Media Contact: Ian Demsky

U-M update on use of animals in Survival Flight training

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - A recent blog post by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) accuses U-M of “lying” about the fate of cats used in courses to train nurses in our Survival Flight program.

In August, we corrected information on our Animal Research website about the disposition of cats used in Survival Flight training after discovering an unintentional error. We made this correction as soon as we discovered the error.

As the website states, the correct information is that from 2002 through July 2011, of the 23 cats used in training, seven were euthanized and the remaining 16 cats were adopted into new homes. (See:

The cats were adopted out whenever possible, but medical conditions, behavioral problems or the inability to find a new home prevented some adoptions.

Our primary concern has been and continues to be providing the best training for our flight nurses so that they, in turn, will be fully ready to provide life-saving care to critically ill patients.

At the same time, U-M is committed to the principles known as the “3 Rs” – reducing the number of animals used to the minimum necessary, replacing the use of animals with other options whenever possible, and refinement of practices to ensure the most humane conditions possible.

Consistent with these principles, over the past several months, our ongoing discussions and evaluations have led to a policy change.

Starting in the summer, we developed a new program for intubation training which no longer requires us to rely on cats and which will use simulators instead. No cats have been used in training since July and we have no plans to use them in the future.

Surgical skills training will continue to use pigs because we have not found a simulator that we feel can adequately replicate the experience of performing certain procedures, like inserting a chest tube to inflate a patient’s collapsed lung.

This fall we also discontinued our use of Class B (random-source) cats and dogs except in a few focused areas where the age, genetic, or health diversity found in random-source animals is required for the scientific research.

We invite the general public to learn more about the use and care of animals in research and training at U-M, and the lifesaving work that depends on the responsible use of animals. Please visit

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