Arluke, Arnold & Hafferty, Frederic. From Apprehension to Fascination with “Dog Lab”. The Use of Absolutions by Medical Students. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography.1996;25(2): 201-225


Forty-one first-year medical school students were interviewed regarding their expecta-tions of and experience in a physiology laboratory where live, anesthetized dogs were injected with drugs and surgically manipulated before being killed. Before going into lab, there was widespread uneasiness among most students regarding the moral implications of their anticipated use of dogs as experimental tools. However, students described the lab in very positive terms after going through it. The findings suggest that this change in attitude stems from the ability of students to neutralize the moral dirty work of "dog lab." The authors argue that this is possible because the students learn absolutions that permit denial of responsibility and wrongdoing.