Tag Archives: Goats

Modernize U.S. military medical training to save lives and money

By Doris Browne, M.D., M.P.H.

Nearly 100 Republicans and Democrats have come together in support of an important bill — Rep. Hank Johnson’s (D-Ga.) Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act (H.R. 1243).

If enacted, this bill would help doctors, medics and others save the lives of injured military service members by replacing ineffective and expensive trauma-training drills on animals with superior and less costly human simulation models.

I am a service-disabled veteran who spent nearly 28 years as a physician in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and I currently serve as president-elect of the National Medical Association. I support this effort to modernize military medical training.

Many military medical personnel currently receive Cold War-era training that involves inflicting traumatic injuries on pigs and goats to learn how to repair injuries in humans. Some animals have very different anatomies from humans, which can inhibit successful translation of medical skills across species.

For instance, goats have 13 sets of ribs as opposed to 12 sets in human beings. Compared with humans, goats and pigs have smaller torsos, thicker skin and major differences in internal organs. Goats have a four-chamber stomach compared to the human one-chamber stomach, making goats poor models for teaching human abdominal procedures. Placing an epidural needle in pigs is different from doing this procedure on humans, as the respective spinal cords for pigs and humans end in different vertebral sections, and incorrect placement in humans could cause severe nerve damage.

Goats’ veins and arteries sit on top of the muscle and are easy to visualize, grab and clamp to stop a hemorrhaging wound. Human veins and arteries run through the muscle, and when damaged, they contract, making them difficult to grab and clamp to stop a hemorrhage.

Also, the pressure required to properly apply a tourniquet on a human’s limb is significantly different from that needed to apply one to a small goat’s limb. Failing to learn how to properly stop hemorrhaging wounds can have potential life-or-death consequences.

A recent study found that nearly a quarter of combat deaths from 2001 through 2011 were potentially survivable, and in 90 percent of these cases, avoidable deaths were due to massive blood loss.

Military medics shouldn’t be burdened with translating skills learned on an anatomically foreign, sedated goat or pig to a bleeding and screaming comrade on a chaotic battlefield.

A better training method would use anatomically correct, advanced human simulators that can breathe, bleed and even die just like real people.

The BEST Practices Act would help the military make the transition to using superior human simulation technology in place of animals for trauma training.

A recent Army study found that the agency could even save millions of taxpayer dollars with this transition.

Last month, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that it had suspended all animal use for trauma training. This policy shift will allow medical personnel to master emergency skills on realistic human anatomy, improve providers’ skill confidence and save the agency money.

The Department of Defense should follow suit by giving its medical personnel the human-simulation training tools they need to better save lives and permanently banning inferior, animal-based trauma-training methods.

Doris Browne, M.D., M.P.H., is a retired colonel who served nearly 28 years as a physician in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and is the president-elect of the National Medical Association, the largest and oldest national organization representing the interests of more than 30,000 African-American physicians and the patients they serve.

There’s no bleating in baseball

But first:

This chicken shall not be grilled! – thanks to the wonderful people in my life!

Operation chicken-rescue!


Cats transported by me… And Queen Cece on her throne, back at my shack!


Cece’s “Auntie” gave her cute kitty toys today …


… plus an adorable little kitten bed and blankeys! Thank YOU, sweet Auntie!
– text+pics:R.Tirella


There’s no bleating in baseball

By Amy Skylark Elizabeth

Dear Cubs and Indians fans,

Congratulations! As a baseball fan myself, I’m psyched to see this World Series match-up, but as someone who runs an animal sanctuary that is home to three goats, I dread seeing how the Curse of the Billy Goat is going to play out.

We baseball fans are a superstitious bunch, so I know that some Cubs fans believe that their team is in the World Series because the Curse of the Billy Goat has finally been lifted. Allow me to explain: The last time the Cubs won a World Series was in 1908. Fast forward to 1945 when they were just two wins away from clinching the title. Then, in walks a man with a goat (I kid you not). A fan named Billy Sianis took his goat, Murphy, to Wrigley field to watch game four. Even though Murphy had a ticket, he wasn’t allowed in. Legend has it that Sianis put a hex on the Cubs by declaring, “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more!” True to his prophecy, they haven’t won a World Series since.

Fast forward to today. Cue the goat abuse. Hoping to keep the Cubs curse alive, some Indians fans have been dragging goats around on leashes at Cleveland’s stadium. Just west of Indian territory, herds of Cubs fans are trying to kill the curse and extend “goodwill” to goats by groping them at local zoos. In past years, the Cubs have even tried to appease the baseball gods by trotting a goat onto the playing field to “reverse the curse.” Others are feasting on goats. According to estimates, there has been a 25 percent increase in goat meat this fall in Chicago.

None of the above would fly with my ladies. Goats do not like to be walked on leashes. I learned this the hard way when Baby Jane escaped from the pasture and into my garden. Her verdict? Leashes are bad; carrots are good.

My goats would curl their lips at having to be confined to a zoo or placed in centerfield. Every day, my girls run to greet me, wagging their tails like dogs. They know their names, and Birdie knows how to unzip my jacket pocket to help herself to treats. They like lots of room to run, play, graze, nap and climb. They have a “ruminant rec center” made from connected planks, logs and fallen trees. Many a playful head-butting battle is fought there.

A zoo could offer none of this. And petting zoos? Two words: E. coli and salmonella. Petting zoos are unhygienic hotbeds of dangerous pathogens that will definitely ruin game day if they don’t kill you first. Plus, who likes to be groped?

Prudence was so afraid of people when I first got her that it took me three months of cajoling before she would let me touch her. I am still the only one she allows to touch her, but now she stands stock still in front of me with her head bowed so that I can scratch between her horns.

All of my goats were being raised for meat before they were rescued from neglectful and abusive situations. No goat wants to be slaughtered so that Chicago eateries can offer trendy goat tacos. I also have to question whether eating more goat meat is such a smart idea when you’re trying to reverse a curse that was supposedly brought on by humiliating a goat. Really, Chicago?

The Wrigley Field officials were right to deny Murphy entrance into the stadium in 1945. Goats don’t belong at ballparks, in petting zoos or on a plate. They belong in real sanctuaries. No matter what team you root for, please be a fan of goats by donating your money or time to a local accredited sanctuary. And take it from me, a self-professed bleatnik, goats are always a blessing—never a curse.