PULLMAN, Wash. — The Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine was forced to postpone two, small animal reproduction teaching exercises today because of a dog shortage for use in the non-invasive procedures.
One of the postponed exercises was to be conducted today; the other was to occur this Friday. No animals were to be harmed or euthanized in either exercise.
The postponement comes after the Spokane County animal shelter suddenly decided to stop selling live animals slated to be destroyed to the WSU veterinary college. Last week the shelter made the unilateral decision after bowing to pressure by animal rights organizations locally and nationally. The pressure came after at least two untrained, second-year veterinary students complained to the shelter about legal, approved classroom procedures and posted their complaints on various Internet sites.
“It is essential to a veterinary student’s education to receive training in small animal reproduction,” said Warwick Bayly, WSU veterinary college dean. “Because of the pressure brought to bear on Spokane County by the activism of two or three veterinary students out of almost 400, we were unable to offer this non-invasive teaching exercise this morning or Friday. It is truly unfortunate for the vast majority of WSU veterinary students and we will work diligently to provide the exercise at a convenient time in the future.”
The WSU veterinary college was not asked to provide data or testimony in the county’s recent decision. Spokane County animal control representatives had been invited to the college in the last month and had inspected and toured the nation’s most highly accredited veterinary teaching facilities. Surplus animals purchased by WSU from Spokane County would be destroyed on that day if not purchased.
The college has issued a call to students, faculty and staff to voluntarily bring in their personal animals for the reproduction exercises and volunteers are projected to meet the need.
The small animal reproduction course normally includes physical examination of the animal and its reproductive tract, swab collection of vaginal cells, ultrasound examination, and digital semen collection for evaluation purposes. Such non-invasive procedures are commonly done in small animal veterinary practices nationwide for clients.
Equivalent non-invasive procedures are also an essential part of human fertility assessment, food animal production and reproductive conservation practices with endangered species worldwide.
Spokane County still provides cadaver animals to the college that have been euthanized at the shelter in accordance with policy. In addition WSU’s veterinary college still provides free spay and neuter services to the county making animals destined to be destroyed more adoptable.
So far this year, the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital has performed more than 500 spays and neuters for local animal shelters including Spokane County at a cost of more than $50,000 to the institution. In addition, the college has for more than a decade pioneered the use of cadaver animals and alternatives to the use of live animals in veterinary teaching.
WSU still purchases live animals that will otherwise be killed for overpopulation, aggressive behavior, or running at large from the City of Clarkston. None of the nation’s current veterinary colleges have completely eliminated the use of live animals in its teaching program.