New Delhi: The killing of calves, frogs, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits to enable students of veterinary science to learn about their anatomy and hone their surgical skills is set to end.
The government has recently notified regulations which will change the way students are taught veterinary science.
The Veterinary Council of India Minimum Standards of Veterinary Education (Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry-Degree Course) Regulations, 2016 were notified on 8 July.
The regulations will phase out calf killing, introduce computer simulation, require an ethically sourced body-donation programme to be instituted, and usher in humane teaching methods.
The regulations emphasize use of films, charts and life-like models instead of animals.
“Dissection will be carried out on cadavers procured by way of donation of animals or animals obtained from post-mortem section, and the donated animals should be either incurable or in terminal stages and prosected specimens should be used. Within one year each college must set up a body-donation programme or wild body programme. Computer simulation software, models, mannequins, plastinated specimens, preserved body organs, models should be used for better understanding of the subject,” the regulations stated.
According to the regulations, the physiology practical, which required students to record a cardiogram of a live frog’s heart and study the effects of heat and cold on the animal, will be replaced with “simulation experiments on nerve-muscle and heart physiology”.
For pharmacology practicals, the regulations state that “simulated animal experiments should be preferred over use of live animals” and the lab for simulated experiments should be established within the span of one year.
Activists have for long sought techniques such as computer simulation, interactive CD-ROMs, films, charts and life-like models to teach students anatomy and complex biological processes. So it is no surprise that they welcomed the move.
“Veterinary students who want to dedicate their lives to alleviating animal suffering want to attend classes knowing that they won’t cause an animal to suffer. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) commends the Veterinary Council of India for working towards ending cruel uses of animals to teach veterinary science and fixing a common deadline for veterinary colleges to set up humane methods,” said Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs at PETA India.
Many students of veterinary science are uncomfortable with killing animals for dissection and experimentation. As per a PETA India survey among final-year students of Bombay Veterinary College in 2013, 63% said procedures such as terminal surgery and practicing painful techniques on living animals causes distress and takes a profound psychological toll on them.
Sixty-nine percent had suggested that there should be a policy allowing conscientious objection by students to the use of live animals in favour of more modern and humane techniques, while 73% agreed that ethically sourced body donations are effective replacements to killing healthy calves for anatomical studies