Commend Army Medical Center for Ceasing Ferret Abuse

Target: Madigan Army Medical Center

Goal: Commend army medical center for ceasing teaching intubation on ferrets

The Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington recently confirmed that it has ceased using ferrets for pediatric intubation training.  Training will now be performed with modern simulators. Madigan’s new leadership undertook an internal review recently that determined lifelike infant-patient simulators can be used to teach intubation skills without harming any animals.

PETA headed a three year campaign with over 60,000 emails written to Madigan, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine claims that the use of ferrets for this purpose violates the Federal Animal Welfare Act, which improves animal care for those animals used in testing and experiments. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stating the intubations are repeated several times on the same animal, increasing the risk of bleeding and other complications. The new leadership at Madigan was finally prompted to review their practices and decided to make a change.

Ferret intubation, also known as endotracheal intubation, involves hard plastic tubes repeatedly forced down the animals’ delicate windpipes. It can cause bleeding, swelling, pain, scarring, collapsed lungs, and even death. It is used to teach students about intubation of small infants, especially premature infants. Officials at University of Washington School of Medicine say that premature babies is such a specialized field that students must learn more precision than nonanimal methods can provide. However, research shows that people trained on simulators, like what Madigan is switching to, are better at intubating babies than people trained in crude animal laboratories like has been previously used.

Unsurprisingly, the use of animals has been replaced with lifelike infant simulators by nearly every other civilian and military medical training facility in the country. Physicians for Responsible Medicine cites statistics that reveal more than 85 percent of teaching hospitals across the country do not use ferrets or any other animals in their pediatric programs. However, there are still some places, like the Lackland Airforce Base in Texas, that use animal intubation instead of simulators, which PETA is redirecting their efforts towards.

Ferrets are breathing more easily, quite literally, at Madigan. Commend Madigan for finally making the switch to teaching intubation on non-animal models instead of ferrets.


Dear Madigan Army Medical Center,

Thank you for ceasing your use of live ferrets to teach your students intubation. While ferrets may help students learn how to intubate small windpipes such as premature babies, it is potentially harmful to the animal and, as research has proven, not as effective as simulators.

I commend you for making the switch to not only improve the ferrets’ welfare, but to improve your students training as well. Ferrets lives will drastically improve when they are no longer being used as medical experiments.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: theblade28 via Wikimedia Commons

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