LAHORE: On an appeal from the US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on rectal palpation’ drills on cows in Pakistani vet schools, the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Nasim Ahmad on Sunday said strict measures were being taken to ensure painless surgical procedures and training involving animals in the veterinary institutes.
PETA motto that reads “animals are not ours to experiment on...” opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview.
The appeal reads that PETA has just received a disturbing whistleblower report that students at the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (CVAS), Jhang, a UVAS sub-campus, and other veterinary colleges across Pakistan are using healthy, live cows and buffaloes to conduct invasive and painful training exercises.
In response, the group sent urgent letters to UVAS VC and the Pakistan Veterinary Medical Council (PVMC) President Prof Dr Masood Rabbani, urging them to adopt Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent Islamabad Capital Territory Reforms guidelines that prohibit the use of live animals in testing and surgical veterinary training and require switching to animal-free simulation models immediately.
According to the whistleblower report, at CVAS alone, more than 100 students a day use irritant solutions and rectally palpate cows and buffaloes, often forcefully. Two students reportedly inserted their entire arms, causing bleeding. Students also reportedly use artificial insemination rods daily, causing lacerations and bleeding to the animals’ reproductive organs. After their internal organs have been damaged, the animals are auctioned off for slaughter, the report says.
“Violating animals’ rectums and vaginas dozens of times a day until their bodies give out, after which they’re sold for slaughter, is barbaric,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is calling on Pakistan’s veterinary authorities to adopt and nationalise Prime Minister Sharif’s historic reforms that prohibit live testing of animals in veterinary colleges, and replace all painful, invasive exercises with superior and humane simulation models.”
Just last month, Gala, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk, and other representatives of the group held a historic meeting with Salman Sufi (head of PM’s Strategic Reforms Unit) to discuss veterinary school reforms and other issues. The meeting followed a shocking video footage showing dogs, who had reportedly been kidnapped from the streets, lying in pools of blood and excreta after being operated on without anesthetics, prompting Sufi to announce, “Live testing of animals in vet colleges and industrial complexes is banned from today in Islamabad Capital Territory.”
Among other strategies, the group discussed how to help veterinary schools switch to modern teaching tools, including the Bovine Breeder artificial insemination simulator and the SynDaver Surgical Canine — which allow students to practice critical skills without harming any animal. Other strategic reforms that the group is pursuing in potential collaboration with Sufi include replacing the use of animals in medical training and classroom dissection exercises, setting up a national non-animal research method database, modernising biomedical research through the group’s Research Modernization Deal, and establishing a school programme teaching empathy for animals.
Mr Ahmad further said the two to four percent errors would happen during the training because they lacked the latest machinery and surgical instruments to train the students.He said still most of the veterinary universities in the country were using traditional and primitive means for training the students.He said there were societies established in universities and on campuses to ensure painless surgical training and the errors were not repeated.
Sufi told Dawn that animal welfare law was part of Prime Minister’s Reforms programme that would soon be tabled.
He said since the matter was brought into his knowledge, the SRU is working on it and also held a discussion with the PETA officials in this regard.
Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2022
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