Cats Dissected at California High School And You Can See the Photos Online

In June of this year, students at Newport Harbor High School in Orange County, California posted photos on Facebook of cat dissection in anatomy class.  They were not scientific photographs for learning you would expect in a classroom.

Students were seen posing and smiling with mutilated cats. Videos were made and posted on Facebook.  One showed a girl holding up the headless cat carcass, smiling and sticking out her tongue toward the cat.  This elicited a student comment “Ewwww … u look like ur trying to lick it.”

Karen Coyne, an English teacher at the high school and faculty adviser for the school’s animal rights club, contacted the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).  PCRM sent a letter to the school district and kept up correspondence throughout the summer months.

“The staff at Newport-Mesa Schools decided to eliminate animal dissection and use electronic means in its lessons” wrote David Brooks, Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) Board of Education president, to John Pippin, M.D., PCRM’s director of academic affairs, in an email dated October 18, 2012.

However, it has now been discovered that NMUSD has ended cat dissection only; other animals will apparently still be used in vivisection activities in the classrooms.  Dr. Pippin was disappointed to find only cats are being eliminated in dissection lessons.  His numerous emails with Mr. Brooks were worded as such that it led him to believe the decision would eliminate dissection of ALL animals in all classrooms within the district.

In a telephone interview with Dr. Pippin, he expressed to me his concerns about vivisection.  “Science education needs to move beyond animal dissection” he said.  “Don’t send the message that animals are ours to use and throw away.  It is unethical to teach that life is cheap.”

After PCRM found similar photos from other high schools of students mugging with dissected animals in classroom settings, they sent a letter to Facebook asking the pages and photos be removed, in accordance with its graphic content policy.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) joined PCRM in requesting the photos be removed and dissection not be used in teaching anatomy.

The Orange County Register quoted Coyne.  “It’s certainly better for the cats, and at least it’s gotten people to discuss this issue more,” said Coyne. “I just wish they could see that dissection really is an archaic practice and unnecessary, and we need to teach these kids compassion toward these helpless beings.”

“In light of the fact that PCRM found other photos online at different schools, we know this is a big problem not just locally but across the nation,” Coyne said. “Especially with the rise in teen bullying and school shootings, we need to be teaching them compassion.”  Coyne reported overhearing two students state “that the [dissected cat] head had been placed inside a student’s locker as a prank.”

Animals like cats and dogs are often acquired by biological supply companies from shelters.  This means many of the animals used for dissection were strays and lost family pets.  It is often a greater advantage for the shelter to euthanize pets and sell them, instead of attempting to find the animals owners.  Shelters actually receives income when selling the animals and this also makes room for even more strays.  This is made possible thanks to local ordinances that only require shelters to hold found pets for as little as 24 hours to several days.

There are more humane techniques for teaching anatomy to students in middle school, high school and college level classes, like computerized dissection modules.  Numerous medical schools have been changing their training to stop using live animals while others have not.  PCRM lists a number of alternative options to dissection on their site.

If you have the stomach for it, photos of this high school’s anatomy dissection can be seen here.

Facebook refused to comment on the specific events at Newport Harbor High School and instead advised anyone who thinks a photo is inappropriate to use the site’s report links.


Related Care2 Reading

Cat Tortured and Killed for Profit at University of Wisconsin

Kittens Get Reprieve From Medical Training

2,500 Beagles Slated For Vivisection Are Freed

New Technology More Reliable and Ethical Than Animal Experiments


Photo from Thinkstock


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

I was in AP Anatomy and Physiology in 12th grade, and dissecting a cat was one of MANY dissections in the lab. LUCKILY students could pick an alternate assignment (lab days for dissecting the cat were three days, the alternate assignment took 5 and required a detail report on WHY the student refused to take part in semi mandatory class work. It was similar to punishment, but didn't hurt your grade unless you weren't able to make up the two days yo missed doing the alternate assignment). Needless to say i chose to NOT dissect the cat, and opted out of numerous other dissections in favor of online equivalents. I did have to dissect a sheep's brain, a cows eyeball, a pigs lung and a pregnant frog.

Aurea Walker

It is truly shameful that our scientific achievements have become a cruel and atavistic sport at the expense of innocent animals. Shame the schools administration for allowing such barbaric practices!

Leslie Albert
Leslie Albert5 years ago

For those who think that animal experimentation is necessary to advance medical science - you are wrong. Typically, the torturing of this cat was not necessary. READ the article - it was done simply to maintain government funding of more animal experiments. There are more than sufficient technological advances in place that are superior to using innocent animals and quite honestly, sufficient human cadavers available as well. The fact that this starts in high school where students are allowed and encouraged to maintain such a callous attitude towards animals is disgusting and those students should be disciplined and if necessary, expelled. PCRM and PETA are wonderful organizations that are committed to protecting innocent creatures like Double Trouble. I have had relatives dies of terrible diseases. As tragic as it may have been, it is not an excuse for unnecessarily torturing an innocent animal. My quality of life is diminished every time an animal is tortured and so is the entire human races.

Beverly G.
bev g5 years ago

sad, so sad , i cant evenl ook at the pikky proply, i just see it out corner of my eye. Iam big cat and aninal love. i have =5 cats. this is os evil to see this happening . this has GOT TO STOP. poor animals suffering so inhuamely. makes me sick and want to VOMIT

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright5 years ago

All animal experimentation needs to be stopped now. There are other options to the maiming, torture and murder of innocent animals.

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Colleen, if an animal is euthanized, it cannot be used for consumption, even if it was for petfood. The drugs used to put the animal to sleep would be passed on into the food and the result would also kill or make extremely sick, whatever ate that food. I've had to have two horses put down and both times had to sign a form filled out by my vet that the remains would NOT be used for consumption by anything. I couldn't even donate to a zoo. Now, I loved both of those horses, one was my companion for 32 of her 34 years, but since I could not bury her here on my property, she had to be removed. The removal service required the signed form. A local man was charged with killing endangered species and fined heavily because he put down his own cow and then didn't bury the remains "properly". Bald Eagles ate on the corpse and 11 died, two became very sick but survived. The owner of the cow was held responsible.

An old animal that dies of natural causes, or "road kill" can be used for petfood or donated to a zoo.

Colleen Prinssen
Colleen Prinssen5 years ago

Beth M.. I swear that is a troll group. the only buludgend wolves are from hunters, maybe some road kills the rest are not wolf meat.

besides. "you guys" used the same gorey images for your fights. one person shows a bunch of skinned canines and says "now we have plenty for a BBQ" and then the other is "these tortured souls have had their skins ripped off for human greed"

Colleen Prinssen
Colleen Prinssen5 years ago

Rosemary L. i thought the downed,dying,disabled,disesed were for pet food.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

"There is absolutely no reason for animal experimentation,"...........that is acceptable as one's personal opinion, and one with which I disagree, as will anyone who has had a loved one die of a horrible disease or condition which could have been helped thru research if it had been done previously and gotten results. It's also not relevant to this discussion in any way, shape or form about livestock slaughter. They are two completely different topics.

PCRM is affiliated with PETA, and anyone who thanks them for anything related to this discussion is living in a fantasy world. PETA didn't expose squat here, it was a YOU TUBE video put on by students who were very sadly misguided and were bragging about and MOCKING what they'd been doing in class.