While you’re reading this in the comfort of your home or maybe —if you’re not under lockdown—at a cozy coffee shop somewhere, more than 115 million animals are enduring unspeakable pain and suffering in laboratories around the world.
They’ve never known freedom or what it means to be loved and cared for. They’ve never set foot outside.
These are sentient beings with vibrant personalities, rich social lives and a strong aversion to pain. And yet, to humans they’re nothing more than lab appartus. An expendable means to an end.
Take the hidden lives of mice and rats, for example. They care deeply for their offspring and forge strong social bonds within their groups. But, along with birds, other rodents, and coldblooded animals, they’re not protected under the Animal Welfare Act.
Who came to that mind-blowing conclusion?
Animal Testing is Bad Science
It’s 2020. You’d think by now we’d have put these archaic ways behind us. Sadly, we haven’t. It’s not like we don’t have alternatives. And besides, animal testing has proven time and again to produce flawed results.
A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) concluded that along with being unreliable, animal experimentation also poses a harm to humans.
Yet still we persist.
There are numerous cases where animal test results failed to predict dangers. In one instance, a drug that showed no ill effects on mice, rats and monkeys resulted in death and brain damage when given to human volunteers.
If you’re still not convinced, Peta.org compiled an in-depth list of common statements supporting animal experimentation followed by the arguments against them. However you look at it, animal testing is bad science.
On a more positive note, the FDA and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) both agree that when it comes to COVID-19, we can’t waste time on animal tests.
“Last month, for the first time in history, both the FDA and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) greenlighted a landmark human clinical trial of a vaccine without first requiring extensive animal tests.” [Source: Peta.org]
Perhaps they’ll finally recognise animal testing for what it is: a cruel and unnecessary barrier to “getting quick, safe, and effective medicines and vaccines for humans onto the market.”
Let’s hope Peta.org is successful in their bid to get the FDA to stop requiring cruel, wasteful animal tests for all drugs—not just treatments for COVID-19.
We Need to Change the ‘Empty Laws’ that Currently Protect Lab Animals
While there’s a small glimmer of hope that things will change for the better in the future, we need to remember that for the research animals still behind bars, the suffering is far from over. They need our help more than ever.
[Watch] Empty Laws: A Short Film
By exposing the unnecessary suffering that takes place behind locked laboratory doors, the film captures what is wrong with already weak regulatory standards. It’s not an easy watch—these types of documentaries never are—but don’t let that be an excuse to shy away from it.
The only way to fix a broken system is by facing it head on. Knowing something intellectually isn’t enough, we need to get it at a gut level to fully grasp the need for change.
“By definition, the life of a research animal is a life of trauma. If maintaining not only the physical, but also the psychological wellbeing of primates in labs cannot be done, then their use in labs must simply end.” —Kelly Guerin, Empty Laws Director
5 Ways You Can Help Lab Animals
Animal research has to stop, and it’s up to us as individuals to make that happen. We can take a stand, we can petition and protest, we can vote with our pocketbooks. We can be the voice for the voiceless.
1. Help Spread the Word
The easiest way is to make a difference is to spread the word on social media. Talk about it to your friends, family and colleagues. Encourage them to shop responsibly by supporting cruelty-free brands. The more we put it out there, the better our chances of putting an end to this abhorrent practice.
Share Empty Laws on social media. Encourage everyone you know to do the same and tell them why it’s important. Oftentimes, it’s ignorance that leads us to make poor choices, such as buying products that are tested on animals.
2. Take Action Against Animal Testing
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is dedicated to saving and improving human and animal lives through plant-based diets and ethical and effective scientific research.
Visit their website to find out how you can help by donating or taking action to end animal use. Along with highlighting current issues, they also offer a wealth of information about the alternatives to animal testing.
3. Have Your Say
By filling out this form online you can put pressure on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) not to weaken existing requirements for researchers seeking to use animals in research. This simple act can make a big difference to the countless lab animals suffering in the name of science.
Join the call for governments to prioritise and support advanced methods, more relevant to humans, to accelerate the development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Find out more and sign and share World Day for Laboratory Animals’ new petition today.
If you live in the U.K., ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion #2228: Developing Innovative Science – Better for Animals. You can find a template letter at Animal Defenders International.
In the US and Canada, you can help put an end to animal testing for cosmetics and the sale of animal-tested products by asking your legislator to support the US Humane Cosmetics Act.
You could also petition brands directly if you know they test their products on animals. Care2.com has enjoyed many wins with this method. Their Start a Petition page has all the information you need to make your cause heard.
4. Choose Cruelty-Free Products
Taking action and spreading the word are important, but there’s something else you can do every single day that will have a big impact. Choose to support only those brands that sport the Leaping Bunny Logo.
It’s easy enough to spot on the packaging, but you can also search by company or brand name as well as browse by product category on the Cruelty Free International website. Every dollar spent with a like-minded company is a vote against animal testing.
Helpfully, the guys at Freedom Rescue Project have put together a PDF that highlights brands that test on animals as well as one showcasing brands that do not test on animals. There’s even app you can download to help on your mission.
Cruelty-Cutter is makes cruelty-free shopping simple. If you’re not sure about an item you’re thinking of buying, a quick scan of it will yield an immediate response about its animal testing status.
It may seem like too much of a problem to overcome alone, but there is actually a lot we can each do to make a difference.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead
A film like Empty Laws highlights the importance of making ethically sound choices. Because it’s only when demand for products that are tested on animals diminishes that companies will stop making them.
Choosing cruelty-free products is one of the easiest ways you can make a difference to the lab animals. It’s also better for your health and the environment. Think of it as a win/win/win.
And you know how much we love those.
5. Support Animal Welfare Groups
Animal welfare groups like NEAVS and We Animals work tirelessly to ensure all animals are protected and free from harm. There are also plenty of awesome rescue groups, such as New Life Animal Sanctuary and The Beagle Freedom Project, helping lab animals live out the remainder of their lives in a safe and loving environment.
Organizations the world over are doing what they can to make a difference, and it’s incumbent upon all of us to support their efforts in whatever way we can. Whether that’s by donating to their cause or spreading word of their efforts, every bit helps.
Here’s Why We Need to Stop Animal Testing
There are lots of other ways to make a difference, such as helping research animals get adopted and donating to organizations that are fighting to put an end to animal testing.
Since its inception 40 years ago, World Day For Laboratory Animals (April 24) has resulted in one million fewer tests on animals. A lot of lab animals have also been saved. Take a look at these video clips to see why it’s so important to support a cruelty-free world.
[Watch] Rescued Rabbits Take First Steps of Freedom
[Watch] Animals Freed From Lab Testing
[Watch] Laboratory Chimpanzee Released to Sanctuary
[Watch] Former Lab Animals See Sunshine for the First Time
[Watch] Animals Taste Freedom for the Very First Time
Our planet is facing enormous challenges right now: climate change, poverty, food and water security and, of course, COVID-19. All of them seem impossible to tackle, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
Right now, people all over the world are making a difference in big and small ways. Every effort adds up. As the Danish journalist Jacob Riis reminds us, a stonecutter never splits the rock on the first blow. But if he hammers away long enough, it will eventually give.
Ultimately, animal testing is bad science. It doesn’t work. If we all help spread the word in an informative and non-antagonistic way, we can eventually put an end to this barbaric and outdated practice.
“Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are like us.’ Ask the experimenters why it is morally OK to experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are not like us.’ Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.” —Professor Charles R. Magel
Just like humane meat, happy lab animals are a story we tell ourselves to feel better about our actions. As Peta.org rightly says, animals aren’t ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.
It’s time to wake up and realise that all lives matter.