It's the "Night of the Living Dogs."
In a series of nightmarish experiments straight out of a horror flick, scientists at a leading university have killed dozens of dogs — then brought them back to life.
The hapless pooches, who have their blood drained for up to three hours, are being reanimated in a bid to develop the use of suspended animation to help humans who are injured in combat or crime.
"From our standpoint, we believe it's a very important area of research," said Dr. Patrick Kochanek (Read his biography) , director of the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research (search) at the University of Pittsburgh.
But animal-rights activists last night slammed the research as "indefensible," cruel and inhumane.
In the unsettling tests, dogs of all breeds and sizes are put under, their veins drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution which drops their body temperature from a normal 101 degrees to near freezing.
That puts them in a state of extreme hypothermia, making them scientifically dead — with no breathing, heartbeat or brain activity. But their tissues and vital organs are preserved.
The corpses are then brought back to life by returning the blood to their bodies, giving them pure oxygen and applying electric shocks to restart their hearts.
For a long time, the test subjects couldn't be brought back to life after more than two hours. But recently, the researchers added glucose and more oxygen to the blood and have pushed the maximum time the dogs can be dead to three hours.
"We've tried to get it to four hours, but we just haven't been able to do it," Kochanek told The Post.
The lucky ones turn out to be perfectly normal with no brain damage — although other dogs are stricken with serious physical or behavioral problems.
"We do not in any way say that every outcome is normal," Kochanek said.
He said his goal is to be able to put humans, such as critically wounded soldiers or stabbing or shooting victims, in a state of suspended animation for a few hours until they can receive proper medical help.
And his team is now in talks with hospitals about starting trials for trauma patients.
Mary Beth Sweetland, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (search), said:
"These experiments are indefensible nonsense and the results for humans will be negligible. I would also imagine there are serious consequences for these animals that aren't discussed."
Kochanek angrily denies he's creating a race of zombie dogs fit for a Stephen King novel.
"It's very scientific and those types of words are totally inappropriate. This is an attempt to buy a little time for people who would otherwise just die. We are suggesting that the alternative to this is death," he said.