Most Americans believe that
only a few animals are used in research. There’s no
way of knowing how many animals are used, because American
laws do not require researchers to report on the experiments
they perform. The best estimate is that about 80 million animals
were used in American experiments in 1980. That’s about
6 to 7 million a month.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of cats
and dogs end in laboratories. Hundreds of thousands of farm
animals….horses…pigs…. and cows. Millions
of birds are used….as well as frogs, mice and rats.
The business of breeding and selling animals in the United
States is growing. Fifty years age the use of lab animals
was just four percent of what it is today. Five to six billion
dollars of taxpayers’ money was spent by the U.S. government
in 1982 for grants to biomedical research.
The law itself does not touch the experiments.
It does not regulate the experiments at all. Sometimes the
research facility will have an animal care committee which
may discuss the procedures within the experiments. The subject
of pain never comes up.
Probably the biggest myth that exits is that
all animal experimentation is for some urgently necessary
medical purpose. This is very, very far from the truth. There
are huge areas of experimentation that have nothing to do
with saving lives or curing diseases.
The United States government funds about
two thirds of all experimentation in biomedical research each
year. It was during World War II that every branch of the
military began to use significant sums of taxpayers’
money for animal research, animals was used in A-bomb testing.
Animals of many kinds were shipped aboard
the target vessels to serve as proxies for human crews in
man’s endeavor to discover measures to counteract the
deadly results of nuclear fission. The result does not tell
us what scientific results were obtained, since all of the
animals were killed.
Monkeys at the Los Alamos Science Labs are
serving as substitutes for jet pilots. The purpose of the
experiment is to determine how well and how long a bomber
pilot can function after fatal doses of radiation.
The laboratory animal industry has done a
fairly good job in keeping away from the public a lot of knowledge
about how unnecessary and also how painful these experiments
are. If the public did know, they would be a lot more disturbed.
The majority of animal experiments are wasteful.
We know for a fact that species vary in different ways in
how susceptible they are to certain things. So there are some
things that will make humans ill that would have no effect
on a dog, or a monkey, or a mouse.
Aspirin can kill cats at low doses, but not
human beings. If guinea pigs had been used to test penicillin,
we might not have this useful drug. At low doses it can kill
Insulin can produce deformities in infant
rabbits and mice, but not in human beings.
We should care about our animals and respect
them as we respect human beings.
It has been said that from every animal’s
eye comes the gleam of humanity as they look out at us, and
from that gleam they claim a fellowship with us.