Although proven to be ineffective and now obsolete in most medical residency programs in the U.S. and in Canada, medical training involving live animals is still being carried out at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There, rabbits and sheep are dying at the hands of emergency medicine residents – despite the inadequacy and cruelty of the procedures.


The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has launched a petition to raise awareness for the issue and putting an end to the practices still in use at HCMC. During the training at the center, participants are instructed to perform such actions as cutting into a rabbit’s or a sheep’s chest in order to learn how to insert a breathing tube. In other sessions, they are to crack open an animal’s breastbone and insert needles into the chest to remove fluid that is surrounding the heart. Other procedures even involve, as the petition points out, drilling holes into the animal’s skull.

The procedures are continued even when the animal dies on the operating table. If any manage to survive, the animal is still euthanized.

Training on living animals is cruel, but it is also, as we now know, greatly ineffective due to the anatomical differences between – in this case – rabbits, sheep, and humans. According to the petition, 91 percent of surveyed emergency medicine residency programs in the U.S. and Canada use exclusively non-animal and human-relevant training methods.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine spent 31 years working towards the goal of animal-free and human-relevant medical student education. According to the organization, over the last 20 years, the use of live animal laboratory exercises in medical schools has steadily declined and the transition away from animal use accelerated after 2005. The replacement of the old practices resulted mainly from the development of lifelike interactive and programmable simulators that replicate human anatomy and physiology much better. The use of such replacements was validated as equivalent or superior to animal-based education.


These obsolete and inadequate procedures have no place in a modern medical center. Click here to sign the petition for HCMC to stop performing medical training on live animals!

Image source: cristty/Pixabay