Ross University’s Treatment of Animals Prompts Lawsuit

Ross University Treatment of animalBy Ian Smith

Student suing Ross University for requiring to perform painful procedures on animals, contrary to statements made to her at registration.

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA(RushPRNews) 01/10/09—When Jamie Scott was considering veterinary schools, she asked the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine on the Caribbean Island of St. Kitts if she would be required to harm animals as part of her training. She says that she was assured by the university that she would not. She enrolled at the school, which is owned by DeVry Inc. and whose students are mostly American. But, to her horror, Scott was asked to perform medically unnecessary and painful procedures on live animals as a requirement for graduation. Then she was told that after several surgeries she would have to kill the animals she had cared for.

Scott is now suing Ross University. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) first heard about Ross University from several frantic students who had come to care for the dogs, sheep, goats, and donkeys they were forced to cut open repeatedly and then kill. Photographs taken by these students show sheep suffering from infected wounds caused by tissue removal and improperly sutured skin flaps—the results of surgeries performed by students who were not yet proficient.

After intense pressure from PETA, the university announced an end to unnecessary surgeries on dogs, sparing at least 100 dogs a year from suffering. (Please visit PETA’s Web site StopAnimalTests.com for more information.)

But Ross still requires its students to perform a variety of procedures on healthy sheep, donkeys, and goats. Students sever the nerves in donkeys’ toes, cut their ligaments, insert plastic tubes through their noses and into their stomachs, surgically puncture their abdomens, cut their tracheas, and remove fluid from their joints. Procedures such as these are the subjects of Scott’s lawsuit.

Ross University’s practices lag behind those of other veterinary schools. Killing healthy animals for veterinary training is illegal in the U.K., and most veterinary programs in the U.S. have already adopted humane teaching methods that do not require veterinary students to harm animals in the course of their education. Veterinary students can practice their skills on high-fidelity manikins in a manner similar to the way medical students learn to treat human patients. Students can also learn through clinical experience in which they assist experienced veterinarians with the treatment of animals who have genuine medical problems. In these programs, the interactions that students have with live animals are always to the benefit of the individual animals they treat.

Schools such as St. Matthew’s University on St. Kitts’ neighboring Grand Cayman Island have seen their academic reputations improve as they have adopted more humane curricula.

PETA continues to press Ross University to eliminate all unnecessary surgeries and instead use modern simulators, partner with nearby animal shelters to provide care for animals who are sick and injured, and, if possible, open a teaching hospital where students could benefit from helping island animals in need. Visit StopAnimalTests.com for more information.