Animals in Research, Education, and Teaching

There are religious beliefs that consider animals to be the embodiment of Gods or the chosen creatures of God. It is a well-known fact that Indian and Arabic religions give religious importance to their lives and as such, are accorded respect and treatment oftentimes even better than those accorded to the humans. Such beliefs are the reason for the existence of Kosher and Halal products. The words mean that the animals are treated with respect and slaughtered with as little distress, pain, and fear as their human handlers can inflict on the animals.

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Knowing what I know now about the way these animals are treated in the Indian and Arab parts of the world, I cannot help but wonder as to why the Western culture treats the animals as no better than a scientific experiment. I can only imagine how the rabbits, dogs, cats, lab mice, and other scientific testing animals feel as they sit locked in their cages, being poked and hurt all the time. Why do these Draize test procedures continue to exist even though we have laws regarding animal rights and welfare that have outlawed the test and seemingly replaced it with less invasive methods? The scientific belief is that certain animals share certain genetic traits with humans and these are the animals most often used for testing. So, let me ask you this question, if the tests are truly safe and non-harmful to the animals, why not test it on human beings instead? Why do human beings have rights protecting us from experimentation while the helpless animals suffer in the hands of the scientists?

The American College of Surgeons have issued an official statement pertaining to the treatment of animals during laboratory testing which indicates that “The American College of Surgeons supports the responsible use and humane care and treatment of laboratory animals in research, education, teaching, and product safety testing in accordance with applicable local, state, and federal animal welfare laws. Further, the membership believes that only as many animals as necessary should be used; that any pain or distress animals may experience should be minimized or alleviated; and that, wherever feasible, alternatives to the use of live animals should be developed and employed” ( Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons, 2002).

Kind words from the scientific community that is sadly lost upon the cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies that continue to experiment on and test their products on animals. Although I will grant that it may never be possible to stop the animal experimentation, it is my strong faith that leads me to believe that as medical science progresses with the varying uses of stem cell research, we will eventually see the day when there will no longer be a need for animal testing of drugs and other human cure related agendas.

In order to understand the reasons why humans tend to treat animals cruelly, we have to look back to the human workforce of the pre-1600’s when man , child, and beast were all set to work. Failure to do so brought upon the worker, including the animal that refused to work, such beatings that oftentimes resulted in death. While the children finally had the House of Refuge in America to turn to by 1825, it was not till New York philanthropist Henry Berg set up the American Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals in 1866 as a response to the way he saw horses being mistreated. It was an organization that grew from the task of saving horses to saving every kind of animal imaginable from unfair and cruel human treatment in the 21st century. As the first humane society in North America, ASPCA has acquired a global presence that follows the dictum of animals being entitled to kind and respectful treatment from their human handlers at all times and in all cases. As a private organization, the society functions thanks to private funding from over a million supporters. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the organization, they have successfully gotten animal rights laws passed that allow them the authority to act as “animal welfare police” which includes the power to arrest animal abusers and rescue those animals in need of emergency care and shelter.

Aside from the ASPCA, the other organization that has joined the front lines in fighting for animal rights and the prevention of animal cruelty is the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, more popularly known as PETA. The belief of the group is simple. Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any way. As per reading a quote from the book Animal Liberation by Peter Singer on the PETA website, the belief of the organization is that animal rights are based upon consideration instead of equal or identical treatment. That is the reason animals also have rights. They have the right to live carefree and pain free just like the human counterparts. Benjamin Bentham was also quoted on the same website as having stated that “The question is not ‘”an they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ but ‘Can they suffer?’” A question that is easily answered with a resounding “YES” (PETA, 2008). Just look at the goats that kneel and peal as they are led to slaughter, the pigs who squeal and cry as they are loaded onto slaughter trucks on their way to becoming a feast.

They suffer just as we do. They feel pain and fear death, just as a man facing his murderer before he pulls the trigger does. What makes the act even more cruel is that in their own primitive animal language, they too beg for their lives to no avail. Therefore, I firmly believe that any human to contributes to the death or maltreatment of an animal is no better than a murderer and abuser.

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Work Cited

  1. Bulletin Of The American College Of Surgeons. (2002). Statement On The Use Of Animals In Research, Education, And Teaching. Web.
  2. ASPCA. (2008). About The ASPCA. Web.
  3. PETA. (2008). Why Animal Rights? Web.
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