Students put down pups

Queensland Times; Melanie Maeseele | 21st December 2010

THE University of Queensland has defended the euthanising of abandoned pets by veterinary students at its Gatton campus.

The university is now the last in Australia to allow students to practise surgery on healthy, live animals which are subsequently destroyed.

More than 3000 animals have been transferred to the UQ campus from Logan City Council’s pounds in recent years, but precise figures on how many have been put down have not been revealed.

UQ’s head of veterinary science, Professor Jonathan Hill, claimed students only performed surgery on animals destined to be put down in any case.

“Students perform surgery on animals that have been previously deemed unsuitable for re-homing and are to be euthanised by council,” he told The Queensland Times.

But animal rights campaigner Simone Hewitt, who used to work at Logan pound, said UQ’s stance was indefensible.

“As an ex-worker of Logan Pound I was specifically instructed by the university to supply dogs of specific weights and sex for their drug trialling,” she said.

“What they are doing is inhumane; there is no other way to describe it.”

Ms Hewitt said she believed the council could be doing much more to find homes for abandoned pets. Ipswich City Council and Brisbane City Council do not transfer unwanted animals to UQ.

The policy has caused division among veterinary students.

UQ Veterinary Students Association former president and fifth-year veterinary student Phil Kowalski said: “Working on animals is absolutely beneficial to our learning.

“It helps us save more animals in the long term. It’s a great privilege for us to operate on these animals.”

Mr Kowalski said the surgery could be “confronting” but “benefits thousands of other animals”.

“I don’t think what we are doing is inhumane because we don’t cause pain and suffering to the animal,” he said. “The last thing they see before they are put to sleep is a vet science student playing with them.”

But another student, who wished to remain anonymous, condemned the killing of animals.

“It’s so upsetting to see their sad faces looking at you for the last time,” she said.

“I wanted to be a vet to help animals, not to put them through unnecessary pain just for our own benefit.”

RSPCA spokeswoman Lisa Chalk said her organisation supported an end to the use of animals for veterinary study.

“There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that training vet students in a non-recovery situation does result in them not giving the animals the same care as they would to an animal that does have the chance of survival,” Ms Chalk said.


Through UQ’s Pets-for-Life Animal Adoption Program, some cats and dogs have a chance to be saved

The program attempts to match surrendered animals with new families

On average UQ receives about 850 animals a year

The School of Veterinary Science has re-homed 141 animals in 2009/2010 and currently has 32 dogs and 19 cats waiting to be re-homed

To adopt a pet visit or phone 5460 1868

Original story and readers comments here


Filed under Queensland

3 responses to “Students put down pups

  1. companionanimalnews

    A reader comment:
    “This story has upset me badly. I couldn’t be cruel to a dog and there is no way I would accept that what is done at the university isn’t cruel. I have had to put down two of my dogs because they were dying of old age and that look they gave me the last time is something I can’t forget. I knew as they did that it was their time. They are mans best friend and give unconditional love, hurting one is like hurting a child. This must be stopped now and laws put in place so no council is allowed to do it anymore.”

  2. companionanimalnews

    We recieved this information from one of the vet students at UQ:

    “First year vet school 200x we had a class of 120 students aprox 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 the 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 (lets 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 an approx of 130 dogs per semester so 260 dogs a year. At least that is how it was in 200x when I did my surgery, it was horrible, traumatizing, I hated it.”

  3. Jan Baker

    well I hope I don’t have to take my dog to Queensland for any of those upcoming vets!!They have mouths why don’t they speak up….that is not right……Logan Pound sounds a bit like Blacktown pound…..out of sight out of mind!! where have our humane feelings gone…….

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