Army Training Exercise That Injures Goats Causing Controversy
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- A training exercise planned at Fort Carson later this month is creating some controversy.
The Army said an undisclosed number of goats will be sedated and then injured to simulate combat wounds so medics can practice treating them. Officials said the exercise will help save the lives of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Itís very important training," said Ben Abel, a spokesman for Army Special Forces Command in Fort Bragg, N.C., which is responsible for the training exercise at Fort Carson.
Abel characterized the number of goats that will be wounded and eventually killed at Fort Carson this month as "a small amount," but he wouldn't provide a number. He said the training is in compliance with federal animal cruelty laws.
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The Washington-based Humane Society sent a formal protest to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last week asking him to block the exercise, said Martin Stephens, the society's vice president for animal research issues.
"We wouldn't be much of a Humane Society if we didn't oppose the shooting of goats for training purposes," he said. "There clearly has to be a better way."
The Army has made some concessions, discontinuing similar training using dogs and switching to goats, Stephens said.
An informant told the Humane Society that at least one goat will be pushed off a cliff.
Animals have long been used in training exercises throughout Army history. Dogs were once used before being replaced by goats in medic training.
"If medics didn't get this training, their first interaction with serious wounds would be on the battlefield," said Abel.
"I wouldn't want to be treated by a physician whose last patient was a goat," countered Dan Hanley, with People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
After the goats are treated by Army medics, they will be killed and cremated.
The medics also spend time at trauma care hospitals in major cities nationwide to gain experience, Abel said.
Copyright 2004 by TheDenverChannel.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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