PULLMAN, Wash. — In the past, Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine contracted with Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane to provide a portion of the American College of Surgeon’s (ACS) Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) training utilizing goats under anesthesia.

The course was last conducted in September 2002.

The course is no longer conducted at WSU because state-of-the-art manikins now provide the necessary experience for human care providers to be certified as an ATLS provider in Spokane.

Four goats received general anesthesia without complications throughout the course last year.  At no time, for any reason, were the goats struck with any device as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleges.  A list of approved procedures done with the goats follows at the end of this release.

All goats were euthanized at the end of the procedures without being recovered and without feeling any pain at any time.  The source of the goats was local herds where they were culled by the owners. 

The class was a mandatory part of the ATLS certification training for human emergency medicine and trauma care providers, including medical doctors, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants.  In the 2002 course, 12 physicians, four internal medicine resident physicians and four nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants participated in the training coordinated through Deaconess Medical Center, not the University of Washington.

Under requirements at the time, the course had to be conducted either on human cadavers or live animals.  Human cadavers were deemed too expensive by Deaconess Medical Center, and they chose to use live animals.  Under ACS requirements at the time, such training could only be conducted with live animals in a U.S. Department of Agriculture regulated facility in complete compliance with all state and federal laws.  To ensure the safety and humane care of the animals, Deaconess chose WSU’s veterinary college and members of its veterinary clinical faculty for conducting this advanced human medical training.

Approved, legal procedures conducted on the goats while under general anesthesia included:

  • Dissection of the hind limb to expose veins and arteries for placing IV lines like those used with trauma victims;
  • Flushing of the abdominal cavity with saline to show how frank blood in the belly of a human trauma victim is discovered.  No trauma was induced in the goats, only a colored solution was infused to simulate blood;
  • An equivalent procedure was done on the chest cavity, but no solution was infused there.  This simulated a negative test for blood in the chest.
  • A chest tube was inserted in the goats to provide placement experience like that received by human trauma victims with a collapsed lung.  Again, no trauma was induced on the goats.
  • A colored solution was infused around the heart to simulate bleeding in the sac that surrounds the heart muscle in human trauma victims.
  • Euthanasia was conducted at the end of the procedures without allowing any animal to feel pain or recover from anesthesia.

PETA’s allegations that animals received blows of any kind from any instrument during this course are untrue, said Dr. Warwick Bayly, dean of the college.  Their claims that UW medical students were involved are untrue.  Their allegation that beginning technicians administered anesthesia and had difficulties is untrue according to the medical record.  In fact, their allegations are so filled with untruths, we aren’t even sure this is the course they are demanding information on.

“We urge PETA and the media to question the source of the allegations and if they have evidence of a crime as alleged to take it forward to law enforcement for action.  We welcome any investigation by appropriately licensed authorities into matters of animal care and use in WSU’s veterinary college, the dean said.