LIMA At least two stolen dogs were found in an operating room used for dissections at the medical school of South America's oldest university, but its dean denied relying on dognappers to collect specimens for classes.
The University of San Marcos does not have access to enough human cadavers for its students, so they sometimes cut open dogs instead.
Carmen Valverde's dog Tomas was stolen by two men while she was walking in the working-class Brena district of Lima, and a friend who works at the school's teaching hospital spotted him by chance in a surgery room where dogs are dissected.
Valverde donned a lab coat and snuck into the hospital to rescue Tomas. Video her friend shot a week ago, aired on local television, shows him sedated, splayed, and strapped to a stainless steel table -- just moments away from the knife.
After local newspapers published the story, other people missing dogs rushed to the hospital's door and one owner found her dog Chico.
"The University of San Marcos still hasn't apologized for what it has done," Valverde told Reuters Thursday.
Ricardo Rubios, dean of the medical school, acknowledged that stolen dogs had wound up in the surgery room, but said the school only uses strays for classes.
"I assure you we would have returned the dog. All our experimental surgeries are done to dogs that don't have owners," Rubios told Reuters.
Romila Briones, a member of ASPPA, a Peruvian animal rights group, said the law does not protect strays.
"In Europe, they don't kill animals for education, they use dummies. Unfortunately, animals are just property in the eyes of the law here, like furniture," Briones said.
(Additional reporting by Carlos Valdez; editing by Terry Wade and Mohammad Zargham)