A Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates vegan diets and alternatives to animal research is calling on Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to stop using live pigs to teach invasive procedures to emergency medicine residents.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The complaint says using live animals violates the federal Animal Welfare Act.

“The pigs are strapped down. They are anesthetized and the emergency medicine residents practice a number of procedures, including cutting a hole in the throat to insert a breathing tube,” said Dr. John Pippen, the organization’s director of academic affairs.

Pippen says the vast majority of other teaching hospitals don’t use live animals. He wants Penn State to rely more on simulators for training.

“One of the things that has been learned is trainees using these simulators have the same stress response, the same pressure response as trainees using live animals,” he said.

Penn State responded in a statement, saying its program follows all applicable regulatory requirements and they maintain a strong commitment to treating animals in a humane and ethical way when used in research and training for the treatment and cure of disease.