Investigation reveals piglets poisoned, irradiated, mutilated and killed for military medical training.

A new Animal Protection Party of Canada (APPC) investigation exposes the cruel, wasteful and dangerous use of piglets for “live tissue training” by the Department of National Defence (DND). 

Our report ‘Defenceless: Animal-Based Trauma Training in the Canadian Military’ is based on over 3,200 pages received in response to Access to Information requests by Animal Alliance of Canada (AAC) to the DND, the final batch of which took nearly five years to be received. 

Read the press release here.

Toxic nerve agents, radiation, and severe trauma.

 The report provides the most detailed insight to date into the DND’s use of animals for military medical training. It reveals that piglets as young as 10 weeks of age are exposed to:

  • Toxic nerve agents, causing seizures, irregular heartbeats and laboured breathing;
  • Radiation, implanted under the skin or applied as a liquid, causing deep tissue burns; and
  • Severe trauma, such as cutting animals’ faces, repeated stabbings, limb amputations and disembowelment.


 Photo provided by the DND showing piglets sourced from a “local supplier.” Photo Credit: DND

Piglets reviving during traumatic procedures.

Although the DND claims piglets are anesthetized during training, its own records indicate that many revive, noting in one case that a piglet (referred to by the DND as pig 4903) began “vocalizing loudly” after being stabbed in the face, while another (pig 4520) attempted to jump off the table but continued to be used for another two hours, regardless.

Anesthesia records for piglets 4903 and 4520. Photo Credit: DND


Dr. Nicholas Dodman, an anesthesia expert and former head of the Department of Anesthesiology at Tufts Veterinary School in Boston, denounced the anesthetics listed in the DND protocols as “totally wrong and inexcusable” for such invasive procedures. One of the drugs used to treat some piglets actually reversed the effects of the anesthetics and revived these animals in the midst of traumatic procedures. (Read Dr. Dodman’s full review here.)


 This photo features a U.S. Department of Defense trauma training exercise.* The procedures conducted in Canada are the same, with the addition of exposure of the piglets to radiation and chemical weapons. Photo Credit: PETA


*The U.S. Department of Defense has since widely divested from use of live animals in favour of human patient simulators.

DND recognizes pigs make poor training models.

The DND’s own documents contain the admission that anatomical differences make pigs poor models for training medics to treat human injuries in the field. In fact, the DND acknowledges that using pigs may actually interfere with effective training by producing “training scars” in trainees who learn, for instance, how to position a breathing tube in a pig, in a way that would be an incorrect placement in a human casualty.


Slide from DND PowerPoint presentation to Canadian Armed Forces instructors, in which “live tissue” trainers are warned of the risk of “training scars” brought about by using a model with anatomy so dissimilar to humans’.  Photo Credit: DND


And yet, between 2012 and 2016 the DND squandered an estimated $700,000 in tax-payer funds by purchasing over 700 piglets** for cruel, obsolete and inapplicable training.


**Information obtained by the Toronto Star indicates that 884 piglets were used.

Canada among a minority of NATO nations that continue to use animals.

Over 70 percent of NATO member nations no longer use animals for military medical training. In the United States, the Department of Defense medical school, Uniformed Services University, stopped using animals in 2013. As of 2015, all Advanced Trauma Life Support courses across the U.S. military also ended their use of animals. And by 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard ended all trauma training with animals.

The continued use of piglets for “live tissue training” by the Canadian military is horribly cruel, unsustainably expensive, and puts soldiers’ lives at risk by using archaic teaching methods and inapplicable animal models.

Please join us in urging the Minister of National Defence to commit to ensuring a transition from ineffective, expensive, inaccurate and inhumane “live tissue training” on piglets to more advanced, authentic and less costly human patient simulators. It is within her power to do so and it would bring Canada in line with its NATO allies.

Take action. Help make a difference now.

Fill out the form below and send the following letter to the Minister of National Defence, Anita Anand, calling on her to help bring about an end to the DND’s cruel use of piglets for trauma training.

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 piglets for trauma training.