New Jersey medical center reportedly uses live dogs for training

Ads popping up in New Jersey Transit train stations have accused a medical center of using live dogs in training.

New Jersey paper Daily Record reported that Washington-based group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) announced the campaign on Tuesday. They have both the train station ads and a billboard near the Newark Airport dedicated to the ads.

The ad features an upset dog with the text "Morristown Medical Center: Don't kill man's best friend for medical training." It then points to the website NewJerseyDeservesBetter.org.

Credit: William Westhoven

In the PCRM's announcement of the campaign, they denounce the medical center's practices.

"At Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey, emergency medicine residents are taught procedural skills using live dogs," the statement said. "Trainees are instructed to make incisions, insert a tube into a dog's chest cavity, crack open the breastbone in order to access the heart, and insert or drill a needle into the animal's bones. At the end of each training session, the animals are killed."

According to the PCRM, 89 percent of these centers in the United States use non-animal training methods. They manage to not harm humans or animals.

The Morristown Medical Center, however, says that for the most part they use donors for training. "All emergency medicine residents training onsite at Morristown Medical Center use medical donors or human simulators to learn about and practice commonly seen procedures and techniques," said Morristown Medical Center spokesperson Elaine Andrecovich.

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They do not deny, however, that on occasion they use "live tissue." Andrecovich continued, "For a small number of rare, life-saving procedures uncommonly seen in the emergency department — let alone during a residency — our emergency-medicine residents attend one four-hour lab program at an off-site facility not affiliated with (hospital operators) Atlantic Health System or located on any Atlantic Health System property. Though comparable, medical donors and simulators are not the physiological or anatomical equivalent of live tissue. This program allows them to practice these complicated, potentially life-saving procedures on live tissue."

Andrecovich said that this medical center adheres to all laws and regulations. Dr. John Pippin, the PCRM's director of academic affairs, disagrees with Andrecovich's view. "Morristown Medical Center's use of live dogs makes it a laggard in emergency medicine training, as well as an embarrassment to the town of Morristown," he said.

He continued, "I strongly urge Morristown Medical Center to advance its emergency-medicine training and switch to the educationally superior methods that are based exclusively on human anatomy. This change would be welcomed by the millions of dog-loving residents of New Jersey who will be appalled by this practice."

In an update on Friday, Andrecovich made a statement to AOL.com: "There are not and never have been dogs onsite, the previous program used four animals annually and that effective immediately; we are using cadavers and simulators."