New York Medical College Will Halt Use of Dogs in Labs

November 27, 2007

New York Medical College says it will no longer use live dogs in a physiology teaching lab, The Journal News reported today.

The institution had come under fire from students, animal-rights groups, and politicians for being the only medical college in the state to still use live animals in its teaching labs.

Beginning early next year, students will use simulators and echocardiography, or heart ultrasounds, in the first-year physiology lab, college officials announced on Monday.

Only 11 allopathic medical schools still use live animals in teaching, according to John J. Pippin, a cardiologist in Dallas who works with a group called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Karl Adler, president of the college, said high-tech substitutes now make it possible to teach students skills that they had been learning by opening a dog’s heart and watching it beat. “The reason why the dogs were used in the past is that the students could actually see a beating heart, and understand the physiology of how the heart works,” he said. “It’s the only internal organ where there’s actually movement that you can understand the physiology of.”

Beginning in 2008, students will use simulators that mimic cardiac arrest or the effects of a drug, and portable machines that allow them to attach electrodes to a student’s chest and watch the heart’s activity on a video monitor. —Katherine Mangan