Robotic dog allows vet student training without animal testing

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If dog is man's best friend, a new synthetic dog could be dog's best friend. They call it Alberta. It's a life-sized robot that looks and feels completely real, but it wasn't made to replace pets. Alberta will help veterinary students learn how to perform surgical procedures.

Dr. David Roy Danielson is on the team that invented the synthetic dog. He demonstrated how the dog works for FOX 13 News at SynDaver Labs in Tampa, where the technology was developed. 

As he cut and open the dog's mid-section, there was a squirt of red liquid from a faux blood vessel.

"I said it would bleed. That's a big vessel. Sorry," he said.

The synthetic dog's heart beats to the sound of a monitor as the surgery demonstration continues. The dog has vital organs that can be operated on or removed. The synthetic tissue feels real.

The dog even coughs when a finger is put in its mouth.  

Dr. Danielson and SynDaver founder Dr. Christopher Sakezles explained the need for such realistic technology. They said millions of dogs have died around the world in surgical training laboratories.  

"Our ultimate goal is to end live animal use all together," Dr. Sakezles said. The company hopes to use crowd funding to raise $24 million to give synthetic canines to veterinary schools around the world.

Alberta's "mate", Albert, is at the University of Florida, where the technology has been tested.