Ever since The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in England in 1824 was formed, there have been long running debates on the topic of animal rights. The first societies were formed to protect and maintain human treatment of work animals, such as cattle, horses and house hold pets. Towards the end of the 19th century more organizations were formed, this time to protest the use of animals in scientific experimentation. In today’s society groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have continued these traditional fights as well as adding new agendas. These new agendas include hunting, fishing, and dissection of animals in science classes.
The rights of animals have always been important to me during my life. This is due to the fact that I have had pets for as long as I remember. On this topic I feel as though having domesticated animals in the home is fine as long as proper care is taken of them. As for more controversial issue like animal research and experimentation my views vary. A few years ago I felt that any research or experimentation on animals was inhumane and unjust.
However after maturing and becoming more aware of the world, I now feel as though there are definite ‘goods’ that come from animal research that can not come from doing tests on humans. This view is by no means one sided. I also feel that there are some things being done to animals that just should not happen, such as the testing of cosmetics. In other areas of animal rights like dissection in the classroom I think that as long as the animals died naturally it is fine to use them to further a student’s education along with human cadavers. Of course, I hope that animal dissection can become a thing of the past with the advent of new technologies.
The rights of animals are watched out for by organizations dating back to the early 1800’s. I feel that this is an important step in protecting animals as long as they protest within there legal rights. In order to sum my opinion up animals do have certain rights but if experiments, research, hunting and dissection provide positive increases in knowledge that furthers the existence of the world it is a necessary thing that must be done.
Perhaps the biggest and most debated subject dealing with the rights of animals is the use of them in research and experimentation. Very few people would object to the use of animals if human lives were saved as a consequence. However the extremists who do object would do so on a few key points. Firstly, animals which are used are subjected to in humane treatment. This consists of tests such as the LD50, which entails giving an animal a lethal dose of a chemical or drug until 50% of them die. Also, experimenters are subjecting them to wound experiments, radiation experiments and studies on the effects of chemical warfare (PETA). Organizations such as PETA are also opposed to cosmetic testing on animals due to experimenters spraying, injecting, and feeding cosmetics to animals which cause labored breathing, blindness and death in some cases.
These organizations argue that cosmetics have already been tested on animals in the past why continue doing the same tests. Due to the protests of The Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing in 1981, Avon and Revlon have stopped using animals in their research (Comptons, CD). Experiments and research on animals such as the LD50 test and cosmetic tests are cruel and inhumane towards animals. They believe that animals have rights and they are just as important to society as humans are, therefore if humans are not used for these experiments then animals shouldn’t be either. Despite these objections for experimenting on animals there are positive results that come from it.
Research on animals is important in understanding diseases and developing ways to prevent them. The polio vaccine, kidney transplants, and heart surgery techniques have all been developed with the help of animal research. Through increased efforts by the scientific community, effective treatments for diabetes, diphtheria, and other diseases have been developed with animal testing (Bioethics). There are many reasons given for it to be necessary to work with animals in research.
First, scientists must be able to test medical treatments for effectiveness and drugs for their toxicity before being tested on humans. Also new surgical techniques before being used on humans must be tested on living things with circulatory and pulmonary systems like ours. No computer models, cell cultures, nor artificial substances can simulate flesh, muscle blood, bones and organs. If considered carefully there is no alternative to animal research. It is impossible to explain or predict the course of many diseases without observing the effects of it on the entire living system. In the classroom, it is argued; dissections must go on in order to further our knowledge.
In researching the topic of animal rights my eyes have been opened to various different reasons to support and not to support animal rights. After serious consideration of both sides of the argument, my opinion is that animals should be used in research and experiments, excluding cosmetic experiments. This type of animal use is fine as long as it results in positively advancing the human race. Despite this point of view I also believe this research must produce these results in a humane manner. Animals do have rights and should not be used for unnecessary things.
Finally, my hope for the use of animals in the classroom is that someday there will be enough technological advances for computer programs that will enable them to simulate a real animal. This actually goes for all animal testing, if we could simulate an animal or human on a computer we would not have to subject anyone to testing. Animals do have the right not to treated inhumanely whether it be in the home, laboratory, classroom or field, yet as long as animals are being used to help benefit the world without harming them, animals in my opinion can be used in some respects.
Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Compton’s New Media Inc. 1999.
Encyclopedia of Bioethics, Simon and Schuster. New York. 2001.
‘Animal Experimentation.’ People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). 1999. http://www.envirolink.org/arrs/peta/facts/exp/fsexp01.htm