SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Live-Surgery Practicals in Veterinary Education

Animals in Research, Testing and Teaching

SPCA advocates for the creation and use of educational resources that provide humane alternatives to live-surgery practicals, such as the use of ethically sourced cadavers and body parts and computer software and simulations.

An acceptable exclusion to the above is the involvement of veterinary students operating on animals under appropriate supervision and where that the surgery has a positive animal welfare benefit.

Our organisation is concerned that taking part in or observing live-surgery practicals on animals who do not need the surgery (whether followed by humane killing or recovery) can lead to desensitisation and a lessening of respect for animal life. Our organisation is also concerned about the negative impact to a student’s welfare when they are required to participate in these types of surgeries for a qualification. Where live-surgery practicals on animals who do not need the surgery take place, students should not be required to perform or watch the procedure. Students who wish to withdraw from watching or participating in these practicals should be respected without penalty, and acceptable and humane alternatives should instead be provided to allow those students to meet the requirements of the course.

SPCA opposes the practice of performing surgeries on live vertebrate and invertebrate animals in educational institutions for the purposes of teaching surgical techniques where surgical intervention has no benefit to the animal.

(See The 3Rs: Replacement, Reduction, Refinement for more information)

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