US army pig shooting rouses protests

21-07-2008 | |

Despite opposition by animal activists, the US army proceeded to shoot live pigs and treat their gunshot wounds in a medical trauma exercise this week for soldiers headed to Iraq.

Maj. Derrick Cheng, spokesman for the 25th Infantry Division, said the training was conducted as scheduled under a US Department of Agriculture license and the careful supervision of veterinarians and a military Animal Care and Use Committee.

“It’s to teach Army personnel how to manage critically injured patients within the first few hours of their injury,” Cheng said.

The soldiers are learning emergency lifesaving skills needed on the battlefield when there are no medics, doctors or facility nearby, he said.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), however, said there are more advanced and humane options available, including high-tech human simulators.

In a letter, PETA urged the Army to end all use of animals, “as the overwhelming majority of North American medical schools have already done.”

Cheng said the exercise is conducted in a controlled environment with the pigs anesthetized the entire time. He had ‘no doubt whatsoever’ in the effectiveness of the instruction, which he called the best option available at the base.

No replacement
“Those alternative methods just can’t replicate what the troops are going to face when we use live-tissue training,” he said. “What we’re doing is unique to what the soldiers are going to actually experience.”

Cheng didn’t have details about the number of pigs, how they were acquired or the weapons involved in the training. The soldiers being trained are with the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, which is deploying to Iraq this year.

Related websites:
US Army
US Department of Agriculture

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