You Are At: AllSands Home > Science > Animals > History of animal testing
It is estimated that the ancestors of our modern pets were first domesticated around 10,000-2500 B.C. (Sherry, 43-44) Since this time, the role of animals in the daily life of their human companions has been uncertain. From the worship of cats in ancient Egypt to the devotion of cattle in modern day India, our animal friends have always had a place in our history. In their role lies the very controversial issue of animal testing. Are animals required to fill this role in our lives? On the labels of numerous products, such as oven cleaner, hydrogen peroxide, and bleach, is written do not get this product in the eye, mouth, or other mucous membranes. These statements were developed after tests on lab animals showed the product may cause damage to these areas. The issue of testing on animals has become a heated debate in our society. Therefore we need information on which to base our opinion. In the paragraphs to come, I will play a devils advocate on this issue. I will expose the art of vivisection, by discussing the good side and the bad side of the issue.
Vivisection is the action of cutting into or dissecting a living body, and the practice of subjecting living animals to cutting operations, especially in order to advance physiological and pathological knowledge. (Webster, 878) Vivisection can be found through out our society. In the classroom, young people take part in dissection of frogs, bugs, worms, and other slimy creatures, in order to gain understanding of the particular body systems. Vivisection is used in some cases to understand the cause of death of an individual. Scientists use vivisection to gain understanding as to the cause and treatment of many common ailments. Vivisection is not the only test performed and other common tests will be discussed as well.
Over the last century, the benefits of animal testing has become known. We have gained insight, through animal testing, into numerous biological dangers which posed a major threat to the welfare of the citizens of the world. In 1817, Russian Zoologist Christian Pander discovers there are three step in the development of embryos. This lead to same discovery in human embryos. In 1881, Louis Pasteur uses chickens in trial studies of his smallpox disease. (Sherry, 43-54) This vaccine saved the lives of thousands of people and was declared extinct in 1980. (Clayman, 918) In 1912, French surgeon Alexis Carrel used dogs to study rejoining severed nerves. This was the first step in organ transplantation. This is another breakthrough which has saved numerous lives since that time. In 1924, the electrocardiograph was developed by Dutch physiologist Willem Einthoven. The procedure is also widely used today and was perfected on dogs. The vaccine for polio was first injected in to mice and then into monkeys before it was finally used to eradicate the disease in humans. (Sherry, 43-54). Scientists have learned how the brain works through their studies on lab rats. We have also learned which areas of the brain control which body processes. Tests on humans and animals have lead to discovers about how injuries to various parts of the brain will affect the body. These findings have been useful in the treatment of various brain injuries. Have these medical advances been great enough to forget about the techniques used in the laboratory procedures?
In the last two decades, it has become common to see shampoos and other beauty products with the phrase: "This product contains no animal extracts and has never been tested on animals." In the past, animal testing was a common stop most products had to pass before being available for human use. The Draize eye test was often used to test for the effect of the particular product on a rabbit's eye. In this test, over a seven day period, common household items, such as bleach, cleansers, and shampoos, are applied into the eyes of the conscious rabbit. The rabbits eye lids are kept apart with metal clips and these test often cause irreparable damage to the rabbit's eye; which include ulcerated eyelids and bleeding. After the testing is finished, the rabbits are killed in order to determine the internal effects of the substances. (Product, 1) The inhalation test is widely used to measure the effects of inhalant substances on the body. "Rapid Smoking"is a inhalation test which measures the effects of smoking. The animals used in this procedure, often dogs and rats, are forced to inhale massive amounts of cigarette smoke. The amount inhaled often lethal and is almost always more than the average person would inhale while smoking. Inhalation tests are also used to measure the effect of other inhalants, such as oven cleaner. The animals in these studies often have lung damage, breathing difficulties and often get cancer. (Weil, 73) A final test performed on animals is the skin test. During this test, the skin on a particular part of animal is removed by plucking or shaving. Then a chemical substance is place on the skin and held in place with tape. When the tape is removed, the amount of damage is examined. The damage includes bleeding, ulceration and severe burning. These tests are only a short list of the many tests performed currently or in the past, which involve animals. These tests have allowed researchers to gain a better understanding of what might happen in the human body. Tests on humans are performed as a follow up to these results.
The benefits of animal testing have been listed. Do these benefits outweigh the negative aspects of the testing?. The studies listed above will be used to present the negative side as well. In the case of the Draize eye test and skin test, the animals used often suffer excruciating pain Unfortunately, the animals rarely get medication to relieve the pain they endure. Once the testing is performed, are the results that beneficial?
This is a tough question. In cases, such as the electrocardiograph and the smallpox vaccine, the studies have lead to procedures which have saved the lives of millions of people. If we had not perfected these procedures on animals, they may have never come about unless the testing was performed on humans. How accurate is the testing? Research finding can be dependant upon the source or the research funding. The article "A Critical Look at Animal Research" states vivisection is easily published. In the "publish or perish" world of academic science, it requires little originality or insight to take an already well- defined animal model, change a variable (or the species being used), and obtain "new" and "interesting" finding within a short period of time. In contrast, clinical research (while much more useful) is often more difficult and time-consuming. (15-16) Also, the many species of available and the nearly infinite possible manipulations offer researchers the opportunity to "prove" almost any theory that serves their economic, professional, or political needs. For example, researchers have "proven" in animals that cigarettes both do and do not cause cancer-- depending on the funding source. (A Critical, 16) While waiting for the testing procedures, many animals are forced to live in cramped quarters and sleep in their own waste with minimal food and water provided. Most animal rights groups are appalled by this treatment and have asked for nicer environments for animals used in testing. With the assistance of various animal rights agencies, the process of animal testing has improved in the last fifty years. Agencies such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) (Nelkin, ix); have fought hard to improve the conditions associated with the tests The con side of cruel and unusual testing procedures, lack of concern for the animals well being, and immoral treatment of the animals, has been presented.
There have been various Acts of Congress which have helped to improve the conditions lab animals endure. Some critics believe these advances have not been enough. In 1992, Congress passed the U.S. Animal Welfare Act into law. (A Critical, 16) This act limits testing to common laboratory animals and prohibits testing on common pets such as cats, dogs, and birds. The issue of animal testing will be an issue on conflict for many years. If all animal testing is stopped, then who will the test be performed on? Humans? If this is the case, how many people will volunteer for the tests to be performed on them? Some people responded we should perform the tests on death row inmates. I disagree, there are cases in which these individuals are found innocent after a few years. I feel that animal testing is a necessary evil in our society. If all the animal testing is stopped then we will lose a lot of possible research in the future. Are we willing to take the loss of a possible cure to cancers or AIDS or Ebola?
As I wrote this paper, I realized how torn I was on this issue. I do not agree with the testing procedures used; but see it as a necessary evil. I have presented both side of the issue. The good side of medical and physiological advances as a result of testing. The bad side of inhumane testing procedures, treatment, and living conditions. I feel it is up to each individual to decide upon this issue for themselves about this issue. With the information presented in this paper, the choice will at least be an informed choice.

Works Cited

Clayman, M.D., Charles B.(editor) "Smallpox" The
American Medical Association Home Medical
Encyclopedia Random House: New York, 1989.
Cohen, M.D., Murry J., Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.,
Rhonda Ruttenburg, M.D., Alix Fano, M.A., A
Critical Look at Animal Testing. Medical
Research Modernization Committee: New York,
1998.
Nelkin, Dorothy and James M. Jasper. The Animal
Rights Crusade: The Growth of Moral Protest.
The Free Press: New York, 1992.
"Product Testing." www.navs.org/product.htm
Sherry, Clifford J. Animal Rights. Contemporary
World Issues: Santa Barbara, CA, 1994.
Webster's Universal Collegiate Dictionary. New
York: Gramercy Book, 1997.
Weil, Zoe. Animals In Society: Facts and
Perspectives On Our Treatment Of
Animals.Animalearn: Jenkintown, PA, 1991.