ISLAMABAD: A prominent American animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said on Wednesday it had written letters to Pakistani officials about recently reported cases of animal cruelty at veterinary schools and called for an investigation.
Since last month, videos have circulated on social media showing animals in various states of distress after allegedly being operated upon by veterinary students. Activists and members of the public have widely condemned the practices and called for action.
At veterinary schools around the world, the practice of using live animals to teach surgery has been on the decline in the last decade. But an Arab News investigation published on June 10 quoted students and university management saying live animals were being used to teach surgical skills, though they added proper procedures were followed.
“Pls see letters (at link below) that PETA sent to Pakistan officials re the recently reported animal cruelty in veterinary training,” PETA VP Shalin Gala wrote on Twitter, in response to Salman Sufi, head of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Strategic Reforms Unit. “Pls contact me to collaborate on reforms to modernize such training. Ready to assist.”
In the Arab News article, Sufi had promised the government would roll out reforms soon.
“We are going to roll out thorough reforms in a week or ten days to put an end to surgeries and experimentation on live animals in all our universities,” he said.
“The present practice of students training on live healthy animals is cruel and we are working on alternatives to educate our veterinary students in line with best international practices ... The proposed reforms may include house jobs and paid internships for vet students to learn the necessary skills like incision and surgery in teaching hospitals.”
PETA said on its website on Tuesday it had written letters to Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University–Rawalpindi, Riphah College of Veterinary Sciences, and COMSATS University, as well as the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, which oversees the Pakistan Veterinary Medical Council.
“We called for the institutions to conduct an investigation, embrace humane simulation models, and ban training methods that aren’t medically necessary and don’t directly benefit the animals involved,” PETA said.
“Grisly” footage reviewed by PETA showed dogs with their legs up and mouths tied shut as surgery was performed on them, the group said, alleging that anaesthesia was not administered.
“[The students] neglected their post-operative care as they writhed and whimpered in pain, and even laughed at their suffering,” PETA added.