Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Depends what your definition of "cruel" is, I suppose...

A real head-scratcher out of Oklahoma...

Students and officials at the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences are criticizing Madeleine Pickens, wife of billionaire T-Boone Pickens, for deciding against a $5 million dollar gift she was going to give to the Center. Mrs. Pickens had made some headlines when the gift was announced recently - but made even more headlines when she reportedly changed her mind after finding out about the school's veterinary practices, which she termed cruel.

According to Bridget Nash of the Enid News & Eagle, one student claims he was "shocked" at Mrs. Pickens' "misinformation" that a dog would be anethestitized maybe to "take out a kidney" then again to "break a leg." Sounds like he might have a point.

But the school's dean goes on to acknowledge “No more than two surgeries are performed on any dog,” he said in the statement. “Terminal dog surgeries are used at the majority of the United States veterinary colleges.”

Yikes. The reality is that most schools that still do terminal surgeries do only one surgery - and that many, if not most, vet schools are either in the process of, or have completely eliminated, live dog surgeries at all. (For more information, see

According to several of the students, the animals that the school purchases are going to be euthanized anyway, "so why not get something educational from it?”

Here's the best part: this student defends the school's practices as not cruel because the animals receive pain management after the first surgery. As for the second surgery:

“We don’t want them to suffer,” said Woodington, who said often, before euthanization, an animal is “spoiled” with a special treat, such as a cheeseburger. He said students become attached to the animals.

“It’s a very hard process for all of us,” he said.

Really? Very hard process? Why is that? Is that possibly because what the school - and YOU PERSONALLY ARE PARTICIPATING IN - is CRUEL????

C'mon kids. Anyone who is old enough to be in veterinary school is old enough to think for themselves. Whatever benefit there was to terminal animal surgeries in the past - before the advent of computer modeling and multiple other learning tools - now needs to be weighed against the fact that there now exists computer modeling and multiple other learning tools until students get to the point that they can begin practicing surgery just like any other surgeon. Moreoever, it is simply untenable that a practice which is good enough for medical students (not euthanizing just as a learning tool) is somehow not good enough for veterinary students.

Thank you. Mrs. Pickens, for at least trying to teach these students and this school the best lesson of all: compassion.


Chris said...

I'm still shocked that a person who, I presume, loves animals enough to go to veterinary school could kill a dog.

kelly g. said...

Good on Ms. Pickens. Hopefully, cruelty-free alternatives will allow the next generation of veterinarians to receive a good education while not snuffing out any sense of compassion they may have had before entering the field. The thought of Mr. Woodington one day operating on *my dogs* is chilling.

Stefani said...

Hurry for Ms. Pickens. I heard she was an animal lover. There need to be more people like her.

Sorin said...

Veterinarians aren't about "animal love"... Veterinarians exist out of a need for humans to have pets. A pet is an animal whom is stripped down to the state of a toy for the human's pleasure and entertainment. Veterinarians are not to blame, we humans, the ones of us that have pets, are to blame. The veterinarian is simply filling a job out of the general demand. If there is someone to blame, it's every adult that ever bought an animal.