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Coast Guard members did nothing wrong when they conducted medical training that included dismembering a live goat, the service concluded May 1 after a yearlong investigation.
The Coast Guard came under fire from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which obtained video of a combat lifesaver class conducted at an off-base site in Virginia Beach, Va. In it, contracted instructors are seen cutting off the limbs of goats with tree trimmers, and one is seen repeatedly stabbing a goat with a scalpel. The goat’s internal organs can be seen protruding from its belly. The injuries were intended to replicate ones seen in combat, and the Coasties were tasked with treating them.
“I find that no misconduct was committed by any Coast Guard members,” said Vice Adm. Manson Brown, the deputy commander for mission support for the Coast Guard, in a memo regarding the investigation. The memo added that officials uncovered zero evidence that “personnel violated any law, regulation or standard of conduct while participating in the mandated training.”
The Coast Guard, however, plans to review its policies to make sure they are aligned with the Department of Homeland Security and Defense Department. It is also considering alternatives to reduce or eliminate the use of live animals in training.
In the video, moaning from the animals can be heard and one goat is also seen jerking its limbs, prompting PETA to say the animals were not properly anesthetized. The memo states that one instructor anesthetized the goats, but a student told investigators he did not think one person giving anesthesia was enough. The animals were killed after the training.
PETA also took issue with the attitude of some of the 32 Coasties involved in the the training. In the video some of the people in the background are heard whistling and laughing.
“That kind of behavior is callous and unprofessional,” said Justin Goodman, director of laboratory investigations for PETA.
Tier 1 Group LLC conducted the CLS course in March 2012. “Live tissue training,” in which animals are used as “patients” is required before Coasties deploy to U.S. Central Command. The memo states that 29 of the 32 Coasties in the class were preparing to deploy to Iraq.
PETA has not given up its fight and, ina letter to Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp on May 3, called for the service to immediately end the use of live animals in CLS training.
The Department of Agriculture cited the contractor for violation of the Animal Welfare Act after reviewing the 2012 video.