Dear Mr. Muzika:
I am sorry, I must have hit the send button before finishing my typing. I purchase our cats through USDA approved sites.
They are preserved in non-formaldehyde preservatives (usually alcohol based). Feral cats are euthanized under the direction of a USDA veterinarian.
Cats are not used just to teach the geography of the cat. For that purpose, plastic models, coloring books and computer models could and are used. The cadavers are used similarly to those used in human medicine. We teach necropsy techniques, suturing, and system by system anatomy. At all times, during the lab, complete respect for the animals being used are enforced.
It would be highly unethical to have our students practice these techniques, for the first time, on someone's pet. Thus, we try to encourage their initial mistakes on something they cannot harm - a cadaver. From this class our students proceed to either graduate veterinary schools or more advance RVT courses and work on live animals (people's pets). I hope, as a fellow animal welfarist, you understand my use of these cadavers to help produce future RVTs and veterinarians who will rely on these skills to save other animal's lives.
When I took this very class, students were required to either find "road kill" or go to the slaughter house and purchase animals there. I believe the method Pierce College currently uses in teaching this comparative animal anatomy class, maximizes the respect for the animal cadaver as well as the hands-on skills required of our students. The 138 Pierce alumni, now practicing veterinary medicine (doctors of veterinary medicine) and the thousands of RVTs who went through our program can best attest to the value of using cadavers compared with not using them.
I might also point out that several students each semester take our lecture course without the lab. These students include our horse science and general animal science students who most likely will not be required to have the surgical skills taught with the cadavers. They simply need to learn basic anatomy. When learning only the geography of the body the plastic models and pictures suffice.
I hope I have sufficiently answered your concern and questions.
Dr. Leland S. Shapiro, Director
Pre-Veterinary Science Program
Professor of Animal Sciences
L.A. Pierce College
6201 Winnetka Ave. Box 202
Woodland Hills, CA 91371