Dybdal, N., Horgan, M., Costa, L. et al. 2023. Equine gunshot euthanasia: Creation of a 3D-printed model with integrated sensors for training. Animals 13(16), 2566.

Challenges and issues related to the use of pentobarbital euthanasia and disposal of animal remains within the US have recently been reviewed. Environmental and public health challenges increasingly necessitate consideration of alternative methods such as gunshots, an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) “acceptable with conditions” method, for the humane euthanasia of horses. A recent study reported a correctly aimed gunshot provides a humane option for euthanizing horses. However, although aiming guidelines exist, studies examining bullet trajectories in animals euthanized by gunshot have reported that inadequate disruption of the brain is a serious welfare issue. Here, we report the development and production of a portable, reusable, equine gunshot euthanasia training model. Using 3D printing, an anatomically accurate model of an equine head has been developed, with external aiming landmarks and equipped with integrated laser sensors and LED eyes. The laser sensors are embedded in two specific anatomical tracts (pons and medulla) with aiming paths associated with the aiming landmarks to train correct aiming angle. The LED eyes are linked to the laser sensors to provide instant feedback on aiming accuracy. When a beam from a commercially available blue training gun laser travels along the correct aiming path and strikes the sensor inside the head, the lights in the model’s eyes go out and there is an audible signal, providing immediate feedback on the accuracy of the shot. The model facilitates the training of veterinary personnel and first responders in successful gunshot euthanasia, providing instantaneous feedback on the likelihood of a shot causing immediate, humane death in a live animal.

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