UNC law students and members of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund hosted an event at the School of Law Wednesday called Saving Animal and Human Lives: UNC Can Modernize Medical Training.
Director of Research Advocacy for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Ryan Merkley, asked the audience if they believed cocaine was still necessary to treat toothaches.
“And of course it’s not,” he said. “The fact is that UNC does not need to use animals to teach emergency medicine residents.”
Merkley said UNC, like almost all medical schools in the country, has stopped operating on live animals in its general medical training. However, the University does continue to use live pigs in the emergency medicine residency program.
Merkley said the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a federal complaint with the Department of Agriculture in August against the animal use because they feel the treatment on the animals is cruel and unnecessary.
“This boils down to two things,” he said. “A lack of belief in a viable alternative and a belief that this better prepares students.”
UNC released a statement in August defending the use of live animals in the emergency medicine residency program.
“We believe that our physicians are better prepared to perform life saving interventions for humans as a result of this training,” the statement said.