Tyler Weinman Case Cause for Abandoning Cat Dissections in Miami, Argue New Times Readers

Categories: Flotsam
Tyler Weinman was cleared of animal cruelty charges, but some New Times readers still object to cat dissection
A year and a half ago, the Tyler Weinman "cat killer" case tore open this quaint little town we call Miami. Police said the teenager described classroom dissections a little too eagerly. One reader was so pissed at the thought of someone mutilating feral felines that he wished bodily harm on Weinman during his stint in jail.

Luckily, several New Times readers have a more constructive suggestion. Although the 19 counts of animal cruelty Weinman faced were dropped in November, Barbara and John Brooks believe it's high time Miami-Dade schools stopped letting students dissect cats.

"Dissecting the bodies of dead cats is not necessary to teach biology," they wrote us recently. "It is banned in some countries and almost unpracticed in others."

What do you think? After all, goddamn stray cats are giving us hookworm.

The Brooks have a point. In their letter, they argued:

Humane teaching methods are abundant: These include interactive models, and computer kits. Scientific studies show that humane teaching models are at least as efficient as dissection. Students who used such methods not only reached the same level as those who dissected animals; many students showed that they did better.
The letter also cites Broward Supervisor of Science Education JP Keener as saying Broward schools "ran into problems with kids that had an emotional connection to a family pet."

Then again, the Brooks sound a bit like our 8th grade science teacher who avoided the word "evolution" because it might upset the budding Glenn Becks in the back row of class.

That said, we appreciate the letter. But there are good arguments for keeping cat dissection in Miami-Dade schools. For example, would you want a doctor operating on you who had trained exclusively on "humane interactive models and computer kits"?

We didn't think so.

As another reader named Steve pointed out when the cat killings were first blamed on Weinman's dissection experience: "So the kid knew about animal dissection, you might as well arrest all the surgeons and butchers in the state too."

Let us know what you think.

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Roney Lisa
Roney Lisa

Animal dissection is perhaps necessary for teaching veterinary students, but there are only 2600 graduates of vet schools every year and there are more than 3 million graduates of highs schools. That's a lot of people who don't need to dissect domestic pet-type animals, either because it might traumatize them at a young age or because they might be emotionally disturbed already and learn techniques to inflict harm on animals. In fact, if students need to be faced with "reality," then I would suggest that biology teachers take them on field trips to the Human Society offices where they might see animals being treated by vets and/or participate in caring for abandoned and lost animals. Humane education about mistreatment of pets would be far more useful to many more of the 3 million high school students than a detailed study of actual dead-animal anatomy ever would.


Why on earth is there a need for cat dissection in high school?  I agree with previous post.  There is absolutely no need for it.  Dissections, if necessary, should be performed by those studying medicine/vet medicine.  In fact, I don't really see why one can't just be filmed and then shown to those needing to learn anatomy/animal anatomy.  Practical dissections are surely only necessary for those wishing to pursue a career in surgery.  Otherwise, it's completely unnecessary IMHO.   


Why wouldn't these people spend this energy on living animals cats and dogs who are in danger now and maybe homeless or being abused? This seems like a terrible waste of energy to me.

Virtual Dissection Rocks
Virtual Dissection Rocks

Thanks for writing about this important topic! It’s great that you’re getting the word out about this issue. Most people aren’t aware that the majority of peer-reviewed research on this educational topic shows that dissection alternatives teach as well as or even better than the use of animal dissection. In fact, a few recent studies have found that students who learned human anatomy by building clay sculptures of each human body system were significantly better at identifying the constituent parts of human anatomy than their classmates who performed cat dissections.

Software and models actually help better prepare students for future medical careers, as well. Today, nearly 95% of U.S. medical schools do not use any animals to train medical students, and undergraduate students applying to medical school are neither expected nor required to have experience with animal experimentation or dissection. Instead, students learn hands-on skills through a combination of software, models, human cadaver dissection, and clinical rounds monitored by experienced medical professionals. The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) also states, in a 2007 resolution, that it “strongly encourages the replacement of animal laboratories with non-animal alternatives in undergraduate medical education.”

Anyone interested in more information on virtual dissection—such as peer-reviewed educational research, physician-narrated video demonstrations of two leading virtual dissection software programs, discount codes for educational software products, comprehensive resource lists, and more—is invited to visit PETA.org/dissection.


If every Miami-Dade County student who took biology class became a doctor, there'd be a lot more freaken doctors. leave cat dissections to medical students, there's no need for it in a high school classroom. By the way who has teh contrct for puttng dead cats in the classrooms neways??!*?!

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