The Wisconsin Humane Society wants the Medical College of Wisconsin to stop using live dogs as guinea pigs in a physiology lab.

The medical college says using live animals rather than computer models is the best way to teach potential doctors how the body works.

Richard Katschke, the college's vice president for public affairs, says dogs are used because their cardiovascular system is very similar the human system.

Katschke says it's an approved medical practice. The purchase of about 60 dogs a year is regulated by the USDA and involves animals that are going to be destroyed anyway.

Katschke says these are not pets. These are dogs found in the wild. He says they are going to be put down anyway if not used for medical teaching.

The dogs are anesthetized and then surgically cut open so medical students can get a real life experience of how the cardiovascular system works. Once the lab is over the dogs are given a fatal dose of anesthesia.

Katschke says the medical school is investigating whether pigs could be a viable substitute for dogs.



AUDIO: Jim Dick reports ( 1:10 MP3 )

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