PETA in Jacksonville protesting military training

Updated at 4:24 p.m.

Sawing on a stuffed goat splattered with fake blood, a pair of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals members clad in military uniforms protested the military’s use of live animals in training.

Flanked by nearly a dozen supporters holding signs reading, “Save troops lives: Ditch crude mutilation training,” and “Support our troops: End animal mutilation training,” PETA braved the cold and rain in hopes of raising awareness about the use of animals such as goats and pigs for live-tissue, combat training. The protest was seen Tuesday along Western Boulevard, near the Armed Forces Recruiting Office.

The group attracted more than just honks from motorists.

Marine Corps veteran Shannon Ohlinger made a point to talk to the group about their efforts.

The three-time Afghanistan veteran agreed with the shift from live animals to human simulators for medical training, saying the funding is available, it just isn’t being used, and the techniques taught using the animals may not be the easiest to learn without a simulator.

“As a veteran of the Marine Corps, them wearing the uniform is the biggest issue I have,” he said. “That’s just something you don’t do. It paints a target on their back, I know this is farfetched, but if there is a terrorist attack they aren’t going to know those aren’t real military members. Plus the real problem is they haven’t earned the right to wear it.”

Ohlinger spoke to PETA representatives from their Norfolk, Virginia office about what their demonstration could generate in terms of the military shifting their use of funds to purchase human-patient simulators instead of live animals.

“It is much more cost effective buying simulators that are going to enhance the training and learning of the military,” Ohlinger said. “Hopefully what they are doing will have an impact on the money and the funding and how it is dealt with.”

Located in front of the Armed Forces Recruiting Office and down the road from the main gate of Camp Lejeune, where personnel has taken part in such live-tissue trainings using animals, Associate Director of Campaigns Ashley Byrne hoped to reach not only military members, but those that support them as well, she said.

“The nation’s top medical schools have stopped using (live animals),” she said.

Senior Laboratory Methods Specialist Shalin Gala said the live animal training is not only crude when animals are purposely hurt and maimed in order to train combat-like wounds, but it is also not the best way to train.

The demonstration was more than just about protesting the use of live animals for training, but PETA’s support of the military, Gala said.

“Live animals is an outdated method of training. There really is no use for them now. There are more efficient human simulators better suited to train troops and save soldiers’ lives,” he said. “This is not only an animal ethics issue, but what is best for our troops, as well.”

Byrne and Gala discussed that several veteran groups are behind them in their efforts to change how military are trained in combat medicine.

Groups like Veterans for Peace and celebrities like Bob Barker, also a veteran, are supportive of the change to simulators.

Several medical organizations such as National Medical Association, National Medical Student Association, National Hispanic Association among others are also in support of PETA’s efforts to encourage the use of simulators instead of live animals.

“Troops deserve the best and simulators are the best,” Byrne said.

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Members of PETA are in Jacksonville protesting military training.

According to a press release on the protest, the members are cutting apart a realistic goat outside of the Marine recruiting center in response to goats and pigs being used in real-life training.

“Hacking apart live goats won’t train service members to treat human patients,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo via the release. “PETA is calling on Camp Lejeune and the Department of Defense to replace these archaic drills with the best training possible—and that’s effective, economical, and ethical human-patient simulators.”

According to the organization, live goats have their legs broken and cut off with tree trimmers while pigs are shot, stabbed, burned and cut apart by military during training drills.

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