The Sad Reality of Animal Research in the United States

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.