The use of animals in research continues to be hidden behind thick concrete walls in laboratories designed to “control” every aspect of these animals’ lives. There are no windows that allow light to penetrate these miserable, deplorable conditions. No loving members of their family, peer group, species or other cohorts with whom to cuddle with and to seek consolation.
I dare say that not one person confronted with the visual presentation of the true horrors in these laboratories would condone the continuation of such atrocious cruelty. Nonetheless, the inherent problem lies in the hidden nature of such laboratory “research.” Out of sight and out of mind could never be more true than for the most devastating daily events of these animals’ lives.
I would like to believe that society has advanced far enough that such experiments can at least be understood by most if not all as antiquated, unnecessary and ineffective. When asking others about their beliefs with respect to animal testing, most people will say that if there is an adequate alternative, use the alternative. However, what about all those situations where there is no alternative to the “traditional” animal testing? Since I am far from an expert, I can’t comment on which tests have come to see the light of modernity against animal testing, but I do know that the numbers continue to grow. A great resource would be to check out the National Anti-Vivisection Society’s web site, http://www.navs.org.
What I’m wondering is why it is that when such a question is posed, the almost universal response will be something along the lines of, “If my loved one is dying of an incurable disease and there are animal tests that need to be done that could save my loved one’s life, how could you expect me to choose the animals over my loved one?” The animal welfare perspective is then forced into an awkward situation, with no response having any completely winning appeal. Of course, it is obvious that the issue is not “choose an animal or your loved one.” The issue is “why is animal testing continuing”?
For those who would continue the discussion, push the boundaries, question views–yours and theirs–and do whatever it takes to broach the topic! The thick concrete walls that hide the horrificly invasive research and testing on animals should not be permitted to blockade free thought and discussion. While it may be uncomfortable, at least it will make someone think about a topic to which they might otherwise continue to turn a blind eye. The discussion could veer into areas questioning why antiquated and ineffective animal testing continues? What is science doing about it? How does government affect this role? What are businesses and companies doing about this? Why does it continue when alternatives exist? Who is regularly using alternative testing (excellent case in point, the European Union) that is safe and appropriate (New Jersey just signed into law a decision to mandate non-animal testing for personal care products, where alternatives exist)?
Another direction for the conversation could lead to a less confrontational area, but still just as important, morphing the topic into a discussion of animal testing for consumer product safety, especially in situations where the extrapolation of data for human purposes is faulty at best.
When the person then realizes that something as easy as purchasing products can still make their position “known,” (large name brands like Tom’s of Maine toothpaste or Method cleaning products are widely available in big retail stores, the choice is easy for everyone to make) it becomes less daunting to accept that change must and can happen with individual decisions. While such gestures may be considered baby steps, collectively, it can make a difference. Most people want to feel good about what they do for themselves and for those whom they love, if these actions can more easily include animal-friendly choices, then let’s consider applauding these actions, no matter how small. It will only be a matter of time before we can see the tipping point.
Some links for animal-cruelty free products can be found on the websites for the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), just enter in the name of the company to see if there’s information, http://www.navs.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ain_pt_whois, or the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), http://www.caringconsumer.com/resources_companies.asp, click on the links for downloadable PDF or Microsoft Word formats of the most up-to-date list of companies that do and do not test on animals.
Thus, while the ultimate aspiration to many who are concerned with animal welfare is when animal testing will stop, in the meantime, the carrot may sometimes be a helpful tool to at least reducing the prevalence of animal testing. Commend the small steps that are being made, push for larger steps and provide support towards the hope of tomorrow, where the cruelty and endless suffering of animals used in testing will cease to mar our world.