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Animal Experiments

What's wrong with animal experiments?

As far back as the 2nd Century, Roman physician, Galen falsely believed that animals possessed the same physiology as humans and performed many animal experiments. However it was not until the 19th century that a market for animal experimentation was developed. Today, sadly it is big business and in Australia up to 6.5 million animals annually are used in futile and cruel experiments. Most animals are killed during or after experiments. The public is generally denied access to the facts around animal experiments in any real detail. Animal experimentation is not only cruel but also bad science and a waste of resources.

Click here to see a list of humane charities you can donate to.

Cruelty: It is common practice for animals in laboratories to be restrained and unable to move or at best, confined to small cages. In the laboratory an animal may be poisoned; deprived of food, water or sleep; applied with skin and eye irritants; subjected to psychological stress; deliberately infected with disease; irradiated; burned; gassed; force fed and electrocuted. Most suffer a slow agonizing death inside many of our well-known research institutions. Many procedures in animal experiments would result in the most serious animal cruelty convictions if conducted outside the closed doors of laboratories.

Species differences: Each species of animal differs in terms of metabolic rate, physiology, immunology, anatomy, genetics, etc. A drug tested on a non-human animal cannot be assumed to cause the same result in a human.

Missed opportunities and harm to humans: Substances that could save countless humans lives are not approved because they harm animals. Substances that are therapeutic in animals can get approved, later harming humans:

• Vioxx - the arthritis pain-killer was withdrawn in 2004, after causing 27,785 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths. Animal testing failed to predict these tragedies, which could have been reduced or prevented altogether by modern, human-based tests using DNA chips, human tissues and micro-dose studies.

• The polio vaccine – often cited by researchers as an example of the necessity of animal experiments, was long delayed due to misleading results from primate experiments.

Real scientific methods – not animal experiments:
Animal experimentation is flawed science. Real scientific methods include:

In Vitro research has been instrumental in many of the great discoveries – of antibiotics, for example and the structure of DNA, as well as all the vaccines we have today, including polio and meningitis.
Epidemiology (Studies of populations) revealed that folic acid deficiency causes birth defects, that smoking causes lung cancer and that lead damages children's brains.
Post-mortem studies are responsible for much of our modern medical knowledge - including the repair of congenital heart defects in babies.
Genetic research has clarified the role of genes in some diseases. DNA chips allow doctors to prescribe the right drug for specific patients, thus reducing serious side effects of chemotherapy, for example.
Clinical studies of patients have revealed most of our current treatments and cures – including our treatments of lazy eye and the knowledge that HIV transmission from mother to baby can be prevented.
Computer modeling is now very sophisticated, with virtual human organs and virtual metabolism programs that predict drug effects in humans far more accurately than animals tests.
Technology advances are largely responsible for today’s high standard of medical care, including MRI and PET scanners, ultrasound, laser surgery, cochlear implants, laparoscopic surgery, artificial organs and pacemakers.

How many animals?
In Australia up to 6.5 million animals per year are used including: cats, cows, dogs, birds, chickens, goats, guinea pigs, horses, koalas, lizards, mice, pigs, possums, primates, rabbits, rats, sheep, snakes, tortoises and many more.

Where do they come from?
Most animals used in experiments are purpose-bred in intensive production facilities as ‘designer animals” – often with horrific genetic diseases; some are taken from the wild and others are unwanted or lost domesticated animals including stray dogs and cats either sold or handed over to research institutions.

Who conducts these cruel experiments?
Most people would be surprised to know that animal experiments are carried out behind the closed doors of most medical charities, universities, research organizations, hospitals, government bodies (Including the military) and schools.

What are animal experiments used for?
Animals are used to test or develop almost anything from household products, cosmetics and food additives to pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, agrochemicals, pet foods, medical devices, and tobacco and alcohol products. Military experiments subject animals to the effects of poisonous gas, decompression sickness, blast wounds, burns and radiation as they assess new and existing weapons and surgical techniques ‘in the field’.

Why does it continue?
Multi-billion dollar industries including animal breeding corporations, cage and equipment manufactures and of course the pharmaceutical industry. Animal tests help them speed new drugs to market and, most significantly, give them a legal defence against public allegations of inadequate safety testing.

Tradition is so deeply ingrained that the whole system is based on it. Its fundamental acceptance has long allowed it to escape attention.

Researchers are far removed from patient care and may believe that by experimenting on animals they are helping to cure human diseases. Also, they attract grant money based on how many papers they publish in the scientific literature.

Vested interests: Generally those who promote animal experimentation are in a position of financial gain from the continuation of the practice.

Alternatives to classroom animal dissection
Australian Association for Humane Research run a Humane Education Loan Program (HELP). The Humane Education Loan Program (HELP) is a free loan program to provide students and educators with up to date alternatives to classroom animal dissection and animal experimentation. For more information AAHR's HELP page. You can also visit their 'Say no to dissection' page here

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Get involved today. You can make a difference.

A. Become an ALV supporter and join our animal experiment campaign. And you can donate to ALV so support this important work.

B. Don’t purchase animal tested products. This includes dishwashing detergents, laundry detergents, household cleaners, soaps, shampoo, hair products, toothpaste and other personal care products and garden products. Check the label to be sure it is cruelty free - it should specifically say so. There are so many companies that either directly or indirectly use animal experiments to test their products that it is easier to list those that don't. For a current list visit Choose Cruelty Free or contact ALV to receive a free print copy in the post.

C. Only donate to humane research charities. Most medical charities promoted in the media contribute to animal testing and enormous suffering. For a list of charities that don't contribute to the pain and suffering of animals please visit Humane Charities and PCRM.

D. Learn more about animal experiments happening daily in our community. Ask ALV for resources

E. If your workplace abuses animals contact ALV. Help us expose the cruelty

F. Write letters to local papers and politicians. Help us keep this issue in the public eye. Contact the ALV Writers Group for topics or wording suggestions.

G. Boycott dissections at universities and schools.

H. Start an interest group at your university or school

More and more people including doctors and scientists are speaking out against using animals as models for human research.

 
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