WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Animal rights activists say the use of live pigs in trauma training by non-profit health system UPMC in Pennsylvania violates the federal Animal Welfare Act.
A complaint filed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine with the U.S. Department of Agriculture says UPMC is one of only 11 medical facilities left in North America, out of 225 that offer trauma training, that still uses live animals in the training, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday.
"We believe that this animal use is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act because there are non-animal training methods available that are educationally equivalent or superior," the complaint sent to the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Services said.
USDA spokesman David Sacks said an inspector will be sent "in the near future" and make sure UPMC is complying with the law and following procedures that demonstrate it is properly caring for the animals and that it has looked at alternatives.
"Our focus is on the welfare of the animals we regulate. It's not on telling the registrants what kind of research to conduct or how they conduct their experiments," Sacks said. "We're not taking an ideological stand on anything."
UPMC holds six to eight of the trauma training courses a year involving about 16 physicians working on one pig for every four doctors.
The pigs are euthanized after the training is completed, the Post-Gazette reported.