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Of Dogs, Neurosurgeons, and the Cleveland Clinic

As you may know by now, a neurosurgeon used a dog at a sales training session at the Cleveland Clinic. He induced a brain aneurysm in the large, mixed breed, demonstrated how his company’s (Micrus Corporation) medical device could stop the bleeding to the dog’s brain, then "euthanized" (killed) the dog.

Many, including PETA, are in an uproar (and they list actions to take). And rightfully so.

Let’s deconstruct:

  • The doctor, and the experiment/training session, are being investigated. But not because he used a dog in a demonstration. Because he used a dog in a sales demonstration, which is a no-no. The Cleveland Clinic used 340 dogs and 541 other animals for medical education and research in 2005, but usage of live animals for sales is prohibited. The Clinic never approved the training session, claims that it was not in compliance with their policy, and promises it won’t happen again.
    • The real issues, from the Clinic’s point of view, are that the doctor didn’t get approval, and the demonstration was solely for sales purposes. No one is interested in banning any kinds of experiments with live animals, here. They’re upset that a mistake was made and a rule was broken.
  • If I were an animal welfare advocate, I’d say: Let’s examine the protocol and conditions for the Clinic’s permissible experiments with animals, and make sure that the creatures are suffering as little as possible, and have adequate food, water, shelter, and enrichment. But as an animal rights advocate, I am an abolitionist and therefore must say: My goal is the elimination of all experiments with animals, and the development (or usage) of effective, efficient models. And I say this not because experimenting on animals is cruel; not because the animals suffer. I say it because experimenting on animals is wrong. Period. I say it because they are not, in my mind, simply resources for us to use as we wish. They are individuals who deserve a free life. Get the difference? The suffering is an important component, but the real issue is that we don’t have the right to use them.

If we want to abolish animal use, abuse, and exploitation, we cannot compromise and settle for less cruelty, as inherent in that goal is the approval of the use of the animal to begin with.

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