got two dogs to study (mostly greyhounds)
    Second year there was a dog per 5 students each small animal anatomy prac…
    Third year it was minimum use of animals but we used cats as well for post mortem but this was only once so there would have been around 30 cats used in total.
    Fourth year is the big one with the live animal surgery. Class is divided in two (let’s say 50 in each group) and then they do groups of 4 and each group gets a pound dog EVERY WEEK. So it would be around 13 dogs per week for 10 weeks each semester….. making a grand total of approx of 130 dogs per semester so 260 dogs a year.
    At least that is how it was when I did my surgery, it was horrible, traumatizing, I hated it.”

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