Posted by: animalvoice | September 22, 2009

Animals: Casualties of OUR Military

            To those of you new to my blog, so far it’s been pretty mild, from an animal activist point of view. Well except for a couple of entries where I ranted about Michael Vick and his return to the NFL, because I just had to. But other than that my blog has mainly centered about my three children of the four-legged variety. I’ve coined the term ‘quadra-peds’. Anyhow my intention for this blog is to delve into some very serious animal issues that most people are not aware of. If that offends you then I’m sorry. But don’t despair I promise I’ll insert some humorous ‘tails’ of my cats to break up the seriousness of the blog. 

            Did you know that our military trains its medics by using live animals? They don’t broadcast it because after all, don’t they face enough negative publicity? To animal activists it is a travesty that must be exposed.  

            There was an episode on Grey’s Anatomy last season that dealt with this very subject (Season 5, episode 6, ‘life during wartime’). One of the doctors, a trauma surgeon recently back from Iraq, conducted a skills lab for the residents and interns. It was a training session where they would learn by ‘working with live tissue’. The live tissue turned out to be four anesthetized live pigs on operating tables. Horrified the doctors watched the surgeon pull out a knife and mutilate each of the pigs in various areas of their bodies. He then told the doctors to work as teams to save the pigs.         

            Isabel Stevens, portrayed by Katherine Heigl (an animal activist in real life) refused to take part in the exercise. Her character informed the surgeon that with today’s technology there is no need to torture live creatures. She goes so far as to call him a ‘monster’ and then later ‘a murdering sadistic bastard.’

            One resident and four interns take part in the exercise and manage to keep all four pigs alive. At the end of the day the surgeon comes back to see their work, he congratulates them and then tells them to kill the pigs. The resident balks at the mere suggestion. Ironically the surgeon says, “They’ll be in pain, those are massive injuries which will require months of recovery. To keep them alive after that is not humane.”

            Naively I thought that the writers went to extreme measures to allow Katherine Heigl to highlight her animal activism. After doing some research I realized that this actually happens in this country.

            In fact the Department of Defense (DoD) actually has three videos on YouTube showing graphic ‘combat trauma training courses’ which are claimed to improve military medicine. The U.S. military blatantly disregards the lives of pigs, goats and Vervet monkeys in these videos without any remorse. The pigs and goats are subjected to severe injuries including stab wounds, gunshot wounds, burns and amputations before they are killed. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense injects the Vervet monkeys with a toxic dose of the drug physostigmine (a nerve gas) which induces seizures, difficulty breathing and eventually death. In that video the students and trainer merely stand there and watch as the monkey suffers a seizure and starts to go into respiratory distress. That is nothing short of an abomination and beyond inhumane. The instructor specifically states that the “primary function of the exercise is observation.” I for one would like to observe that trainer experience a seizure and respiratory distress for a similar injection. The link for this video is and the other videos can be reached from the same link. Please be advised that the videos are very graphic and as shocking as any PETA video I’ve ever watched.

            On June 3, 2009, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) submitted a legal petition to Department of Defense officials asking them to exercise their authority to require that existing alternative methods that could immediately replace the use of live animals. See

            The Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps and the Israel’s Carmel Medical Center have developed a non-animal training curriculum which includes lectures, simulation training, and the use of moulage (actors apply makeup and mimic the symptoms of the chemical warfare casualties). The irony of Middle Eastern countries using more humane methods than the U.S. is not lost on me. It shouldn’t be lost on you either.

            In this country, a professor at Harvard, who is also a doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, has organized numerous scenarios that simulate mass casualty incidents and nerve gas attacks. Similar models are used through the U.S. to prepare personnel for mass casualty incidents in the instance of a terrorist attack. In my opinion, the U.S. military’s use of the live animals is nothing more than a terrorist attack against animals.

            To skeptics who wonder exactly how much of a problem this is, in 2007 alone, more than 5,000 live goats and 3,500 live pigs were used and killed in combat trauma training courses at Fort Sam Houston, Fort Bragg, and elsewhere. So, approximately 9,000 animals give up their lives each year, for military training purposes, when they don’t have to.

            The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has also jumped on the bandwagon by pointing out that neither the Air Force Expeditionary Medical Skills Institute’s Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills nor the Navy Trauma Training Center use animals for trauma training – “more proof that it is not necessary to use animals in order to teach these treatment skills.” I’d really like somebody to explain to me why the Army is so different.

            PETA has a petition that will be sent to President Barrack Obama asking him for an executive order requiring the DoD to replace the use of animals in trauma and chemical-casualty training exercises with available non-animal methods. As of this writing on September 21, 2009, I am one of 20,742 signatures on that petition. discusses the situation and links you to the petition which is actually through a cause on Facebook. The petition can be reached directly on Facebook at  PETA also has a letter online that people can sign to be forwarded to their local Congressperson. The letter can be found at

            I, of course being a writer, an attorney, a lover of all animals, a parent of three cats, and a former EMT, had to sign the letter. I took the liberty of changing and adding language to personalize it though.  

            So I ask you, if you are an animal lover go to the PETA website and sign the petition, and the letter to your Congressperson. Go to the PCRM website and read their petition and look at the videos.

            Animals are innocents without a voice. We must be that voice for them. Help me be that voice.



  1. Submitted on 2009/09/22 at 12:49pm

    Thank you for the info and for reading the blog.

  2. Submitted on 2009/09/22 at 12:30pm

    Actually there is more to this as it was Katherine Heigl who wanted to raise this issue of responsible medicine and the script was rewritten as a result. Read more here:

  3. Why does PETA bitch about stuff like this, and at the same time kill 97% of the animals in their care instead of finding homes for them??

    This comes from their own records….yep, PETA’s records are public.
    I find it pretty sick they bitch about the way others treat animals, while at the same time they are likking them by the truck-loads.

    I really hope you leave this comment up for all others to see instead of deleting it as so many others have.

    I have to agree with you on the Michael Vick thing, no dog should have to be treated like that.
    The court imposed fines and punishments, the man paid his dues.
    I hope he learnt his lesson.


  4. Raven,

    I respect your opinion and have no intention of deleting your comment. This blog is meant to have a healthy debate about issues involving animals. I’ve learned that people have very strong feelings about these subjects. I admit that I don’t always agree with all of PETAs methods but atleast it does bring serious issues to the forefront. This was one of those issues for me and that is why I felt I had to address it.

    As for Michael Vick no amount of punishment will make up for what he did to those DOGS. I fear that his ‘contrition’ has more to do with being able to play football again, than it is about him having learned his lesson.

    That’s for reading and come back soon. There will be more issues raised in future blog entries.

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