The Anatomy and Physiology advanced science courses taught at both Traverse City High Schools are dissecting dead cats in their classrooms. They have been doing this for at least 15 years according to Traverse City Principal Jessie Houghton and district science administrator Charles Kolbusz who responded to questions from Pet Friends Magazine.
TCAPS acquires approximately 50 dead cats each year from Carolina Biological in North Carolina. The company gets their already euthanized cats from government operated or regulated humane societies who would otherwise have disposed of the cats in a landfill or used an incinerator. Houghton says that Carolina diverts the euthanized cats for use in education rather than simply being wasted.
Michigan State law allows students to opt out of doing the dissections, however, Houghton says that they are not aware of any students doing so even after being notified of the choice. If a parent or student was not comfortable with dissections on cats, they have the option of participating in computer simulations. Click here to learn more about the state law.
Houghton says that the purpose of using cats in the class instead of other wild animals is to provide students with an educationally appropriate experience that aligns with curriculum goals. She said they are safe for this type of use and readily available from Carolina Biological. Houghton explained that the science classes teach the students about structure and function to provide an integrated view of how the human body works. Students will learn how a body responds to disease, injuries and what conditions help to optimize health. Computer simulations and/or dissections (using mammalian animal specimens) will be used to show how anatomy (structure) relates to physiology (function). She continued to explain how the course reviews biochemistry, cell biology, tissues, and various organ systems. This course is recommended for those with an interest in health science.
In the age of social media, cat dissections could prove to be a problem for a school system like in this case a few years ago in Oklahoma City although no such online postings are known to have appeared out of any dissection classes in Traverse City.
Any parents or taxpayers who oppose this practice can email Erik Falconer with their concerns. He is the President of the TCAPS school board. Click here to email him.