Appendix B

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Guide to Establishing an Educational Memorial Program (EMP)

How to Create an Educational Memorial Program (EMP) at Your College or University An EMP presents both an ethical and cost-effective source of animals for teaching.

1. Decide which types of animals the EMP will include.
This can be small (dogs and cats) and/or large animals (cows, horses, etc.). In order for the program to be considered ‘ethically sourced’, the animals have to be euthanized for medical reasons, or have died from natural causes, and not euthanized due to the ‘over-population’ problem160 or an animal-related industry.

2. Estimate start-up costs and annual costs. Decide on a budget.
An EMP costs around $4000 to initiate, which includes the purchase of embalming pumps, and about $200 to maintain annually thereafter161. Dr. Kumar, head anatomist at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, states that there is a significant cost savings from having an EMP, i.e. approximately $20 per cadaver, when compared to the cost of acquiring embalmed dogs from biological supply companies162. This cost savings even includes the factoring in of initial start-up costs.

3. Determine the departments or program for which the cadavers will be used.
In veterinary medicine, animals donated through an EMP offer case-based learning opportunities, where students receive the animal’s complete medical history163. This expands the opportunities for learning, because it allows students to rotate between stations, learning about various animals’ conditions, rather than solely focusing on their own dissections in gross anatomy labs. Also, the student learns about pathological conditions, and the condition of surrounding anatomy.

At the undergraduate level, donated animals can be used for the purpose of dissection, instead of purchasing animals from biological supply companies164.

4. Establish relationships with hospitals and/or veterinary medical clinics.
Animals donated to an EMP can come from university affiliated hospitals, veterinary clinics, or private veterinary clinics. The source of animals that is most convenient for a college or university depends on the specific needs of an educational program, location, and related issues. Contact individual institutions to discuss the feasibility of setting up such a program with animals from their facility.

5. Decide on the number of cadavers required for curricular needs.
The number of cadavers needed to fulfill learning objectives is important to know when instituting an EMP. For example, At Tufts’ University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, there is an annual case load of 26,000 companion animals at the veterinary hospital, therefore even a small percentage of donors allow the program more animals than they require for teaching165. At an average class size of 80, and running the program for 11 years, there were approximately 900 veterinary students who learned anatomy and other procedures here based on EMP dogs and cats. There are enough client donated animal cadavers to sustain not only the 1st year DVM anatomy programs, but also the clinical skills labs, surgery labs, faculty research, and continuing education programs of the school166.

6. Develop a brochure or other informational piece to inform animal guardians of the need for animals donated through an EMP.
Animal guardians at the veterinary hospital or veterinary clinic can read the brochure to learn about the importance of the EMP, and they can decide if donating their companion animal is right for them. The decision for euthanasia is made through agreement of the animal guardian and the veterinarian. The guardian receives the humane euthanasia brochure, learning the available options. To ensure the guardian is not motivated to donate the companion animal for financial reasons, there is no mention of any fee waiver of euthanasia until after the guardian decides to donate the animal’s remains167.

7. Set up a system of communication with the hospitals and/or clinics.
The veterinary school needs to have a system in place so the clinic or hospital can communicate with them when a body is donated for the EMP program. A staff member must be designated to route such communication to appropriate personnel and to take designated action once the animal donation is made. For example, at Western University of the Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine, the Willed Deceased Animals for Veterinary Education (WAVE) program accepts donations within 45 miles of the university and provides transportation of donated animals back to the university168.

8. Set up a transportation plan and put a logistical process in place.
If the animal is euthanized at a veterinary clinic external to the campus, there is a need to transport the cadaver from the vet clinic to the college. The vehicle used for transport, and the designated staff member who is to transport the animal’s remains must be in place.

Also, there must be a plan in place indicating where the animal’s remains will be stored or which department will receive them. At Tufts’, if a cadaver is to go to the anatomy lab, the anatomy secretary is contacted immediately and a copy of a signed donation form with a case number is faxed to the anatomy office169.

9. Decide on staff that will be involved in the embalming process.
Aside from staff involved in the communication, transportation, and other logistical processes of the EMP, there must be staff involved in the embalming process. At Tufts’, students are employed part-time to assist in the embaliming process, and it takes approximately two hours to embalm a dog, and with several perfusion pumps multiple animals can be prepared quickly170. The remains are injected with heparin prior to embalming, or they can be latexed (if preferred)171. Embalmed animals are tagged and the case file on the animal is identified with the ear tag172.

10. Consider saving student-dissected animals for next years’ classes.173
This would require setting up a plastination unit174 where specimens may be plastinated for long term use.

11. Develop an appropriate way to memorialize the animals in EMPs.
At Western, a memorial service is held at the beginning of each tern to acknowledge the humans donating their companion animals and to celebrate the animals’ lives (Tamara Miller, Director of the WAVE program). This is a respectful way to display appreciation for those who help make the EMP a success.

12. Refer guardians to other EMPs when needed.
Interest in the Tufts EMP has grown considerably, and they are getting more animals donated than anticipated. They receive phone calls from individuals across the country who would like to donate their companion animal, and they direct them to colleagues at other universities that have EMPs, so that other students can benefit.

159Miller, Tamara. Director, Willed Deceased Animals for Veterinary Education (WAVE). Undated sample letter.
160If the university owns embalming pumps, initial start-up costs will be much less. Kumar, A. Personal communication. 22 Aug 2008.
161Kumar, A. Personal communication. 22 Aug 2008.
162Kumar, A., et al. “Client Donation Program for Acquiring Dogs and Cats to Teach Veterinary Gross Anatomy.” Journal of Veterinary Medical Education 28 (2001): 73-77.
163Class B dealers.
164Kumar, A. Personal communication. 22 Aug 2008.
166At Western University of the Health Sciences, animal guardians can elect to have cremated animal remains returned to them, except in cases of livestock animals over 60 lbs. WAVE brochure. College of Veterinary Medicine. Western University of Health Sciences.
167Miller, Tamara. Director, WAVE program. Undated letter.
168Kumar, A. Personal communication. 22 Aug 2008.
172Kumar, A., et al. “Client Donation Program for Acquiring Dogs and Cats to Teach Veterinary Gross Anatomy.” Journal of Veterinary Medical Education 28 (2001): 73-77.
173Tufts’ University of Veterinary Medicine has set up a plastination unit.
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