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Vivisection/Animals in Research

LCA, Stop Animal Exploitation Now, Animal Defenders International, and Occupiers for Animal & Earth Liberation joined forces during World Week for Animals in Laboratories on April 26, 2012 to protest vivisection at UCLA. Video courtesy Seraph Films.

Vivisection is the practice of cutting into or using invasive techniques on live animals. The term is derived from the Latin word vivus, which means alive. Vivisection is commonly called animal experimentation and includes the use of animals for research, product testing and in education. Animal experimentation is conducted in a wide range of environments, including universities, hospitals, research institutes, independent laboratories that conduct research for corporations, military bases, and agricultural facilities.




One animal dies in a laboratory in the USA every second, in Japan every two seconds and in the UK every twelve seconds.

animal testing psaAnimal testing PSA by Christopher Ameruoso

Billions of non-human animals have been burnt, crushed, sliced, electrocuted, poisoned with toxic chemicals, and psychologically tormented in the name of scientific curiosity. What have we learned from all of this suffering? That animal research is inherently unethical, inevitably wasteful, and wholly unreliable. The U.S. squanders approximately $18 billion per year on animal experiments, much of which is funded by taxpayers, even though alternatives are less expensive and can be used repeatedly. And what do we get for our dollars? "Too much suffering for too little knowledge”.

The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?
-Philosopher Jeremy Bentham

In the United States during the year 2009, “1.13 million animals were used in experiments (excluding rats, mice, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and agricultural animals used in agricultural experiments), plus an estimated 100 million mice and rats”, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 2010 annual report.

There are three categories of research animals -- purpose bred, random source and conditioned:

Purpose bred animals are bred specifically for research and obtained from Class “A” dealers who raise all their animals in a closed colony on their own premises. Researchers claim that the “advantages” of using purpose bred animals include: more uniform genetic control, fewer health problems, excellent vaccination histories, animals free of common diseases and parasites, and animals accustomed to cage life. Adversely, purpose bred dogs are more expensive and they lack the proper socialization necessary for research.

Rabbit at vivisection labRandom source animals are not specifically bred for research and are purchased from pounds, Class “B” dealers or donated to research. Random source animals come from a random genetic pool; that is, they have not come from controlled in-breeding. Researchers in the area of organ and cell transplantation, for example, prefer the use of "randomly outbred" animals. Randomly out bred animals, the type most commonly found in pounds and acquired through “B” dealers, have widely divergent genetic backgrounds.

Conditioned animals are purpose bred and random source animals that have been quarantined, vaccinated, and determined free of parasites and any other medical or biological anomaly.

Cat at vivisection labDuring my medical education…I found vivisection horrible, barbarous, and above all, unnecessary.
-Dr. Carl Jung

Humans and Animals: The Similarities
The central nervous system of many animals is quite similar to our own, meaning that they feel pain in much the same way that we do. If I touched the lit end of a cigarette to a rat's nose, would it hurt him any less than if I did it to you? We frequently act as though animals are altogether inferior, ignoring their tremendous complexity and capacity to feel pain. Yet anyone who has lived with a cat or a dog knows that animals feel pain and that they feel it just as agonizingly and as deeply as we do. Moreover, the limbic system in the human brain, which accounts for our emotional range, is prominent in mammalian species. They thus experience emotions as intense and authentic as our own.

Humans and Animals: The Differences

All animal species are unique, particularly at the cellular level where disease occurs. While the central nervous system of many animals is quite similar to our own, their other systems (cardiovascular, for instance) may differ greatly. The importance of these differences cannot be underestimated, for they obfuscate research data to the extent that it cannot reliably be said to reflect human reactions to the same stimuli. It therefore seems illogical to utilize animals in order to test a hypothesis about humans.

Moreover, human disease occurs within the complex structure of the human body where a number of variables interact to cause the resulting disorder. These variables can include genetic and environmental influences, bad habits, and stress. Because many human diseases do not occur naturally in animals, researchers must artificially induce them in the laboratory. This can only yield inaccurate data, as symptoms of a disease generated in an experiment cannot adequately predict or duplicate naturally-occurring diseases in humans.

  • Sheep can swallow enormous quantities of arsenic and remain healthy.
  • Morphine calms and anesthetizes man but causes maniacal excitement in cats and mice.
  • Fialuridine does not harm dogs and monkeys but often proves fatal to humans.
  • Almonds can kill foxes.
  • Parsley is poisonous to parrots.
  • Penicillin is fatal to guinea pigs.
  • Chocolate can kill dogs.

Monkey at vivsection lab

I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil.
-Dr. Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic

Examples of Inaccurate/Unnecessary Experiments

Dog in vivisection labTobacco (Cancer Research)
A prime example of vivisection's inaccuracy is tobacco, or more broadly, cancer research. Because animal experimentation did not link cigarette smoking with lung cancer, as clinical and epidemiological evidence had, warning labels on cigarettes were delayed for years. Hundreds of thousands of people died from lung cancer in the interim.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)

Another example of the erroneousness of animal experimentation is AIDS research. Chimpanzees do not develop the AIDS virus, even when infected with it. Nevertheless, the National Institute of Health, which is funded by our tax dollars, has spent over $10 million on chimpanzee AIDS research and plans to spend at least an additional $4.5 million.

Ethically, animal experimentation presents a conundrum for researchers. They argue that animal experimentation is useful because animals are like us. However, they simultaneously assert that it is, and can only be, morally justifiable if animals are not like us. Thus the argument for vivisection is predicated on a contradiction that cannot be resolved.

britches closeThe Laboratory
The laboratory environment is often so stressful for animals that their hormone levels, cancer rates, and susceptibility to infections are impaired; the anxiety triggered by confinement frequently suppresses their immune systems. They often exhibit illnesses, making it difficult, if not impossible, for researchers to determine which symptoms are the result of the experiment and which can be attributed to the laboratory situation itself.

Laboratory’s keep everything very secretive
Intentionally inflicting suffering and eventual death on an animal could result in a criminal conviction if done in public under any state's law. Yet because vivisection is done behind closed doors at the hands of scientists, the suffering continues. To hide this suffering, animal experimentation laboratories are built without windows. They have extensive security systems to prevent public entry. They are hidden away in basements, cellars, and underground rooms.

The image the vivisectors present to the general public is that of an anesthetized rat in a comfortable cage. The reality, however, is that researchers often do not use anesthesia in product testing, for instance, to reduce variable factors. Rats and other animals, then, are left to suffer in silence. Their vocal cords are frequently cut to spare the vivisectors the sounds of their screams.

rabbitsThe Gross Misconception: Your Child or Your Dog
Informed people are able to understand that making such a choice is ludicrous and unnecessary, but the biomedical and pharmaceutical companies continue to generate lies in order to make money. Vivisection is a business. It uses images of sick children and notions of medical necessity to play upon our sympathies and generate revenue. By producing inaccurate data and squandering incalculable resources, vivisection has cost millions of children their lives. Children all over the world routinely die from starvation and curable diseases while we waste millions on animal experimentation. Those millions could be spent feeding, clothing, vaccinating, and educating children in disadvantaged areas. Our universities spend billions each year on animal experimentation, money that could instead be put toward scholarships and grants so that every young person could gain a college education.

Examples of Animal Experiments Funded by Tax-payers

  • To study the results of head trauma, primates were strapped into machinery to receive high-impact blows to the head. A video camera captured footage of vivisectionists taunting the injured animals, who were left with severe brain damage. (University of Pennsylvania)
  • To examine severe burns on live tissue, restrained pigs were burned alive with a flamethrower until their charred flesh could be removed in large pieces. (U.S. Army)
  • To measure injury recovery, vivisectionists strapped dogs down and cut apart the skin on their knees, leaving flaps. At the end of the study, all of the dogs were killed. (Uniformed Services University-Department of Defense)
  • To demonstrate that the eye's protein levels are the same in sight deprived monkeys compared to normal ones, animal experimenters sewed the monkeys' eyelids shut. (Emory University, NIH project P51 RROO165-38)
  • In a taxpayer-funded study, researchers at the School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health at the University of Adelaide are using mice in an attempt to determine whether a high-fat diet affects female fertility. To demonstrate the effects of the high-fat diet, one group of the female mice were deprived of food and water overnight, weighed, and serum samples obtained. The study does not describe how these samples were obtained. (
  • The government-run space agency, NASA, committed $1.75 million in taxpayer money to fund experiments subjecting one-foot tall squirrel monkeys with massive amounts of radiation. (Vegan Vine)

rabbit dropperHow much money is spent on vivisection?
Every year, the U.S vivisection industries spend over $18 billion on animal experiments. The U.S. National Institutes of Health is the world's greatest source that funds animal experimentation, with an annual budget of more than $13 billion.

The Animal Welfare Act
The Animal Welfare Act, which concerns the housing, handling, feeding, and transportation of animals used in experiments, does not regulate the conditions and procedures that vivisectors can use. Research institutions can choose whether or not they wish to comply with the guidelines set forth in the Act. The USDA, which is responsible for enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, excludes mice, rats, birds, and farm animals from the Act; those animals thus find themselves without any protection.

Your Money or Your Health
A healthy human population means a dead pharmaceutical industry. If we are well, they don't profit. It is therefore logical, though ethically questionable, for the industry to perform one animal experiment after the next, as such research will not yield real cures but instead keep us dependent on their product.

rabbit eyeResearchers who perform product testing on animals often do so to safeguard their employers' wallets. If a product proves defective and a consumer sues, animal testing provides an excuse: "Our animal tests showed no reason to question the safety of the product." While this argument may save companies some dollars, it does absolutely nothing to protect us from dangerous products.

Animal experimenters receive large grants, regardless of the merit of their projects. Researchers are expected to get their work published, and vivisection gives them the opportunity to do just that. Thus, every year $18 billion dollars is spent on vivisection. While millions of Americans cannot even afford to see a physician, when so many go hungry, and when prevention programs that could avert many diseases (were they better funded) are discontinued, vivisectionists are wasting our tax dollars through government funded grants. They are squandering our money on, for example, a $1,329,332 study to demonstrate that malnourished rats bear offspring who are mentally retarded (Boston University, NIH project P01 HD2253900-01).

Pound Seizure (view more info on Pound Seizure)
Pound seizure, in which animals who arrive at the pound are required by law to be turned over to laboratories for experimentation on demand if they are not reclaimed by their guardian or adopted out, is still in effect in some animal shelters. While many pound animals are euthanized, euthanasia involves a quick and painless death. Lab animals, on the other hand, are subjected to the ordeal of being transported to the research facility, the trauma of the laboratory situation, and to the pain of several experiments before being killed.

dog with scarMedical Schools
Many of the nation's medical schools, including Dartmouth and Stanford, do not use animals to train their students. The majority of them, including Harvard and Yale, have done away with live animal laboratories in which cats, dogs, and other animals are strapped to tables and injected with drugs. After undergoing serious procedures, the animals often wake up in pain only to be euthanized. These cruel labs are rather expensive; each dog lab at the University of Colorado for instance, costs taxpayers approximately $40,000.

Hippocrates instructed, "First, do no harm." Students attending universities and medical schools that teach vivisection are expected to inflict pain on their first patients, an act which no doubt desensitizes them to suffering. A better lesson might be Albert Einstein's: "Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

Alternatives to Animal Testing

  • In vitro studies
  • Computer modeling
  • Epidemiological studies
  • Cell and tissue cultures
  • Clinical studies
  • CAT, PET, and MRI scans
  • Quantitative-structure activity relationship analysis
  • Chemical toxicity assays
  • Supervised operating room experience

Some of the Medical Advances Made Without Vivisection

  • AIDS was first identified in non-animal studies when rare infections and malignancies began appearing in patients in the late 1970’s.
  • Clinical studies revealed that lowering cholesterol levels with drugs, diet, or both prevents heart attacks and strokes.
  • Discovery of Penicillin
  • Development of x-rays
  • Production of Humulin, a synthetic copy of human insulin, which is superior to animal-derived sources in terms of improving human health.

Download a PDF of Companies That DO NOT Test On Animals
Download a PDF of Companies That DO Test On Animals

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Vivisection is the blackest of all crimes that man is at present committing against God and his fair creation.
-Mahatma Gandhi

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