Helena Horton: Animal cruelty in University isn’t OK

Beagle Dogs in Research for Animal Testing

Peter Singer, a Philosopher who specialized in Animal Welfare and Liberation, is the last person you’d expect to be a moderate when it comes to animal testing. I agree with what he said, when he argued “Experiments [involving animals] serving no direct and urgent purpose should stop immediately…and we should seek to replace experiments that involve animals with alternative methods”.

Is a group of undergraduate Biologists suffocating then dissecting mice really serving a “direct and urgent purpose”? I don’t think so. Yes, they might learn a bit more about what it is like to slice into a recently alive gut than if they used a simulation. But this disregard for animal life is not appropriate, especially for those who often go into the scientific discipline in order to save lives.

“A kitten isn’t a textbook you can scrawl on”

The average person puts human life above animal life. If your mum was dying of cancer you would probably not shirk at slitting the throat of a hundred puppy dogs to save her—that’s natural. And I am not going to argue with that. I am going to argue with, however, using animals at an academic institution as learning instruments for scientists. A kitten is not a textbook you can scrawl on, a mouse is not a part of an electrical circuit you can run currents through.

At the University of York, as uncovered by Vision, we systematically murder animals for the sake of education. British Universities killed 1.3 million animals in research last year—and it’s not all mice & frogs, cats, dogs and emus were among the victims. Tests included purposefully inflicting stress on rodents, and torturing them to see how long it would take for them to die. They weren’t doing this to cure cancer or ebola—they were doing tests they’d done thousands of times before to teach a new crop of undergraduates how to undertake research.

Fish, frogs and birds were suffocated to death so undergraduates could squint at their tiny innards and psychologists deliberately inflicted stress on baby animals to see if it would give them mental health issues in adulthood. They purposefully gave baby animals depression for the sake of education. It is sickening that instead of reading about existing studies, or even watching psychologists or scientists performing urgent and useful experiments, they are throwing away the lives of millions of animals.

You may think that this is too big of a deal to make about the lives of tiny rodents who have brains the size of a small vegetable, that education is more important than purposefully infected frog skin and the unnecessary tumour on a kitten, the cancer in a puppy’s lung—but surely we should be working to be compassionate? Teaching our youngest and brightest that lives aren’t just something we can use for our own advantage and growth then throw away. We shouldn’t desensitize our students to the screams of gerbils in pain.

“We shouldn’t desensitize our students to the screams of gerbils in pain”

If you’re testing on animals for the greater good, and keeping the respect for life in the back of your mind at all times, treating the little creatures with as much compassion as you can, then fine. There aren’t enough viable alternatives for medical research yet. But we need to stop substituting animals for textbooks and relearn how to be compassionate.

Rabbit in Research for Animal Testing

Bottom Line:
Animals should not be suffering for the sake of education