Animal testing is not a new thing. For many centuries scientists and testers in research have used animals of all kinds. Most of the animals are small ones like rodents – rats, mice, hamsters and gerbils. Some dogs, cats and a variety of goats, monkeys and rabbits have also been used. The animal rights issue is an emotional one. For decades the value of animal research has been grossly overrated. Although researchers claim that they depend on animal test data to achieve medical advances, we should demand other means of research and there should be laws assuring a minimum level of animal protection because testing on animals is cruel, inhumane, and often unnecessary. The American Medical Association has stated that it believes that research involving animals is essential to maintaining and improving the health of human beings. They point out that all advances in medical science in the 20th century, from antibiotics to organ transplants, has been achieved either directly or indirectly through the use of animals in laboratory experiments.
Arguments for animal experimentation may question the morality, necessity, and validity of these studies. The moral issue on animal experimentations concerns the need to protect human life and to improve the quality of life. The gains in human health and well being outweigh the cost in animal suffering (which nonetheless should be kept to a minimum), in this viewpoint. It would be immoral to conduct such tests on humans, and so animals serve as our stand-ins for many kinds of testing and research. Those who support animal testing may care deeply about animals but don’t place them on an equal status with humans.
Research on animals may be deemed necessary for a variety of reasons: to develop vaccines and treatments and cures for diseases, to ensure that new products are safe to use. Such as making sure that they won’t blind us, burn our skin, or even kill us (which did happen in several instances, before product safety testing was required by law); and to help students, especially prospective doctors, veterinarians, and so on, learn their way around a body.
Animals do make good research subjects for many purposes and research on them can tell us a great deal about ourselves. Animals are, in many ways, biologically similar to humans and are susceptible to many of the same health problems.Some species may serve as particularly good models for certain aspects of human health or physiology. Much of what we know about the immune system, for example, has come from studies with mice, and much of what we know about the cardiovascular system has come from studies with dogs. Many heart surgery techniques, such as coronary bypass surgery, artificial heart valve insertion, and pacemaker implants, were studied first in dogs before being used in people.
Animals may make even better research subjects than humans in some regards. For example, many species have relatively short life cycles, so they can be studied throughout their entire life span or across several generations. Furthermore, scientists can control certain aspects of an animal’s environment, diet, temperature, lighting, and so on, more easily than would be possible with people. Supporters of the use of animals in research argue that alternative methods can’t fully replace the use of animals, and may never do so. Neither cells grown outside a body nor computer programs can predict the complex interactions that occur in an entire living system. Countless medical treatments, techniques, and technologies have come about, at least in part, through animal experimentation. The development of immunization against such diseases as polio, diphtheria, mumps, measles, rubella, pertussis, and hepatitis all involved research on animals, as did the discovery of insulin and the study of diabetes. Animal research also has played a part in the development of organ transplantation, hip replacement, chemotherapy, cardiac pacemakers, coronary bypass surgery, ongoing efforts to understand and treat AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease, and more.
Animal research has played a role in many advances in veterinary medicine, including the development of vaccines for rabies, parvovirus, and distemper. Various devices and treatments developed through animal research such as pacemakers, hip replacement, diabetes treatments, dental care, and chemotherapy are used in veterinary as well as human medicine. Some animal research