Dressed in lab coats with tree trimmers and a fake butcher knife in hand next to a bloody stuffed goat, animal rights activists protested Thursday outside Fort Carson's main gate.
The demonstration, one of dozens planned at military installations by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals around the country, was part of a campaign aimed at ending military medical training involving goats and pigs.
The training, known as live tissue training, involves shooting or stabbing sedated goats or pigs to teach soldiers how to treat injuries they may see on the battlefield. Ultimately, the animals are euthanized.
PETA says it has a leaked video of the training depicting the amputation of a goat's leg with tree trimmers at Virginia Beach, Va.
The Army has long defended the training as critical to the education of battlefield medics.
But, PETA protester Tricia Lebkuecher said the training is ineffective, and in April, the Coast Guard suspended live tissue training, the Washington Post reported.
"The anatomy of goats and pigs differ drastically from that of a human's," Lebkuecher said. "High-tech human simulators that breathe, bleed and even die are much more cost effective, more humane and can adequately train service members."
Lebkeucher said the simulators are the best option because they are cheaper and don't kill animals.
Fort Carson officials said they were aware of the protest.
"Every American citizen has the right to peacefully protest," Fort Carson officials said in a statement. "The right to protest is a long-standing protection afforded by the U.S. Constitution."
One retired Army medic, who asked that their name not be used, said the soldiers practice on animals as part of predeployment training. She said that the animals are under the supervision of licensed veterinarians at all times and are treated humanely.
She said there's no comparison to live tissue, as the simulators are made of a rubber material that causes more friction than with live tissue. There is also the lingering thought that treatments being practiced are not real, even if they are realistic.
"It doesn't have that same feel. You know that simulator isn't a real person. So it doesn't really prepare you for handling a true casualty."
The animals, she said, are treated with reverence, as sacrifices to the soldier's ability to save lives in the battlefield.
"When you know something as flesh and blood, it really helps to set the scene and the severity of the training," she said.
"It ... prepares you for one day when you have to do that to your battle buddy."
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