Our organization – Doctors Against Animal Experiments Germany – is running an extremely successful project in Eastern Europe. In this project, we provide universities, mainly in Ukraine, with teaching materials based on non-animal methods. These include computer simulations, films, models and technical equipment. In return, the universities sign a contract agreeing to stop all animal experimentation in student training and education.
Under the Soviet regime up to the beginning of the 1990’s, a compulsory list of extremely cruel animal experiments had to be conducted as part of students’ practical university curriculum. Among these were Pavlov’s classic dog experiments where test tubes were surgically implanted in dogs to collect and measure their saliva. Brain operations on cats were carried out, and rats were burned to death by electrical currents without being anesthetized.
In dieser Zeit des Umbruchs besteht ein großes Potential, Praktika tierverbrauchsfrei zu gestalten und damit direkt Tierleben zu retten. Viele Hochschullehrer halten zwar weiter an den herkömmlichen Methoden fest, andere sind aber sehr empfänglich für fortschrittliche Lehrmittel aus dem Westen.
The break-up of the Soviet Union and the ensuing independence of former Soviet bloc countries, gave the universities more freedom in shaping practical training and education. At the same time, many of the countries experienced great economic difficulties. This led to a reduction of animal experiments because the animals cost too much money. Only frogs and dogs were, and still are, almost infinitely available. Students were (are) simply asked to go and catch some animals.
In this time of change, there exists great potential for establishing non-animal based education at universities, thus directly saving the lives of many animals. On one hand, many university teachers continue to stick to the old, traditional methods, however, others are very open to modern teaching methods and materials from the West.
Since the beginning of our project in April 2008, we have concluded contracts with the heads of 35 institutes in 15 cities in Ukraine. This means that 35,000 animals have been saved from a painful death at Ukrainian universities. In addition, we have supported several projects in Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Also, our organization has financed the development of educational films in Russian and has raised public awareness about animal-free research for modern and humane medicine through press conferences and media reports.
The universities in Ukraine are very poorly equipped. This gives our donations a real incentive quality. Coupled with this incentive, we work very hard to convince and win our cooperation partners over to practicing modern animal-free research and medicine. The fact that computer simulations and models are not only ethically preferable, but also better suited as educational tools for students has become known in the former Soviet countries.
In Germany, however, this path is not possible. Not the money is missing; it is the political will to make a change. In contrast, the Eastern Europe project is very encouraging. It gives us the confidence that we can achieve much more. Every animal experiment which is prevented not only saves animal lives, but also slows down the spiral of violence against animals at universities. Students who work with computer models instead of cutting off heads of living frogs learn responsible behavior towards animals. Maybe later on in life, they will feel scruples about doing animal experiments.
We are grateful for the support of Animal Welfare Foundation Wolfgang Boesche. The foundation’s support has enabled us to sign contracts with 3 further Ukrainian institutes in Ternopil, Vinnitsa and Donetsk to whom we have donated animal-friendly teaching materials. Thus every year, 5,690 animals, mainly frogs and rats, are saved from dying a very painful death.
Ternopil State Medical University
After we supplied the Institute of Physiology at Ternopil State Medical University with animal-free teaching methods in 2011, we were approached by university teacher Yulia Vadzuk from the Institute for Clinical Pharmacology.
Her boss Ivan Klesh, head of the institute, was initially very skeptical about non-animal teaching methods. He wanted to wait for the experience of his colleagues from the Institute of Physiology. Thanks to their extremely positive assessment, by the end of 2012, he was ready to make the change.
In January 2013, our Ukrainian project leader, the biologist Dimitrij Leporskij, made an initial visit to the university. There, he witnessed very cruel animal experiments still being carried out as part of the institute’s educational program. Rats were operated without being sufficient anesthetized.
Now finally, these cruelties belong to the past. Already 4 weeks later, a contract was signed, and the institute received a laptop, models and many computer programs from us. A yearly number of 105 rats, guinea pigs and pigs will not be tortured to death any more.
Vinnitsa National Medical University
Professor Mikhail Pushkar, head of the Institute of Histology at Vinnitsa National Pirogov Memorial Medical University, asked us for help. He wanted to produce new histological slides since the old ones had become unusable. However, he wanted to know how he could do this without killing a lot of animals including dogs and cats. So, he asked us about animal-free options.
Histology is the study of tissues. Using computer simulations is a great way to learn histology. We donated a laptop, several CDs and a collection of 100 human tissue slides to Professor Pushkar.
He was very happy with the high quality of the computer programs and especially pleased about the human tissue samples. For a medical university, it makes more sense to study human histology slides rather than from animals. 245 vertebrate animals and 100 invertebrate animals of different kinds are not going to be killed now.
Donetsk National Medical University
Professors do not always come to us of their own volition. There are numerous university teachers who prefer to stick to traditional animal experiments rather than to switch over to modern teaching methods.
Donetsk Medical University in eastern Ukraine is such a difficult case. However, ultimately we have the more convincing arguments.
According to media reports, the dogs were operated in surgery courses at the university without being fully anesthetized. When we heard about this, we became active immediately. However, all our attempts at making contact failed initially. Then a year later, finally there came a reaction.
Igor Zinkovich, the new dean of the university, expressed interest in animal-free teaching methods and materials. As a first step, he closed down the dog facilities. So, the horrific prison cells in which the dogs were kept are history now. Still, countless rats and frogs continued to be killed in cruel animal experiments.
When Dimitrij Leporskij, our project partner, visited Donetsk Medical University for the first time in October 2012, he was aware that he would be facing very strong resistance.
A progressive dean is good, but he is not the only decision maker. All of the institutes were still headed by the same heads who favored animal experiments. They reacted by holding presentations and lectures, claiming that animal experiments were “absolutely necessary”. But Dimitrij also had much to say and even more to show. His presentations of animal-friendly teaching materials evoked astonishment. Nobody had expected such high quality computer models. This broke down some of the defenses, and it was decided to start on a pilot project. Valery Kazakov, director of the Institute of Physiology, agreed to stop all animal experiments from his course and accept our help in making this changeover.
If this pilot project is successful, hopefully, other institutes will follow suit and turn to animal-friendly teaching methods and materials.
In this institute alone, an unbelievable number of animals become victims of completely outdated teaching methods every year. Altogether these are 4,400 frogs, 600 rats, 180 rabbits and 60 guinea pigs. While the frogs are still alive, their heads are cut off with scissors in order to demonstrate how their organs work, specifically muscles, heart and intestine.
We donated a laptop, a video projector, several surgical models and a great number of computer programs and videos. From now on, every year, 5,240 animals will be saved from dying a horrible death.
Happy with Animal-Free Teaching Methods and Materials
After about one year, we will visit the institutes again to check if they are fulfilling the agreements we have made with them.
Also, we always stay in regular contact with all of “our” university teachers in order to clear up problems or issues arising. To make sure that animal experiments are not “secretly” brought back, it is absolutely important for teachers to be happy with the alternatives we provide them with.
Sometimes, we have to get additional or different teaching materials. However, normally the changeover to animal-free teaching works out very well for both sides.
We will continue to do everything in our power to get more institutes in Eastern Europe to follow these positive examples and become animal-free teaching institutes.
Many thanks to Animal Welfare Foundation Wolfgang Bösche for making these life-saving projects at the 3 universities possible.
For more information about our organization and this project: