Bill to Restrict Animal Use in Military Training

By: Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division

On Sept. 25, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and U.S. Rep. Henry Johnson (D-Ga.) reintroduced the Battlefield Excellence trough Superior Training Act, or BEST Act (H.R. 3172/S. 1550), which would require only human-based methods to be used to train members of the U.S. armed forces in the treatment of severe combat injuries.

AVMA has been opposed to similar legislation in past Congresses due to the concern that this action would limit necessary training for members and may result in the needless loss of life or the inability to return to full functionality by injured service members.

Congress directed the Department of Defense in the 2013 Defense Authorization Act to submit a report on the Strategy to Transition to the Use of Human-Based Methods for Certain Medical Training. The DOD released its report earlier this year, finding that “until there are validated alternatives, the experience and confidence gained by the use of live animal model in teaching life-saving procedures cannot be substituted by other training methods.”

The current Senate version of the BEST Act (S. 1550) has new language that allows the secretary of defense to grant certain exceptions to the requirement of not using animal-based training methods when there are not human-based equivalents that are available. The House version does not include this language.

The AVMA will be reviewing the changes to this legislation and determining its position in the coming months.

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