Background on Animal Testing

The Issue

  • It is estimated that  more than 14 million rats and mice and 1.4 million other kinds of mammals are used in research each year.
  • These experiments can be painful, damaging and deadly to the animals used.

The Flipside

  • Many believe that testing potentially harmful cosmetic products on animals is unnecessary and wrong.
  • On the other hand, scientific research experiments are done on animals so that humans will ultimately suffer less. Pain is also inflicted on animals through these experiments in the hopes that fewer animals will suffer later.
  • Consider that important vaccines, for polio and hepatitis, were discovered through animal testing and important advances have been made towards curing paralysis using animal testing.

How Animals Are Treated in the Labs

  • Small animals are kept in clear or white plastic boxes. Larger animals, like dogs, cats, and primates live in wire cages.
  • Laws were passed designed to ensure that cages are warm, clean and large enough for the animals to turn around, stand, and lie down.
  • During experiments, some animals are given medicine so that they don’t feel pain or distress, but thousands are not.

Where Do the Animals Go Afterward?

  • Most animals are used in only one experiment. Most are euthanized, or put to death.
  • All ages of animals are used, so some are euthanized soon after they are born.
  • Some, however are able to live their entire life. Some chimpanzees are able to “retire” and go to the Chimp Haven sanctuary in Louisiana.

Progress Being Made

  • Scientists need to have their research approved by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
  • If the laws of IACUC are not followed, scientists are penalized.

What You Can Do

  • So far, most of the changes made in animal testing have come not because of scientists, but because of people like you lobbying your government. You can get informed on the issues and make your government listen. Look up your legislator to find the phone number and email address of legislators for your state. Make sure your call or letter is polite, concise and based on factual information.
  • Be an informed consumer. Don’t buy makeup and cosmetics that are tested on animals if you are opposed to animal testing.
  • You may have the legal right to refuse to dissect in the classroom. Anatomy can be taught in many other ways, so talk to your teachers, and school administrators about banning dissection in your school.

Source: ASPCA