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Posted on March 30th, 2013, by

Audacious works of first protectionists of animal welfare had cultivated the grain for a powerful social movement, the civil rights movement of the twenty-first century (Yount 42). By using different methods, often rather imposing and pretentious, activists of these organizations are trying to get attention of the public, making people to reconsider the morality of nature exploitation.
Humans have always had a close but complicated relationship with other species of our planet. The myths of the ancient cultures tell us about worshipping gods and spirits in animal form and describe animals as worthy of respect and sometimes awe. In addition, people have used domesticated animals as working partners and companions for thousands of years. At the same time, humans throughout history have killed animals to obtain food and clothing, bought and sold them as property, and exterminated them as vermin.

Today animal rights are an issue that is under debate. The public is divided on whether or not animals should have rights, are they feeling, thinking, and intelligent beings. They cannot agree if there should be limits and regulations on the way animals are treated and what they are used for all around the world. However animals from every country should have rights and there should be limits and regulations put on the way animals are treated and used in research, entertainment and clothing around the world.

Animal used in research
Besides of cruel treatment to domestic animals, vivisection is the biggest and the longest issue that concerned animal rights movement. Started with Hippocrates’ surgical experiments in the ancient times this practice continued and developed in the Renaissance, giving the humanity essential knowledge in anatomy and physiology. The first concern about vivisection sprang up in 1875 in Great Britain, after one of their scientists had published the dissection’s description of un-anesthetized animals. This fact caused the negative reaction of public shocked by painful experiments. The result was an adoption of strict law regulating the medical researches on vertebrates and obtaining a license for such experiments. Antivivisectionist societies in the USA, unlike their British counterparts, had a slight success in their struggle with government-supported scientific researches on animals until 1965.

That year a dog of one family was stolen and sold to the pounds and that fact was brightly covered in the press. A few months later appeared another publication in newspapers telling readers about terrible conditions of keeping dogs in shelters. These two events in pair caused the great negative reaction of public whose indignant letters flooded the Congress in 1966. Laboratory Animals Welfare Act (LAWA) adopted that year was mainly directed on protection of family pets and required to promulgate standards to govern the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of animals by dealers and research facilities (43).

More intensive concern of keeping animals in laboratories revived in the early 1980s after publishing of two videotapes made clandestinely by activists in the scientific laboratories. Those films were edited and shot by members of the powerful organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and showed the callous experiments with monkeys (macaques and baboons). From that moment, a great number of lawsuits had begun against researchers. This fact caused a multiple expanding the LAWA with the goal to emphasize the importance of minimizing pain and distress to animals during experiments (46). But in comparison with Europe animal welfare normative acts in U.S. are relatively lax as public feeling against brutal using animals in scientific researches in Europe is much stronger and respective laws in EU are more rigorous. The most typical species used in medical experiments and products testing are rats, mice, birds (85 to 95 percent of animals used in the laboratories), primates (mostly chimpanzee), cats, dogs and rabbits. The alternatives for scientific researches are cell culture techniques, operations with transgenic or genetically modified animals and the principle of the Three Rs:

Replace substitute tests and experiments using such things as cultured cells or computer simulations for tests and experiments on whole animals; reduce redesign tests and experiments so that they can be performed on smaller numbers of animals; and refine redesign tests or experiments to cause less pain and distress to animals. (53)

The beauty of the three Rs is that they provide a way for all parties to work together to advance the cause of both animals and humans, Richard Smith wrote in an editorial in the British Medical Journal in 2001 (53). But a lot of scientists, on the contrary, consider that making essential experiments without involving animals in them is a mistake, because Many of the processes that occur within the human body remain too complex to be simulated by a computer or a cell culture (54). So scientists are trying to refine their researches and to relieve the pain they bring to the experimental animals, and at the same time to improve the conditions of their housing.

It took some time for scientists to realize that using dirty’ animals [animals exposed to disease-causing microorganisms] can compromise the validity of experiments. Today, we are about to realize that the same could hold true if we use animals with impaired welfare. It is time to improve housing conditions for scientific, if not for ethical reasons. (55)

Another similar issue of confrontation is school education in the USA, where students at the biological classes are required to dissect the bodies of animals such as frogs and dogs. It is estimated that nearly 6 million vertebrates are used for students practicing in medical and surgical techniques each year in U.S. high schools alone. The alternative for such studies is preparing with a help of the special computer programs, which are available now and are cheaper than involving real animals. On the other hand, Dissection gives students a unique opportunity to observe how animals are structured to function the way they do (50). Proponents of these educational methods claim that experiments with animals give the students experience about dealing with living organisms, that can’t be compared with theoretical knowledge from simulation programs.

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