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Animal Testing


You’re with your mom at the park on a weekend, roaming around to enjoy the nice weather. Your mom ruffles your hair and tells you to stay put while she leaves momentarily. Being the good child you are, you oblige and wait patiently for your mother to return, ripping grass from the dirt in the meantime.


She never comes.


But someone else does.


A stranger — no — a creature you have never seen before. Massive, grotesque, and spindly, with skin hanging loosely over its bony arms but pulled tightly over its angled face. Its eyes are wide and unnaturally blue, its teeth unnaturally white and oddly shaped. Two long fingers pick you up by your hair and you scream, your scalp burning as the creature tugs at your hair. It roughly tosses you into a metal box with bars as walls, too close together for escape. You hear the creatures chatter in a language you’ve never heard before as they put your box in a strange vehicle and lock you in a compartment in the back. The ground begins to tremble and your small body is violently thrown around the box you’re in, slamming you against the walls of your enclosure. This goes on for hours before the ground finally stops shaking and the compartment you are placed in opens, light flooding the dark space.


The creatures carry your box as you cower in the corner, trying to stay as far away from them as possible. They enter a building so stark white it burns your eyes, the smell of chemicals stinging your nose. Somewhere in the facility you hear noises, horrible howls of pain from a voice all too familiar.


Mom.


You try to call out to her, to tell her that you’re here and that you’re okay, but, of course, she can’t hear you. Frantically, you scan the area hoping to find her, and you do. Slumped on a table, she is naked, shaking, and visibly in pain. Restraints pin down her extremities to a table and a creature looms over her, holding a thin glass tube with liquid encased inside. Using his large hand to hold her head in place, he lowers the tube to her face as short, sharp shrieks escape her lips, her body thrashing against the restraints. A drop of the liquid falls from the tube into your mother's eye. She screams again, louder this time.


Despair blooms in your chest as the creatures carry you into another room, the sounds of your mother's agony fading the farther you go. The creature’s large hand scoops you up, rips off your clothes, and throws you onto a metal table that’s cold to the touch. Before you have the chance to run away, the creatures hold you down face down against the icy table. Panic floods your nerves and you flail under the weight of their hands, kicking and scratching at their weird white clothing and fleshy hands, but to no avail. You can’t escape.


Pain erupts from your spinal area, causing the corners of your vision to go dark. They let go, but you can’t bring yourself to move. Everything hurts too greatly for you to run away. It doesn’t matter anyway. The creatures clamp something around your neck and force you to walk over to a contraption with forever-moving floors. They place you in the contraption, the leash on your neck forcing you to stay on it, and the moving floors forcing you to keep walking despite the sharp pain stabbing you throughout your body. You are stuck, being forced to walk no matter how unbearable the pain gets, no matter how loud you cry and beg.


Finally, after an excruciatingly long time, the floors stop moving and the creatures put you back in your box. Around you, more people are being put through cruel experiments, their screams echoing across the maddening white walls of your prison. Across from you, you see your mother. Her skin is raw and red, her hair is thin and falling out in chunks, and her eyes are no longer usable. She calls your name, but she cannot see you. You are both in the boxes with barred walls, but too far away to come in contact. Now more than ever, you want to cuddle up to her and feel her warmth and love, but you cannot. All you can do is stare at her across the room in neverending pain as you wait for this hell to end.


 


As morbid as that story is, it is unfortunately the life of thousands of animals being used in testing. These animals include monkeys, baboons, cats, dogs, cows, ferrets, fish, frogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, horses, llamas, mice, owls, pigs, sheep, rabbits, and rats. There are various tests done on these animals. The example in the story above is what is done to cats, where their spinal cords are broken or damaged and they are forced to run on treadmills in order to study how nerve activity can affect movement in humans. Some other examples are:


  • Chemical exposure via force-feeding, inhalation, skin contact, or injection to test toxicity

  • Exposures to illnesses, drugs, or chemicals to purposely make the animal ill or in pain

  • Purposeful inflictions of wounds to study healing/physiology/treatment

  • Studying how stress affects human behavior by placing the animal in stressful situations such as removing a baby from its mother, electric shocks, and forced swimming

  • Creating “animal versions” of human ailments like cancer or depression

  • Removal or damage of their bodily organs

  • Feeding chemicals to pregnant animals such as rabbits to see how the offspring are affected

  • Putting in pressure chambers to study their responses

  • Killing with asphyxiation, neck-snapping, decapitation, etc.

Keep in mind that more often than not, these animals do not receive any pain medications or after-treatment for these experiments. Once the experiment is over, the animal is then killed.



Regulations

While the Animal Welfare Act is in place to protect certain animals, its rules are shaky and very minimal. They protect animals like dogs and monkeys, but exclude other animals like rats, birds, and fish. They also don’t include animals specifically bred for testing purposes, meaning that a dog bred for the purpose of animal testing does not count as an “animal” and can be used for tests. Europe banned capturing monkeys from the wild to use for testing, but other countries have not. Farm animals can be supplied by dealers from stables and farms.


Alternatives

There are alternatives to animal testing, and these alternatives are actually much more accurate, and often cheaper than animal testing. Ninety percent of drugs tested on animals ultimately fail when given to a human since animals are different from humans and therefore react differently. Animal testing can also be time-consuming and costly, and there are many illnesses that animals cannot contract but humans can. Alternatives to animal testing include 3D chips made from human cells that replicate mini-human organs, computer models that can predict how drugs or chemicals might affect humans, testing on human cells, and 3D-printed tissues. These alternatives can more accurately represent how the human body would respond to these drugs or treatments, and they would be much more humane.


If we have alternatives, why do we still use animals?

While most experiments are not required by law to be performed, a lot of government agencies prefer and even require some animal experiments to test the safety of certain products. The Food and Drug Administration will not approve any drugs that were not tested on animals. The Environmental Protection Agency says that a pesticide must be fed to a dog for 90 days in order for it to be approved.


What can you do?

The easiest way to help animals in testing is to not support the companies that do animal testing. Chemical, pesticide, drug, and makeup companies use animals to test how safe their products are for humans, as well as universities, government facilities, and hospitals. Of course, not every one of them uses animal testing, there are plenty of brands and companies that don’t. One of the more popular makeup brands that are cruelty-free is Rare Beauty, so not only is their make-up amazing, but they’re also completely ethical! There’s a plethora of others as well, so the lists will be linked down below. You can also do research on brands and products that you like and avidly use to ensure that they are also cruelty-free.


Links to cruelty-free brands:


 

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Author: Ina Sabarre


Editor: Charlotte Wang


References

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