Dec 31, 2012
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We are dissecting canine cadavers in gross anatomy, and I find it a bit emotionally disturbing. All the dogs look young and healthy, and I wonder what their stories are. Who are they, where did they come from, and how did they end up on the dissection table? Do all vet schools use cadavers? Does this bother anyone else or is it just me?
 
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katryn

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If you are the type of person who wants to know more, you can probably ask your anatomy professor or lab director. All of UTK's dissection cadavers come from the local shelters, but they are animals that were euthanized for other reasons and then donated to the lab.
 
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CalliopeDVM

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We are dissecting canine cadavers in gross anatomy, and I find it a bit emotionally disturbing. All the dogs look young and healthy, and I wonder what their stories are. Who are they, where did they come from, and how did they end up on the dissection table? Do all vet schools use cadavers? Does this bother anyone else or is it just me?
I'm sure your school has specific rules regarding sources of cadavers, so you should be able to find out where they come from. Probably not the individual animal's personal story, but at least their source.

Personally, it never occurred to me, but it's not wrong to wonder, either.
 

WildZoo

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Not vet school, but my undergrad got their cat cadavers for vertebrate morphology lab from shelters (already euthanized and donated). I imagine many vet schools get their cadavers the same way. I haven't heard of a vet school yet that doesn't use cadavers.

If it helps, you can think of these animals as giving their bodies to help other animals, since they are used to teach future vets. They were euthanized anyway, but now they get to serve a greater purpose than they would have otherwise.
 

CalliopeDVM

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If it helps, you can think of these animals as giving their bodies to help other animals, since they are used to teach future vets. They were euthanized anyway, but now they get to serve a greater purpose than they would have otherwise.
That was exactly the way I thought about it.

You may want to read the book "Stiff" by Mary Roach.....the subtitle is "The curious life of human cadavers". A very interesting book and very well written (in humourous style, but without making fun) of "the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings."
 

Sit_Hollie_Good_Dog

VMCVM Class of 2019
We are dissecting canine cadavers in gross anatomy, and I find it a bit emotionally disturbing. All the dogs look young and healthy, and I wonder what their stories are. Who are they, where did they come from, and how did they end up on the dissection table? Do all vet schools use cadavers? Does this bother anyone else or is it just me?
I asked on the first day of lab. Actually I was surprised no one else did. We get our cadavers from Carolina Biological which is a Class B dealer. They probably buy the cadavers from shelters but from what I gather, Class B dealers can acquire cadavers from "random sources". I personally am not a fan of the dissections in general but other students love doing it.
 

stenodactylus

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I love doing dissections. Any opportunity that comes up to do a dissection, I've jumped on it. I think its a way better way to learn anatomy than any virtual tool. Before vet school, I worked at a shelter and part of my job was euthanasia technician so I feel like I'm ahead of the curve when it comes to handling emotions regarding euthanasia and deceased animals.

I just assume any of the dogs we've had in vet school have the same story as the other dogs I've euthanized whose bodies just end up in a barrel then tossed in the incinerator: got as a puppy by someone who didn't train them or socialize them, then didn't have time for them/moved to a place that didn't have dogs when the dog was about 2 then took them to the pound. That to me is far more sad than a dog's body being used to educate future vets. The euthanasia of healthy *adoptable* animals upsets me, not the usage of their bodies. But thats why I want to be a shelter vet anyway.
 

DrLawyerIndianChief

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My brother-in-law is an exotic (no, NOT erotic) vet.....only one in my area. I am going to ask him about the vet school "cadavers". If he answers the same as you, I will go postal! OMG...perhaps I should become an angel of death & euthanize patients! Surely most of the geriatric & juvenile patients fit this category. I know...perhaps I will return to law & merely ensure death penalties for defense cases. Way too easy being a Prosecutor.
 

DrLawyerIndianChief

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I love doing dissections. Any opportunity that comes up to do a dissection, I've jumped on it. I think its a way better way to learn anatomy than any virtual tool. Before vet school, I worked at a shelter and part of my job was euthanasia technician so I feel like I'm ahead of the curve when it comes to handling emotions regarding euthanasia and deceased animals.

I just assume any of the dogs we've had in vet school have the same story as the other dogs I've euthanized whose bodies just end up in a barrel then tossed in the incinerator: got as a puppy by someone who didn't train them or socialize them, then didn't have time for them/moved to a place that didn't have dogs when the dog was about 2 then took them to the pound. That to me is far more sad than a dog's body being used to educate future vets. The euthanasia of healthy *adoptable* animals upsets me, not the usage of their bodies. But thats why I want to be a shelter vet anyway.
Dang...got so freaked I stopped reading prior to the end. Bravo for you! And any vet that would euthanize a healthy animal needs to be him/herself euthanized & put out of MY misery!
 

bam15

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Yeah...DrLawyerIndianChief, I really hope you aren't in this profession or don't plan on being in it long.
 

pinkpuppy9

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That was exactly the way I thought about it.

You may want to read the book "Stiff" by Mary Roach.....the subtitle is "The curious life of human cadavers". A very interesting book and very well written (in humourous style, but without making fun) of "the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings."
Loved that book!

I'm not sure where we get our cadavers, but our fresh tissues come from the local shelter. To me, the fresh tissues are a bit more unsettling. I let my mind wander and I start to think things like "well, what if the right family came in today and you could have gotten a home?" I know not all shelter-euthanized dogs are just for space reasons, but still. Like everyone else is saying, the best way to think about it is that the one dog for your lab group just taught 4 (in my case) future doctors all about dog anatomy. Without that one dog, you'd be lost for the rest of your four years.

My cadaver probably has an interesting/sad story. We're thinking she was a bait dog since all of her teeth are cut pretty close to her gums...she's got some scarring and we're also thinking she either recently pupped or was about to. It's sad when you suspect they didn't have much of a good life.

I like the aspect of dissecting and learning, but the latex and the preservative used really do bother me quite a lot. It makes for a lot of "What's wrong, why are you crying!?" "I'm not sad, I appreciate the concern, I'm just having cadaver issues."
 

Lab Vet

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Wait until second semester (LA anatomy). The formalin fumes will knock your socks off. First semester was tolerable, second semester- my lungs literally burned retrieving carcasses from the cooler :)
 

Starry-chan

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That was exactly the way I thought about it.

You may want to read the book "Stiff" by Mary Roach.....the subtitle is "The curious life of human cadavers". A very interesting book and very well written (in humourous style, but without making fun) of "the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings."
I read this book! :) I'll never forget how it talked about cadavers like they are heroes. My dad's body was donated to help further medical research, so it's nice to think of him as a hero too.
 
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