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Lab Where Surgeons Practiced on Dogs Shut

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Animal-rights activists said Monday they are “thrilled” over the decision by doctors at UC San Diego to close a controversial dog lab, in which physicians practiced surgical techniques on canines.

The course had been offered for three years through UCSD’s Office of Continuing Medical Education. Despite protests, the course was conducted several times yearly at a cost of $300 per person.

“We had targeted the course since its inception and were supported in our efforts by physicians across the country,” said Jane Cartmill, associate director of San Diego Animal Advocates, which spearheaded the protests. “Many physicians argued that the course was unnecessary, was not educationally useful and had nothing to do with research.

“Really, we’re thrilled it’s closing. It’s like a Christmas present for animal rights’ groups.”

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Leslie Franz, a spokeswoman for UCSD, said the lab was closed because “additional security” and “additional administrative supervision"--in response to to the protests--made the projected fee for the course “completely prohibitive.”

Franz said the contract for the course was up, and UCSD officials determined that they could no longer offer it “on anything approaching a break-even basis.” Franz said enrollment had declined because of doctors obtaining such training elsewhere.

But animal rights activist Cartmill said it was “no coincidence” that the course was canceled before yet another scheduled protest tonight. She said the outcry had been aided by several national groups, including In Defense of Animals, the International Society for Animal Rights and Friends of Animals.

She credited “bad publicity” and “dwindling attendance” with killing the course, which was called Advanced Emergency Procedures Symposium.

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“Look, these people were practicing surgical techniques on dogs, then killing them,” Cartmill said. “But the course was criticized on two levels. Physicians were saying that doctors who couldn’t do such (surgical) procedures weren’t about to master them in two hours on a dog, then transfer the knowledge to a person. And, of course, many doctors felt the course was just wrong.”

She said dozens of San Diego physicians supported the effort, as did the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington. In August of last year, protests led to two members of Cartmill’s group being arrested on, among other charges, suspicion of trespassing.


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