Animal Emotions

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Don't Let the Military Get Your Goat

"Live-tissue training" tortures goats, researchers cited for abuse

Just when you think you've heard everything, we now know that live goats are used and severely abused by the United States Coast Guard in what's called "live-tissue training" so "trainees can practice war zone emergency techniques." (There's a video here that is sickening.) Undercover footage, shot by an anonymous whistle-blower, "shows lopping shears and scalpels being used to inflict wounds and amputate the legs of anesthetized goats so trainees can practice war zone emergency techniques. In one scene, a goat is heard moaning. In another, a prone goat kicks, prompting a man attending to the animal to call for 'another bump' of anesthesia."

The footage of this abuse was delivered to the office of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA and others note there are other and better training methods that do not use live animals. While this organization moves people in myriad ways, the comments to this article are interesting in that even people who disagree with PETA find the torture of these animals to be inhumane and reprehensible. One comment reads, "I never thought I would see the day that PETA and I would be in agreement like this. Their recommendation to train in emergency rooms seems rational, well thought out, and an effective alternative." Another person wrote, "As much as I can't stand PETA, I agree with them on this subject. No way should this be happening!!! It is cruel and inhumane! This should be stopped IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!!"

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People disagree about what is permissible and not permissible in our use of other animals for purely human ends in "the name of science," but every now and again there is a general consensus that some of the ways in animals are heartlessly used are unacceptably inhumane and cruel. While not agreeing that the use of the goats is wrong, "Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited Tier 1 Group, the private military contractor that orchestrates the training, for inadequately anesthetizing and monitoring the goats." It was their second violation. Nonetheless, the Navy has awarded a $1.7 million contract to Tier 1 to use live pigs for trauma training exercises. 

Reading this article really irritated me. In other words, it got my goat. I hope it gets yours as well, metaphorically speaking, but we should all work so that the researchers don't get any more highly emotional and sentient goats (or pigs or other animals) to abuse. Please write your senators and representatives and ask them to stop this unnecessary research now. Goats don't like pain and suffering and don't suffer any less than dogs, and I'd like to believe that no one would allow a dog to be treated in these heinous ways. 

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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