DO YOU SUPPOSE that the doctors of the 4077 M*A*S*H unit learned how to care for battlefield casualties at medical schools that had $70,000 firing-range laboratories and used anesthetized dogs as targets? Do you think that the hundreds of thousands of doctors who have served in this country's military needed to see how a bullet traveled through a pup before they could treat a soldier's wound? If not, was there any reason at all for providing this "training" at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences? Officials at this federally funded medical school in Bethesda claimed that they need to shoot and examine dogs in order to prepare their students to practice medicine in the military.
It is gratifying that Defense Secretary Weinberger, who was probably as disgusted as most Washingtonians by this front-page story Tuesday morning, has ordered a halt to the shooting of dogs for medical experiments or training by the department. You don't have to be a charter member of the Humane Society to be appalled at this kind of treatment of man's best friend.
Another aspect of this story that deserves attention is the cost of the proposed project. Was it reasonable to spend $70,000 to construct a new facility that would have been used for only 80 tests a year? And how about paying a dealer $130 for a dog that was about to be put to sleep in an animal shelter? Research animals do cost money if a scientist needs a perfectly healthy animal of a particular species that has been bred and raised under certain conditions. But the middleman's profit on a dog that has been snatched from death's door in an animal shelter and then sold so that it can be shot must be astounding. Perhaps the DOD inspector general who found that the Air Force was paying $17.59 for a 67- cent bolt and that the Navy spent $109 on a 4-cent electric diode should look into these canine contracts as well.