Written by Jordynn Hadik
Animal Testing is a topic that nobody wants to think about. Unfortunately, the more it is ignored, the more it continues. But, however big or small, everyone can make a difference. Metro East Humane Society is a prime example of people making a difference for the animal research. It was founded as a response to Madison County Animal Control’s practice of selling animals to research laboratories.
In 1985, the Madison County Coalition Against pound seizure formed. They lobbied against this practice and were successful. In 1986, the group created what we know, today, as Metro East Humane Society. The animals of Madison County and other surrounding counties in Southwestern Illinois were very lucky to have these heroes fighting for them. Unfortunately, not all animals were quite as fortunate.
Using animals for research is, still, very prominent across the United States. Its purposes include experimentation, medical training, anatomy lessons, and testing for cosmetics, chemicals, drugs, and food. While many companies and organizations have taken a stand against the use of animals in this context, it still regularly occurs. The USDA reported that, in 2016, there was a 7% rise in animal research use.
As with most research, organizations exist to monitor the use of these animals and ensure their safety throughout the process. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was created for this purpose and is supervised by a branch of the USDA. Unfortunately, this act does not protect all animals and does contain loopholes that may not decrease animal suffering. The AWA only protects mammals but does not include protection for birds, rats, and mice.
The purpose of the AWA is to minimize suffering in the animals used for research. While it only applies to a selection of species, it does not entirely cover the animals protected. This act only minimizes suffering so long as the animals comfort does not obstruct the goals of the experiment. If a researcher deems animal suffering as a necessity to find accurate research results, the AWA no longer protects said animal.
The animals primarily used in research include many you may be aware of – mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and primates. However, other animals frequently used include dogs, cats, hamsters, and farm animals. It may be upsetting to learn that beagles are one of the most tested on breed of dogs. Beagles are known for their gentle and trusting demeanor – qualities that make them excellent pets but also make them prime targets for research laboratories.
If animal testing and research is something that bothers you, there are some steps you can take to minimize your impact on animal suffering. Every time you purchase a product, you are essentially placing a “vote” for that company. So, use your votes to support scientists who use alternative methods to experiment and test products than animal testing. When you buy shampoo, laundry detergent, toothpaste, window cleaner, and more – use that purchase to support those who use more accurate and more humane forms of testing.
When seeking “cruelty free” products – do your research. Look for the “Leaping Bunny” logo on a product’s packaging and familiarize yourself with other certified cruelty free logos. While some products may claim to be cruelty free, it may not be entirely honest. You can also visit the “Leaping Bunny” website to research companies that have promised not to test on animals.
Be wary of phrasing like “this final product was not tested on animals” or “this company does not test on animals.” Most animal testing occurs in the individual ingredients and not the final product. A company can claim they do not test on animals even if they have obtained their ingredients from outside sources that do. Sometimes, the best option is to email the company for absolute certainty. Just be sure to keep your email as specific as possible.
It is also important to research “parent companies.” Some companies may claim to be cruelty free but be owned by a larger entity that does test on animals. In addition, some companies may state they do not test on animals, but will make an exception where required by law. China requires that all products be tested on animals. So, if a company sells products in the US and does not conduct animal testing, but also sells to China and does – they are still funding animal research.
There are many resources you can use to research products, as well. You can visit “The Leaping Bunny” website and search through their database. However, just because a company is not registered with the “Leaping Bunny” organization does not necessarily remove their cruelty free status. Google the company, check their FAQ page, email them, or dig through their social media. It may seem a daunting task, at first, but give yourself grace – even if you can only commit to changing your shampoo, at this point, that is still one less purchase made to support animal testing.
Please visit these resources for more information.