Washington University stops intubation training using cats

The university has trained with the cats for over 25 years.

ST. LOUIS, MO. - It's been a source of controversy and protests for years at Washington University.

Now, Wash U is dropping its long-time practice of using cats for medical training.

For more than 25 years,  Wash U has used sedated cats to train medical students how to insert breathing tubes into the throats of babies.

It's held tight to the practice, despite criticism.  Until now.

In the delicate, life-saving procedure of inserting a breathing tube into a baby, Wash U has long contended that sedated cats were the closest it could get to the real thing for training.

But the university announces it is putting an end to the practice, saying, in a statement, that improvements in mannequins and advanced simulators make it possible to stop using cats for neo-natal intubation.

Students we talked to support the decision.

“I would say it's inhumane, so I think that it's a step in the right direction,” said Washington University Freshman Julia Rifkin.

For years, the use of cats for training has attracted protests from animal advocates like St. Louis Animal Rights Team, Peta, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine,

Dr. John Pippin with Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine told Five on Your Side’s Mike Rush, “There are 198 pediatrics programs in the United States we've surveyed and Washington University was the only one of those 198 using animals.”

Wash U says the five cats left over from the program will be adopted by medical center employees, putting an end to a practice some students think may have been necessary at one time but is now outdated.

“I think now that there's new technology that's obviously better than possibly hurting cats or any animal,” said Wash U Student Jack Friedman.

The university says in more than 25 years, no cats were harmed during this training.

(© 2016 KSDK)


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