Philosophy of AR >
Animal Testing Index >
"I had bought two male chimps from a primate colony in Holland. They lived next to each other in separate cages for several months before I used one as a [heart] donor. When we put him to sleep in his cage in preparation for the operation, he chattered and cried incessantly. We attached no significance to this, but it must have made a great impression on his companion, for when we removed the body to the operating room, the other chimp wept bitterly and was inconsolable for days. The incident made a deep impression on me. I vowed never again to experiment with such sensitive creatures."
--Christian Barnard, MD, who performed the first human heart transplant
How many animals are dissected?
What species are used?
Where do the animals used in
dissection come from? Aren't most of the animals used in dissection
Fetal pigs are by-products
(of the meat industry), so what's wrong with using them?
Since so many cats are
euthanized in animal shelters, shouldn't we use them in dissections?
What states have
Do any other
countries have laws regarding dissection?
How many animals are dissected?
A reasonable estimate is that about six million vertebrate
animals are dissected yearly in U.S. high schools alone, with an
additional, unknown number used in colleges and middle and
elementary schools. The number of invertebrate animals dissected is
probably comparable to that of vertebrates.
What species are used?
The most commonly dissected vertebrates are frogs, fetal pigs,
and cats. Others include dogfish sharks, perch, rats, pigeons,
salamanders, rabbits, mice, turtles, snakes, mink, foxes, and bats.
Invertebrates include crayfish, grasshoppers, earthworms, clams, sea
stars, squid, sea urchins, and cockroaches.
Where do the animals used in dissection come
from? Aren't most of the animals used in dissection captive-reared?
Back to Top
No. Most animal species used in dissection are predominantly
taken from the wild. These include frogs, spiny dogfish (sharks),
mudpuppies and other salamanders, birds, snakes, turtles, fish, and
Fetal pigs are by-products (of the meat
industry), so what's wrong with using them?
Many students object to using fetal pigs because of their concern
for the treatment of animals raised for human consumption. Almost
all of the 97 million pigs currently slaughtered for human
consumption in the United States each year are raised in crowded,
confined conditions, where they are deprived of space, fresh air,
and fresh forage for the duration of the shortened lives. Many also
have their tails cut off, and their teeth excised as piglets. The
fetuses that end up in the dissection tray are taken from pregnant
sows at the slaughterhouse.
Since so many cats are euthanized in animal
shelters, shouldn't we use them in dissections?
The HSUS condones transfer of euthanized animals from shelters to
research or educational institutions under only very limited
circumstances. First, no transactions of live animals should occur,
and any animal involved must have been humanely euthanized due to
either mortal illness or injury, or because no suitable home could
be found for the animal within a reasonable time.
Second, animal cadavers may be transferred only when the animal's
former owner has been informed of this policy and has given consent.
Full public awareness of any animal transfer policy is vital to
maintaining public trust in animal shelters. Regardless of owner
consent, however, shelters not wishing to supply animal carcasses to
institutions should not be compelled to do so.
Third, such transfers should not involve elementary, middle or
high schools. The HSUS opposes the practice of animal dissection in
pre-college classrooms for numerous reasons. At the college level,
we acknowledge the need for animal cadavers in veterinary training,
for instance, but emphasize the importance that any cadavers come
only from humanely euthanized animals and that no animal be raised
or killed specifically for use in dissection.
Fourth, transfer of animals from animal shelters must never
involve any exchange of money. The existence of so-called
"surplus" cats is a result of the tragedy of pet
overpopulation. Millions of cats are killed yearly in US shelters
because there are not enough homes for them all. When there is money
to be made in dealing in their carcasses, there may be less
incentive for addressing overpopulation. There is also the
perception that the shelter would rather gain from this tragedy than
spend their monetary resources necessary to solve it.
Finally, when the above criteria are met, it should be explained
to students that the animals are from an ethically sound source.
What states have dissection laws?
The following states currently have laws upholding a student's
right to choose humane alternatives to dissection without being
penalized: Florida, California, Pennsylvania, New York, and Rhode
Island. Maine has a similar state-wide policy, and Louisiana passed
a similar resolution in 1992. In Maryland, school boards are
required to include information on available alternatives in their
course listings. Many schools and school boards (e.g., the Chicago
Public School System) have independently enacted student choice
policies. Student choice legislation is pending in Illinois,
Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Do any other countries have laws regarding
Back to Top
Where exactly do you stand on the issue of the use of animals in
Animal dissection was banned from schools in Argentina in 1987,
and in Slovakia in 1994. In 1993 a law took effect in Italy that
recognizes the right of conscientious objectors to refuse to
participate in animals experimentation. In 1997 the Indian
government announced that animal dissection would be made optional
for school students in India, though that decision is yet to be
I am opposed to all use of animals in biomedical research.
Experimental techniques never tried before to save the life of a given
human or animal, when it has a reasonable chance of success, are
How you do feel about the use of animals to better scientific knowledge
and come up with new cures/medicines?
Animals hinder development of new cures/medicines, because animals
just do not work well enough as human models. About half of all drugs
released by the FDA are later reported to have serious side effects.
Occasionally, drugs that worked perfectly on animals cause terrible
human suffering as with thalidomide and several experimental vaccines.
Drugs are always tested on humans after they are developed and tested
on animals -- this proves that even the scientists know that animal
tests are too unreliable to work. If the tests are too unreliable, how
can developing the drugs on animals be reliable and the best way to
develop new cures/medicines?
The reason given for using animals instead of human cell cultures is
because one can't predict the effect that a drug will have on the
entire human body, because of the interactions between cells and the
hundreds of cells in the body. But animals are completely different --
it is impossible to predict whether a drug will or will not harm a one
species, human or not, no matter how many animals you test it on. Rats
and mice have many different reactions to drugs; how can you possibly
extrapolate rat results to humans? Even apes and chimpanzees are not
close enough to humans to be used for developing vaccines or cures.
You can infect a simian with the HIV virus, but he won't develop the
symptoms of AIDS, because his genetic code is sufficiently different
from humans as not to work.
Is animal experimentation necessary, or are there alternatives that we
should be looking for/using?
Many groups would like to see the implementation of the 3 R's. Do you
consider this enough, or does further action need to be taken?
There are lots of other ways that drugs can be developed, such as
computer modeling and human cell cultures. Animals are just one method
that happens to get most of the funding. Health is focused on
providing medicines/cures *after* people get sick. A good healthy
vegetarian diet and lots of exercise and reduction of risk factors
like smoking and environmental pollution -- that would prevent most
heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other major diseases.
The 3 R's are bullshit. Reduce, Refine, Replace. Reducing the number
of animals, or refining the methods used, do not eliminate the problem
that animal tests just aren't a valid way of testing. And "Replace" is
usually taken to mean "replacing" one type of animal testing with
another type of animal testing.
We need to abolish the use of animals by humans for "research."
What role does the government play in the animal experimentation issue?
Where do you obtain your data/information (just in general)?
Government funds the main organizations that hand out money for
research, it promotes animal welfare causes (which are usually
compatible with experimentation - even if animal rights causes are
not), it requires and regulates the testing of drugs and other new
chemicals. The extent of animal experimentation actually done by the
government is mainly military-related (bullets, biological weapons.)
It creates new research institutes.
Other activists and their flyers and books; the media; and the
scientific literature available at the university library. I try to
be conservative in presenting facts.
Does the media influence people's opinions on the right/wrong sides
of the issue?
How do you feel about the current legislation that says companies
(biomedical) must test their products on animals before they can be put
out on the market?
Does it ever! Every other week, the newswires have another article
proclaiming another "benefit" of animal research. About 1/4 of these
articles note that the treatment "may not apply to humans". I would
say that the media very strongly promote animal research (not so much
It's a bit of a scam. Because different species react differently,
animal tests can produce whatever results are wanted by the company
doing the testing -- they just have to pick the right "model" or
animal that doesn't react badly. Then, they can proceed to human tests
(which would not be necessary if animals were good "models") and see
if humans make it through. However, the human tests cannot test for
genetic defects or long-term problems caused by the new drugs, due to
their short nature (a week or so.) As a result, 50% of all drugs
approved by the FDA after the human testing end up to have serious
side effects, after they have been tested on the general population.
You can't have animal experimentation without human experimentation..
If I had to take a drug, I wouldn't want to unless it had been tested
extensively on the human population for a few decades. I cannot trust
the drug system.
The legislation was put in place by drug lobbyists to keep animal
testing going. Without animal testing, the number of drugs released
would shrink considerably, because animal tests would no longer be
there to "pass" them, and it would be harder to to "prove" that a drug
was OK for human consumption.
What do you think is the most important issue with respect to animal rights?
What is your opinion of animal testing by the Military? What
alternatives should be considered?
The right of animals to not be raised and killed by humans, especially
to be used for food. More animals are raised and killed in cruel ways
for food than for any other use.
(Motor vehicles are the second cause of death, and animal research
is the third. Pesticides/Chemicals/Agriculture may be even greater
than all three, if you consider the death of insects and mice to be
The use of animals by the military is mainly to test out new weapons.
Animals are shot at and killed in many nasty ways. This doesn't make
too much sense, because a pig's head will explode when hit by the
latest bullet in a much different way than a human civilian's head,
because it's a different shape. The alternative is to just not test
weapons on live animals. This is an example of the link between
human suffering (through war) and animal suffering.
What is your opinion of animal testing by private industry? What
alternatives should be considered?
Animal testing by cosmetic companies is done purely for legal reasons:
if anyone sues L'Oreal because their eyeliner made them blind, L'Oreal
can say in court, "We tested this eyeliner on rabbits by pinning their
eyes open and squirting eyeliner in and leaving it there for 2 weeks,
and only 2 out of 500 rabbits developed ulcers in their eyes. Our
product is safe!" The company doesn't really care that bunnies can't
cry (no tear ducts) and the court usually doesn't realize that the
product data isn't valid.
Also, there is no way to guarantee that a drug or cosmetic tested on
one species will be safe or will work on another species. Not even
rats and mice are similar enough to react the same way to most drugs.
So, when they test new drugs on animals, they try and get around this
by testing the drug on lots of animals, and seeing if they all react
the same. "OK, this new drug works beautifully on rats and mice, but
it kills guinea pigs, has no effect on dogs, and makes cats sick.
Should we now test it on humans?" Any drug tested on animals is
*always* tested on humans afterwards. That proves that the scientists
don't trust the animal test results at all!
Even after they do all that testing on humans, 50% of new drugs are
later found to have serious side effects. Even aspirin has serious
side effects! Some drugs, like thalidomide, passed all animal tests
and later showed up to have horrible side effects -- thalidomide causes
birth defects such as missing limbs.
What do you think should be done to prevent cruelty to animals?
What is your opinion of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals and
other similar organizations?
People have to learn about what cruelty is currently done to animals,
and decide if they want to be part of it. If they don't want to be,
they should stop eating animals and using products tested on animals,
and tell others about it. Most people just don't know or think about
It's very sad, but as far as I can see, most people just aren't smart
enough and kind enough to treat animals kindly. They could be, if
everyone was taught from a young age to be kind to animals, but most
people are not.
Almost all animal rights-type organizations do different things to
help animals. Some do a lot, some do almost nothing at all.
PETA mainly educates people about animal rights issues. I'm not sure
if dressing up like animals for protests is the best way to present the
issue of animal testing, but it sure gets the issue on the 11 o'clock
Some organizations are actually against animals; they pretend to be
for animal welfare but actually support hunting. For example, the
World Wildlife Fund, or Ducks Unlimited (Unlimited ducks for hunters)
or the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
What is your opinion of The Animal Liberation Front and other similar
Some organizations promote the welfare of animals, but still support
the idea that humans can overrule the rights of animals when convenient.
For example, the idea that we have the right to kill and eat animals as
long as they are raised under perfect conditions is promoted by
most humane societies. (I sure as heck wouldn't want to be a chicken being
cared for by one of these societies.)
Well, freeing animals without being able to make sure they will be
able to take care of themselves -- like letting 10,000 mink free from
a fur farm -- is bloody stupid.
Likewise, blowing up twenty lorries used to transport animals is
hopelessly stupid. People are responsible for their own ethical
decisions surrounding food, and the companies that grow and kill animals
for us merely fill that need as cheaply as possible.
These organizations have done a lot to expose the horrible cruelty
to animals in medical research labs and factory farms by taking videotapes,
so for that reason alone, I support them.
What do you do to help animals?
I let other people know about how animals are treated, and don't use
animals for food, clothing, or any other way.