- Associated Press - Thursday, April 6, 2017

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Doctors who organized a protest Thursday at North Dakota State University are offering to pay for a surgical simulator if the school stops using live animals for its trauma-life support training.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said it will pick up the $3,235 tab for the TraumaMan simulator if the university and Sanford Health stop using live pigs for the course. The advocacy group has been working for the last decade to stop the practice, and North Dakota State is one of the few programs that still use live pigs.

University spokeswoman Sadie Rudolph said the school is not aware of the offer. Kelly Rusch, a vice president for research and creative activity, said in a statement that the exercise meets all federal guidelines.

“NDSU remains committed to provide for the health and well-being of animals in our care, as well as committed to our mission as a teaching institution,” Rusch said.

About 10 people gathered for the start of Thursday’s protest across the street from the NDSU campus. Some held up signs that read, “End Animal Labs” and “Modernize Medical Training.”

It was the latest in a long line of protest efforts by the nonprofit group. It asked the Fargo city attorney in 2011 to launch a criminal investigation into the program, saying the state’s animal cruelty statute prohibits any act that causes unjustifiable pain, suffering or death. Before that, the group unsuccessfully lobbied the hospital and state political officials.

“The best way to teach emergency procedures is with human-relevant methods, not animals,” said Dr. John Pippin, the group’s spokesman.

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