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February 12th, 2013 | By Alicia Silverstone

I’m really pleased to introduce a new series on The Kind Life, I want to be able to bring all of you the most urgent animal causes each month and ways that you can help that case, whether that be sending an email, making a phone call, signing a petition, or just sharing the post with some friends. To help with this, I’ve partnered up with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (who you all know as PETA). Once a month, one of their experts will be sharing about an urgent cause here on The Kind Life. Here’s our very first one from Justin Goodman, director of laboratory investigations:

Time to End the Military’s War on Animals

By Justin Goodman

Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has just made history for gender equality by lifting the military’s ban on women in combat. He’s also been presented with a rare opportunity by President Barack Obama to join one of his predecessors and leave a legacy of compassion for animals.

Exactly 30 years ago, PETA learned about U.S. military plans to obtain 80 live dogs from animal shelters, string them up, and shoot them with high-powered rifles for a crude “wound lab” to teach military personnel to treat traumatic injuries. PETA leaked the news to The Washington Post, and hours after a cover story ran, then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger—who was known for his fondness for his canine companion Kiltie—took swift and decisive action and scrapped the misguided plan. Soon, the military formally banned the use of cats, dogs, and primates in training drills, although the move did not protect the many other animals who were also tormented in these exercises.

Though PETA has since convinced the military to replace cruel training laboratories involving monkeys, cats, and ferrets in favor of humanlike simulators, today approximately 10,000 pigs and goats are still shot, stabbed, dismembered, and killed in archaic U.S. military training drills. But President Obama has just signed a bill that requires the Department of Defense (DoD)—which Panetta will still head until at least mid-February—to report to Congress by March 1, 2013, with a strategy and timeline for replacing these violent animal laboratories with modern non-animal methods such as lifelike human simulators that breathe, bleed, cry, and even “die.”

Last year, people were outraged when PETA released disturbing, never-before-seen undercover footage showing live goats as they were stabbed, had their organs yanked out, and had their limbs broken and cut off with tree trimmers during a military training drill, all while the animals moaned and kicked. This cruelty continues even though strikingly realistic simulators are available, military policy requires that they be used instead of animals whenever available, and more than three-quarters of our NATO allies don’t use any animals for this kind of training.

High-profile military veterans Oliver Stone, Bob Barker, and Gideon Raff as well as current and former military doctors and medics have called on the DoD to modernize its training program. A PETA staffer who is a former U.S. Navy medical specialist recently explained in The Huffington Post why using simulators for emergency medical training is better than tearing apart live animals.

Like Caspar Weinberger, Leon Panetta has been open about his affinity for animals. He recently posed with his loving golden retriever, Bravo, for a photo shoot in Esquire and told the magazine that having Bravo by his side during trying times helps reinforce “what life is really about.”

Write to Secretary Panetta

…and urge him to make compassion for all animals his swan song by recommending to Congress an immediate end to the use of animals in military training drills. Send a message here.

Do you have any questions for PETA that they can answer in their next update?



Justin Goodman is the director of laboratory investigations at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.



Photo source: / tintedglass

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