MORRISTOWN — Morristown Medical Center has ended its practice of using live dogs to train surgeons following howls of protest from animal lovers.

"Having reviewed current widespread practices and replacements for animal use, Morristown Medical Center has determined that the use of animals is not essential for training of emergency medicine physicians," the hospital said Thursday afternoon.

"As we have said from the beginning, training our physicians and staff to provide the highest quality care for our patients is our priority and responsibility. We will continue to ensure that our emergency residents are able to safely and proficiently perform life-saving procedures."

The hospital did not keep the animals at its facility.

The teaching practice was a bone of contention for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which paid for billboards near the Morristown Station slamming the hospital.

“Don’t kill man’s best friend for medical testing," the billboard said. Another billboard was planned for Exit 13 on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The group said the hospital's emergency medicine residents "are instructed to make incisions, insert a tube into a dog’s chest cavity, crack open the breastbone in order to access the heart, and insert or drill a needle into the animal’s bones. At the end of each training session, the animals are killed."

Morristown Medical Center spokeswoman Elaine Andrecovich said the use of dogs in training had been for “rare, life-saving procedures uncommonly seen” in the emergency room. She said the simulators are comparable but cannot provide “the physiological or anatomical equivalent of live tissue.”

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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