005_dissctionWhile dissection in itself is not inhumane, there are some animal welfare implications. For instance, animals may be mistreated as they are procured and handled before being killed to become preserved specimens. Non-animal techniques provide cost-effective methods with many benefits to both the student and teacher – besides the obvious benefits to the animals!

For centuries, animals have been used as models to aid in teaching about the human body. Since there were no alternatives at the time, students needed to cut open the animals to expose the internal organs. For the past several decades, however, it has been recognized that the outdated “look-cut-draw-label-memorize” approach does not encourage serious scientific inquiry. The advancement of new technology has now led to other, more advanced methods and to new discoveries about how the method of study influences students.

The use of alternatives such as software and physical models is showing up in many unexpected places. The University of Calgary Veterinary College is using resin models to help veterinary students learn how to practice medicine on horses, cows, pigs, dogs and other animals. Read about it in the November 20, 2014 issue of the Western Producer.

Also, check out this TED talk on a virtual dissection table.