Animals have been used in medical research for centuries. Most of the animals used for research are rodents - rats, mice, hamsters and gerbils. Some dogs, cats and a variety of goats, ferrets, pigeons, monkeys and rabbits are also used. The struggle against this tyranny is a struggle as important as any of the moral and social issues that have been fought over in recent years. Animal rights are an emotional issue-second only, perhaps, to the bitter abortion debate." For decades the value of animal research has been grossly overrated. Although researchers have depended on animal test data to achieve medical advances, there should be other means of research because testing on animals is cruel, inhumane, and often unnecessary.
The American Medical Association believes that research involving animals is absolutely essential to maintaining and improving the health human beings. They point out, that virtually every advance in medical science in the 20th century, from antibiotics to organ transplants, has been achieved either directly or indirectly through the use of animals in laboratory experiments. They also emphasize that animal research holds the key for solutions to AIDS, cancer, heart disease, aging and congenital defects. Lastly they insist that, the result of these experiments has been the elimination or control of many infectious diseases. This has meant a longer, healthier, better life with much less pain and suffering for humans. For many patients, it has meant life it self.
However, there should be other means of research because the whole process of animal research remains cruel and inhumane. Animal rights activists have gathered a large amount of information that has closed down many laboratories that violate anti-cruelty statutes. In the past, research labs have had to be subsequently suspended due to animal cruelty. Reports involving horrifyingly painful experiments on monkeys and the filthy laboratories the animals must live in. Animals limited to living in tiny metal cages in which they can barely move. From the capture of primates in the wild, to the "factory-like" breeding of mice and dogs, to the confinement and isolation of cages - research is inherently cruel.
Animal research is often unnecessary, history has shown that many important medical advances have been made by clinical research and close observations of human patients, not animals. There are countries that don't use healthy animals to train veterinarians or teach surgical techniques. In England they use only sick or injured animals and do most of their work on animal cadavers. Humans can give informed consent. Monkeys and dogs can't. Many AIDS patients have said they are willing to try out new drugs so why not let them. In most cases the drugs will need to be tested on humans before the FDA will approve them anyway and it is a known fact that not all drugs work the same on humans as they do on animals.
Most of what we do to animals we would never do to people. We understand that people have certain rights that keep them from being experimented on by other people. What we don't realize is that it is impossible to justify rights for humans, who are a type of animal, and deny rights to non-human animals. Animals have a right to life just as humans have a right to life. Human morality must expand to acknowledge and respect the rights of non-human animals.