Synthetic dog could save thousands of lives

Posted at 3:22 PM, May 31, 2016

Every year, tens of thousands of shelter dogs are used by labs for testing and surgery training. Afterwards, those dogs are euthanized.

A company based in Tampa has a new invention they hope will one day put an end to what’s called “terminal surgery labs.”

SynDaverLabs unveiled the world's first synthetic canine, a fake dog that’s so realistic the company says no lab should ever need to use a real dog again. All the parts of the synthetic animals — including the skin tissue, organs, muscles, fat, bone, tendons, and more — feels, weighs and looks almost exactly like the real thing. And with the help of a fake heart pump, the synthetic dog will even bleed realistically.

Not all, but many veterinary colleges still use shelter dogs to teach students how to perform surgeries. SynDaver's Synthetic Canine could effectively end this practice. The synthetic dog parts are replaceable, and are designed to come with maladies for students to solve, like cancer in an organ, or foreign objects lodged in the intestines. SynDaver has designed 40 different “surgeries” so far. The creation required 10 patents.

SynDaver worked with the University of Florida on the development of the synthetic canine, and the school purchased one for use this fall. Each synthetic dog costs $28,500, which could be a barrier to their widespread use. That’s why the company is also launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise $24 million, hoping to simply give synthetic canines to veterinary colleges across the country.

The Tampa company, founded in 2004, is already in the competitive synthetic human cadaver business, but company founder and CEO Dr. Chris Sakezles says there are no other companies providing a serious alternative to their new synthetic dog creation.

Dr. Chris Sakezles says he believes there’s no reason labs should continue to kill dogs now that they’ve created a realistic and more humane alternative.

If successful, Dr. Sakezles tells ABC Action News we will create a synthetic cat next.

You can see more about the product launch and about the crowdfunding efforts by clicking HERE.