A mouse or your child — which is more important? This is a question that opponents to animal testing must ask themselves. Without animal testing many cures, vaccinations, and treatments for life-threatening diseases would not be available. Everyday it provides scientists with critical research information to help humans. Animal testing has been a major contributor to the progress of medicine for hundreds of years.
In the mid-19th century, Louis Pasteur used animal testing to discover cures for both cholera and anthrax. He used both chickens and rabbits as test patients in his research. His findings also later resulted in a reduction of infection due to more sanitary means of sterilizing surgical instruments. Following Pasteur's work, other scientists have found causes of and vaccinations for many infectious diseases. These include rabies, tetanus, whooping cough, and several others. The investigation of these diseases relied very heavily upon animal experiments. Similar work continues to this day. Recently, a vaccine was developed for Hemophilus influenza, a cause of meningitis, which before caused death or severe brain damage (Botting 17).
Supporters of animal testing believe that using animals for research is a humane way to advance in the future of medicine. Animals are not treated inhumane as many people may think. They are not subjected to needless experiments or to any type of pain that can be avoided. In fact most never undergo experiments where pain is even a factor. "In 1994, the Department of Agriculture reported that 61% of research animals were not subjected to painful procedures, and another 31% received anesthesia or pain-relieving drugs. The remaining 8% did experience pain, often because the purpose of the experiment was involving the improvement of the understanding of chronic pain (Zak 321)." Animals used for testing are treated with a great respect by scientists and are not thought of as a endless resource. They are the reason for our huge advances in past medical studies.
Animal testing and research have not only been beneficial to humans, but also other animals. Results to many tests have rendered valuable solutions for common animal problems. "Vaccines against rabies, distemper, and parvo virus in dogs are a spin-off of animal research, as are immunization techniques against cholera in hogs, encephalitis in horses, and brucellosis in cattle. Drugs to combat heart-worms, intestinal parasites, and mastitis were developed in animals used for experimental purposes (Loeb 309)." Animals can also profit from experimental surgeries. These surgeries aid in future cases of illness in either human or animal. Developments like these have a very positive effect on the lives of animals.
Animal testing has provided innumerable benefits for humans. Scientists are able to use different animal breeds to get the best results that will compare to human bodies. Therefore cures, treatments, and even vaccinations are being developed everyday. " Several diseases that are curable or treatable today include diphtheria, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, diabetes, appendicitis and several types of cancer (Rowan 13)." Without at least some assistance from animal testing these invaluable advancements would have never been achieved.
Opponents to animal testing have presented some very good arguments. One of the strongest issues that they discuss is alternative methods. These methods suggested range from tissue cultures to bacteria. Although some studies may utilize these methods, they are not valid for all scientific research.
Ultimately, you can't prevent blindness in bacteria, which don't have eyes. You can't treat blood pressure in tissue cultures, which don't have a heart or blood vessels. You can't relieve arthritis in protozoa, which don't have bones or joints. To study such common and often devastating disorders, researchers have no choice but to work at least some of the time with animals that have relevant organs. Nor can surgery — such as organ transplants or re-attachment of severed limbs — be perfected without animal trials (Davis). Alternative methods should be used in situations relevant to a specific scientific study. However, scientists must use animals in circumstances that require bodily systems similar to that of a human.
Throughout history animal testing has been a major contributor to society. It provides valuable benefits for both people and animals. Many scientists believe that future studies involving testing will yield much more medical knowledge. However, all supporters agree that animal testing is a sacrifice that has to be made in order for all humans and animals to continue and improve life.
Botting, Jack H. "Animal Research Is Vital to Medicine." Psychology. 29th ed. Ed. Karen G. Duffy. Guilford, CT: Dushkin, 1999. 17-19.
Davis, Donald A. "Is There an Alternative?" Drug and Cosmetic Industry. July. 1983. Online. Infotrak. 11 Nov. 1999.
Loeb, Jerod M. "Human vs. Animal Rights: In Defense of Animal Research." Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol. 262. No. 19. 1989. Rpt. Taking Sides. 1st ed. Ed. Thomas A. Easton. Guilford, CT: Dushkin, 1995. 308-317.
Rowan, Andrew N. "The Benefits and Ethics of Animal Research." Scientific American. Feb. 1997. Rpt. Psychology. 29th ed. Ed. Karen G. Duffy. Guilford, CT: Dushkin, 1999. 13.
Zak, Steven. "Ethics and Animals." The Atlantic Monthly. March. 1989. Rpt. Taking Sides. 1st ed. Ed. Thomas A. Easton. Guilford, CT: Dushkin, 1995. 318-326.