Pereira GD, Dieguez J, Demirbas YS, Menache A. Alternatives to animal use in veterinary education: A growing debate. Ank. Univ. Vet. Fak Derg. 2017;64:235–239


There is a strong case to be made to teach veterinary students without resorting to the use of animals in teaching in the first place, although some authorities may disagree. It is worth examining this issue in light of new developments and new knowledge in the field of cognitive animal ethology as well as a general increase in awareness and concern for animal welfare. The teaching of concepts related to bioethics and animal welfare is increasingly relevant to modern day veterinary medicine. Unfortunately, some veterinary faculties do not emphasize these topics in their curricula. The authors consider that it is possible to largely replace animals in teaching, with other modalities. Transition from the use of replacement modalities, such as the handling of synthetic tissues, to treating living animals should be gradual and be complemented by exposure to a clinical environment in which real animal patients will benefit from the practice. The initial basic courses and procedures should include the use of synthetic models and computer simulations, followed by the study of ethically sourced animal cadavers. Only after this stage should the student be exposed to real patients. This pedagogic approach will allow the student to obtain the necessary skills required for clinical medicine, in addition to fostering a respect for sentient beings. The combination of good clinical skills and a respect for life will contribute in a positive way to raising professional and ethical standards in the profession for the benefit of all concerned.