I wrote to Dr. Shapiro:
Thanks for the rapid response. I fully understand the need for cadavers. Everyone in the animal community is concerned about the source.
What are the USDA approved sites that you spoke of?
What are the companies involved?
Where do they get the cats? Are they ferals? Are they from Mexico as alleged and where they were obtained there, no one knows?
What is the method of euthanasia?
Has an effort beem made to aquire cats that were euthanized for medical reasons or behavioral (feral) problems?
Ed Muzika, Ph.D.
Dear Dr. Muzika:
I tried to get cats from our animal shelters (cats that are euthanized because no one wants them). I have been denied use of these animals (for political reasons). A waste of life in my opinion. At least if they have to be euthanized we should try to use them to educate others on how to save lives of our companion and other animals (my goal).
I am a strong supporter of neutering and spaying of feral cats, vaccinating them and re-releasing when possible (we have done this at Pierce). This greatly reduces the numbers of cats euthanized in our area.
Each year we try to obtain our cats at a reasonable price from one or more of the USDA approved sites. We choose these sites as we know there is government supervision in the method of obtaining the animals and their procedures used in euthanizing.
We also teach human anatomy at Pierce. For this class we use human cadavers. I have completed two post-doctoral studies in bio-ethics. At my Georgetown University study we measured the difference between numbers of students/animal used to teach anatomy. There was no significant difference between one and four students. There was significant difference after four students per cadaver. For that reason Pierce College purchases one cadaver per four students to minimize not only the cost but the numbers of animals required in teaching the necessary skills previously mentioned.
Be assured, I am an animal lover. I love cats, dogs and of course cows. I do not tolerate the mistreatment of any animals used in our program - including cadavers. Our faculty teaches modern animal welfare techniques. We constantly refine our teaching methods, our animal husbandry and our medicine to maximize the welfare of the animals under our charge.
I am off campus during the summer months. Should you have further questions, I should be returning to Pierce in September. I hope I have reassured you of our commitment to animal welfare at our institution.
Dr. Leland S. Shapiro, Director
Pre-Veterinary Science Program
Professor of Animal Sciences
L.A. Pierce College