Veterinary Science Student Preferences for the Source of Dog Cadavers Used in Anatomy Teaching
Catherine Tiplady, Shan Lloyd and John Morton
Live animals and cadavers are integral to veterinary education. In the year of this survey (2008), and in at least the five preceding years, cadavers obtained by euthanasia of healthy pound dogs and ex-racing greyhounds were dissected by students, during their veterinary anatomy classes at the University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science. Students may have ethical concerns about this. An alternative approach was to use donated dog cadavers. These are owned pet dogs that have died of natural causes or have been euthanised for medical reasons, and have been donated by their owners for the purposes of veterinary education. Veterinary students at the School were surveyed in 2008, in order to determine their preferences for cadaver source. Data from 406 questionnaires were analysed. Third-year and fifth-year veterinary students were more likely than first-year students to prefer pound-dog/greyhound cadavers over donated cadavers for anatomy dissection (p ≤ 0.002). Between 32% and 45% of the students had no preference for either source of cadaver. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that veterinary students become more accepting of the euthanasia of unwanted healthy animals for education as they progress through the veterinary programme, in contexts such as the current study. This could occur due to increased acceptance of the euthanasia of healthy animals generally, a decline in moral development, desensitisation, and/or the belief that healthy animal cadavers offer a superior learning experience.