An estimated 25 to 35 million animals are helplessly used in the United States each year for three main purposes; biomedical and behavioral research, education, and drug and product testing (Fox, 58). Animals range from mostly rodents to rabbits, cats, dogs, and monkeys. The conditions in which laboratory animals are kept in are not good at all. Cages are too small and the animals are deprived of social interaction (59). Three examples of the use of scientific research on animals are the Draize test, LD/50 test, and toy tests.
The Draize test is the most common procedure to test for irritation. Animals used in this test are rabbits, mainly due to their extremely sensitive eyes. Because rabbits have no tear ducts, it makes it easier for scientists to observe because the rabbits cannot wash test materials out of their eyes. In performing this test, a rabbit’s head is placed in stock to prevent the animal from scratching or pawing at the eye in which a substance has been placed. The lower lid of one eye is pulled down and away from the eye.
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Then, the test substance such as nail polish remover, shampoo, or mascara is dropped into or smeared on the eye. The other eye acts as a control. Testers look for redness in the affected eye, swelling, and other signs of irritation. Corneal ulcers and blindness are often the result. After the test, the rabbits are either killed or used in another test (McCoy 47). The LD/50 test was developed in England in 1927, by a mathematician. This test is often criticized as unreliable and cruel. The objective of this test is to measure how much of a chemical is required to cause death.
The majority of animals used in this test are dogs, rats, hamsters and guinea pigs. In just one single test, up to 200 animals may be used. Laboratory animals are force-fed toxic substances by a stomach tube. Then the animals are observed for two weeks or until death. The animals that survive are usually killed later, as if it’s nothing. Other procedures include the inhalation of a chemical or substance. Animals are forced to breathe the vapor or powder of a chemical or substance. Sometimes, these chemicals are applied to the skin of an animal.
In all these tests, observers look for signs of poisoning, bleeding from the eyes, nose, or mouth, difficulty in breathing, tremors, paralysis, and coma (McCoy 106). Toys are often needlessly tested on animals to determine their safety. To test toy guns, manufacturers point the guns in animals’ faces and see if the plastic pieces discharged hurt the animal. Substances like modeling clay are force-fed to animals to test its toxicity. Other tests involve dropping toys on animals to see if any parts hurt them. Not only are these tests cruel, they are unnecessary.
Most toy companies have new high-tech methods of testing their toys for safety without harming animals (Various Authors, 61). Animals weren’t created to entertain. Examples of this are the zoos, circuses, and rodeos. At zoos, large captive animals pace back and forth in small pens and other animals just lie around in their cages bored. Many healthy animals are snatched out of their natural habitats and brutally transferred to a cage, where they are prevented from following their most basic instincts, such as gathering food.
When capturing chimpanzees, poachers usually shoot the mother and kidnap the child. After all this, statistics show that only one in ten baby chimps survive the journey to the zoo. Zoo animals also suffer from mistreatment. They lack privacy and cannot live according to their natural needs. Aquatic animals have very little water, animals that once lived in herds are alone, and animals of all types are prevented from natural mating, flying, running, climbing, and other instinctive behaviors. Animals bred in zoos are often sold to laboratories for experiments or to circuses.
Some zoo animals end up in “wild game” parks or hunting preserves; where people pay thousands of dollars to shoot a lion or tiger at point-blank range (Various Authors, 64). Both the Draize test and LD/50 test should be banned. They are not only inaccurate, but the Humane Society of the United States stated that its results are of little value in diagnosis and treatment (McCoy, 49). The toy tests should just be completely banned because it is just plain mean and pointless. Many people don’t realize this but circuses are one of the greatest examples of people’s cruelty to animals.
Not only are circus animals taken out of their natural habitats, they are confined in cramped cages. Sometimes they have inadequate food and drinking water. When it comes to training, they endure tight collars/muzzles and are whipped, prodded to perform senseless tricks for the sake of entertainment. Some circus animals are drugged to make them more obedient, and others have their teeth and claws removed. When circus animals have outlived their usefulness, they are usually sold to zoos, private collectors, game farms, or research laboratories.
They don’t get a moment of peace, even after they are done performing (Various Authors, 65). Rodeos are basically defined as a demonstration of a person’s domination over an innocent animal, rather than their skill in riding. Rodeo animals suffer a lifetime of stress by being transported from one rodeo to another. These animals are captive performers, housed in tiny trailers and pens, then whipped into frenzy for the sake of a show. Electric prods, sticks, painful ointments, and other devices are used to enrage animals and keep them in line.
Many suffer severe bruising, neck and back injuries, internal hemorrhaging, and broken bones. Several rodeos don’t even offer veterinary care to animals, which often undergo open wounds, skin infections, cracked hooves, and other maladies (Various Authors, 66). There are various and simple preventions to help stop animal cruelty. One being PETA; one of the many organizations for animal rights. PETA is responsible for ending the use of the Draize test. Their tactics consists of organizing boycotts, promoting shareholder resolutions and alerting the general public (McCoy, 47).
Although the federal Animal Welfare Act was created, the animals being researched in laboratories receive little protection under this act because the United States Department of Agriculture does an inadequate job of inspecting animal research facilities, and an even worse job enforcing the law when violations are found. If this act is taken seriously, there would be fewer problems. There are countless alternatives to scientific research including non-animal laboratory tests, clinical tests on human beings, cell and tissue cultures in vitro; microorganisms and other species believed to have limited or no feeling for pain or suffering.
There is also a large data base of ingredients and products that have been previously tested, as well as computer models that can provide answers in research procedures or techniques. This alternative would involve fewer animals per experiment/study and that leads to less pain and discomfort (McCoy, 52). Another easy prevention is education. Respect for animals is learned, not inborn. In reality, children have complex feeling about animals, including fear, and the potential to be cruel. Children need adults’ guidance and supervision when it comes to animals.
It’s hard for children to understand because children are exposed at a young age, the stereotype of how animals are. Dogs, cats, rabbits are often portrayed as the good ones, while snakes, bears, and cheetahs are seen as the dangerous, bad guys. Despite these stereotypes, all animals are equal and should have the chance to be treated fairly. Other ways to teach children to be kind to animals are writing letters to companies that test on animals, and reading books about friendly animals (Harnack, 89).
All these preventions are straightforward and simple to follow. Animal cruelty is an ongoing problem that many people disregard in today’s society. It is mainly caused by the use, neglect, and intentional mistreatment of animals, all of which can still be prevented by stricter laws, awareness, and education. Clearly, empathy is no longer understood or experienced. It is not too late to help animals who suffer every moment of their lives in unethical experiments and abuse inflicted on by humans.