Cambridge under fire for use of euthanised dogs

Joanna Taylor 5 December 2016

The University has defended its use of euthanised dogs from American shelters in dissection practice after coming under fire from Cruelty Free International (CFI). 

The organisation conducted an investigation in which they discovered that Cambridge is one of three UK universities which buys dead dogs from American companies for veterinary students to examine. 

If stray and abandoned dogs go at least five days without being rehomed in some American pounds and shelters, they will be put down, embalmed, and sold to colleges and universities. 

Katy Taylor, CFI’s director of science and regulatory affairs commented: “We think the public will be horrified to learn that Cambridge University is actually importing the bodies of shelter dogs who have been killed because their five days is up and no-one has come forward to adopt them. 

“We urge Cambridge University to end this practice and instead join other veterinary medical schools by adopting an ethical policy.” 

However, a University spokesperson told Cambridge News that they are “committed to excellence in veterinary medicine” and that the use of animal cadavers is “essential” to students. 

“The source of the dead dogs is from the USDA licensed establishments that would otherwise dispose of the dogs to landfill sites, incineration or otherwise destroyed.” 

Because all of the dogs were “already destined” to be killed and would be disposed of if not used in medical training, “we believe this is an appropriate, ethical and humane way to source dogs for anatomical teaching”, he added. 

Many other universities use the bodies of dogs who have died from natural causes or were euthanised to prevent suffering from a terminal illness, Cruelty Free International claims. 

Cambridge, Nottingham, and the Royal Veterinary College are the exceptions, who all purchase euthanised dogs from the same commercial firm.