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Throughout recent history, mostly
in American society, a general topic commonly up for discussion is the ethical
treatment of animals. Much debate has resulted from this topic, with the major
question being,” should animal life be given the same respect as human life.” We are in fact at the top of the food chain,
so does that give us the power away from those beneath us? Although animals’
physical appearance may be different than ours such as having fur, tails and
four legs it doesn’t make them any less important than us. Animals eat, breath
and also have necessities in order to survive just as we do.  Approximately each year, over 100 million
animals are used for animal testing worldwide.  Animals are being used
from all over for animal testing ranging from drugs to our simple everyday shampoo.

An interesting question to ask is if all this medical research being done on
these innocent animals is really necessary to save human lives? Some people may
be against the idea of animal testing and others are in favor of more research
being done in order to keep up with the constant changes that occur in the
medical practice.

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To fully explain the act of
animal testing or research, I will answer what it is exactly. An animal test is
any specific experiment or test in which a live animal is forced to undergo
something that is likely to cause pain, suffering, distress or even death. To
be clear, animal experiment is not the same as taking your pet to the
veterinarian. According to Reagan, he stated in his book;

What’s wrong—fundamentally
wrong—with the way animals are treated isn’t the details that vary from case to
case, it’s the whole system. The forlornness of the veal calf is pathetic,
heart wrenching; the pulsing pain of the chimp with electrodes planted deep in
her brain is repulsive; the slow torturous death of the raccoon caught in the
log-hold trap is agonizing. But what is wrong isn’t the pain, isn’t the
suffering, isn’t the deprivation. These compound is what’s wrong.  This is the prime reason there are laws that
protect animals from being harmed in certain situations (Reagan,1989)

The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 goal is to establish
proper standards for the treatment of animals, including those being used for
research purposes. There is an exception though to this law because the only
animals that are exempt from this act includes birds, cold-blooded animals, laboratory
bred mice and farm animals. So only an estimated 25 million animals used each
year for research are essentially protected under this law.

The Human Society of the Unites
States is one of the nation’s most effective animal protection organization
thus far. They strongly oppose the use of all animals in research and the use
of non-human primates. They still feel that despite their progress in the
reduction of cats and dogs being used in research is reduced, that the numbers
of other types of animals being used is still very high. Although there has
been an implementation of stricter regulation policies, such as the Animal
Welfare in addition to others, there was a case where a medical doctor used a
dog to induce a brain aneurysm in order to show a group of sales personnel how
to properly use a medical device. Sales personnel had no experience or
knowledge in medical training and were still allowed to practice the procedure
on the dog. This dog was later euthanized after being used in the experiment. Some
people may argue that the dog had no idea of what his fate would have been
after the procedure, and therefore is inhumane treatment for what he went
through for the sole purpose of selling a product on the market.

            Today, some scientists have realized that experiments on
animals are cruel, expensive and not completely applicable when it comes to
human science advances. During a government meeting that was held for funding
for research, one of the U.S. National institutes Health director decided to
speak up and clarify that experimenting on animals for the better good of human
health has been a major failure. As he stated to his colleagues;

We have
moves away from studying human disease in humans…. We all drank the Kool-Aid on
that one, me included…. The problem is that animal testing hasn’t worked, and
it’s time we stopped dancing around the problem… We need go refocus and adapt
the new methodologies for use in humans to understand disease biology in
humans.

The people for ethical
treatment of animals, commonly known as Peta, had affiliates that help fund the
development of many other non-animal experimentation methods. They strive to
promote this to the government and companies around the world. To make people
aware of their success in these alternative methods they publish their research
and compare it to the traditional animal testing that other countries may still
be using. I will be mentioning some of the few examples that have been made
available instead of opting for animal research.

            There are alternatives that have been validated to being
better than using animals in research. In 1959, Russel and Burch introduced the
3R’s—refine, reduce, and replace as an alternative. First, refining animals use
by lessening or eliminating pain or distress in animals or enhancing their
well-being overall. Second, reducing animal use by decreasing the number of
animals requires for testing while obtaining the testing objectives. Thirdly,
replacing animal use with either non-animal methods or less developed animal
species. One example that they use is replacing a mouse with a fish. Russel and
Burch’s idea pushes towards they eventual removal of animals from research.

They believe that animals such as invertebrates, embryos and microorganisms are
more favorable as replacements. Studies have shown that the overall concept of
their research is more favorable and more people agree with this method of
research being more acceptable.

            Epidemiological studies consist of studying naturally
occurring disease and health in human populations around the world. Due to the
data collected from these studies over time, it has been made it successful for
researchers and practitioners in the medical field to understand the causes,
treatments and prevention of many human illnesses. Furthermore, this method is
very important when it comes to identifying risk factors which is a powerful
tool used in healthcare as to prevention of disease before it actually occurs.

A prime example would be the link associated with smokers and lung cancer
occurrence. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC states, “Cigarette
smoking is known to be the number one risk factor for lung cancer—in the Unites
States, cigarette smoking is linked about 80% to 90% of lung cancers.”

            A
popular method many people are familiar with now is Autopsies and Post-mortem
studies. They allow for the examination of tissues and organs of the human body
after death in order to come to a conclusion of the cause of death or existence
of any conditions that haven’t come to light yet. Autopsy research alone has
been responsible for the discovery of many disease such as fetal alcohol
syndrome, hepatitis, aplastic anemia and Legionnaire’s disease, just a few to
mention out of the many. Since people are donating their bodies to research,
organ banks have come into existence which in turn allows researcher to access
the supply along with details about that person’s medical history. Mc Lean
hospital, located in Massachusetts, has the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource
center which is now one of the largest brain tissue research centers in the
world. An estimate of over 6,000 bran specimens have been donated—with a
majority being from people who had a history of neurological disorders. They
are the best research center when studying neurological disease such as
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. 

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