Ending the Use of Animals

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Eliminating the Harmful Use of Animals in Education

Many colleges and universities are recognizing students’ interest in learning without harming animals and are changing their practices and policies349. For colleges and universities that wish to eliminate the harmful use of animals in education, there are resources available to help identify suitable alternatives. Numerous studies have shown that alternatives are educationally effective and promote learning and compassion in students350.

Studies show that alternatives are educationally effective and promote learning and compassion in students.Colleges and universities can also demonstrate their commitment to ending the harmful use of animals in education by working with students to pass “student choice policies” and “no random source animals policies351.” (See Appendix B on creating a Student Choice Policy, and creating a No Random Source Animals Policy.) Student choice policies secure students the right to choose an alternative to using animals, while No random source animals policies prohibit the acquisition of dogs and cats from Class B dealers, thereby ensuring that the university does not support the cruelty associated with these sources (ref. Sec. III).


Innovations in technology have increased the efficacy of alternatives to terminal or harmful animal use (See Appendix B). Comparative studies suggest that humane alternatives are superior or equal to methods involving the use of animals in terms of teaching efficacy, student learning, surgery skills, and surgery performance352,353,354,355,356. In a meta-analysis of 17 studies, results associated with methods of instruction that did not use or harm animals were either superior or the same as results from the methods requiring harmful animal use357,358,359. None of these studies indicated that the alternative to harmful animal use was inferior to the method that utilized animals360. Markedly, even somewhat unsophisticated methods demonstrated effective results when compared to methods involving harmful or terminal use of animals361. These findings support widespread implementation of alternatives to harmful animal use in undergraduate, graduate, veterinary, and medical school classrooms.

Alternatives to harmful animal use not only meet practical teaching objectives, but also help retain students who would be interested in pursuing life science degrees, but are deterred because they do not want to dissect once-living animals or conduct harmful experiments on live animals (See Appendix B.1. for a comprehensive description of alternatives). It is often difficult, for example, for a student drawn towards veterinary medicine by his or her care and compassion for animals to have to participate in a terminal surgery363, especially when humane methods are available. Alternatives also help students understand that animal suffering is not to be taken lightly.

There are many organizations and agencies that can assist college and university educators and administrators in locating effective alternatives to using dogs, cats, and other animals in order to teach. 1. The Animal Welfare Information Center The USDA established The Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) to help research institutions comply with Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations. The AWA requires that Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) receive information and documentation indicating that alternatives to procedures that may cause more than “momentary pain and distress to the animals have been considered and that activities do not duplicate previous experiments364.” This requirement includes a thorough literature search for alternatives prior to initiating such procedures365.

AWIC provides assistance with searching for alternatives.AWIC provides resources and information on peer reviewed studies to assist in locating viable alternatives; provides assistance with search terminology for conducting the most effective searches; and provides a list of viable alternatives to using animals in medical and veterinary education366. AWIC also provides training workshops at various dates and locations for members of university IACUC committees, with the goal of helping them comply with federal regulations and policies governing animal welfare367.

2. Animalearn’s The Science Bank Animalearn offers detailed solutions for undergraduate, medical, and veterinary education that would help colleges and universities to eliminate the harmful use of animals from their curriculum, without sacrificing educational quality (See Section B).

Animalearn’s The Science Bank is the largest free loan program in the country for alternatives to animal use.Many of the alternatives are available through Animalearn’s The Science Bank368, the largest free loan program in the country, providing over 450 alternatives to dissection and vivisection. Innovative alternatives available through The Science Bank include CD-ROMs, DVDs, realistic models, and interactive mannequins, many of which are available in multiple quantities for entire classrooms.

Students who are proposing the option of using an alternative to their professors and college and university administrators can borrow alternatives from The Science Bank to present and demonstrate. Faculty or students can contact Animalearn at info@animalearn.org or visit www.TheScienceBank.org for a catalogue of free alternatives to animal use. Animalearn is available to help students and faculty select the most appropriate alternatives for their class requirements.

349See infra pg. 40 (Student Choice Policies).
350A comprehensive description of alternatives available to replace the use of animals in undergraduate, veterinary, and medical education is provided in Appendix B.
351A template for establishing a student choice policy and a model for an ideal student choice policy are provided in Appendix B.
352Patronek, G.J.. “Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine client donation program.” Alternatives in Veterinary Medical Education. 11(1999): 23.
353The Humane Society of the United States. “Comparative Studies of Dissection and Other Animal Use.” 25 Jan 2009. HSUS. 19 Mar 2009. http://www.hsus.org/animals_in_research/animals_in_education/comparative_studies_of_dissection_and_other_animal_uses.html.
354VandeWoude, Sue. “Development of a Model Animal Welfare Act.” Journal of Veterinary Medical Education 34.5 (2007): 600-604.
355Carpenter, L.G., et al. “A comparison of surgical training with live anesthetized dogs and cadavers.” Veterinary Surgery 20 (1991) 373-378.
356Griffon, DJ, et al. “Evaluation of a hemostasis model for teaching ovariohysterectomy in veterinary surgery.” Veterinary Surgery 29 (2000): 309-316.
357Carpenter, L.G., et al. “A comparison of surgical training with live anesthetized dogs and cadavers.” Veterinary Surgery 20 (1991): 373-378.
358Samsel, R.W., et al. “Cardiovascular physiology teaching: Computer simulations vs. animal demonstrations.” American Journal of Physiology 266 (1994): 36-46.
359Guy, J.F.. and A.J. Frisby. “Using interactive videodiscs to teach gross anatomy to undergraduates at the Ohio State University.” Academic Medicine 67 (1992): 132-133.
360Combining different alternative methods to replace a teaching exercise involving the use of animals has the potential to further increase their effectiveness.
361Many of the available reviewed studies are greater than 10 years old, including films and videotapes, likely representing worst-case scenarios. With virtual reality technology, alternatives would likely score considerably higher in formal comparisons.
362Martinsen, S., and Nick Jukes. “Towards a Humane Veterinary Education.” Journal of Veterinary Medical Education 32 (2005): 4.
363Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights. “Comparisons of Alternatives Offered By Veterinary Schools.” Alternatives in Veterinary Medical Education Winter 2008. AVAR. 23 Feb 2009. http://avar.org/publications_newsletter.asp.
364Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC). “Workshops.” United States Department of Agriculture. 7 Aug 2008. USDA. 19 Mar 2009. http://awic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=3&tax_level=1&tax_subject=188.
366Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC). “Alternatives in Education.” United States Department of Agriculture. 7 Aug 2008. USDA. 19 Mar 2009. http://awic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=3&tax_level=2&tax_subject=183&level3_id=0&level4_id=0&level5_id=0&topic_id=1093&&placement_default=0.
367Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC). “Workshops.” United States Department of Agriculture. 7 Aug 2008. USDA. 19 Mar 2009. http://awic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=3&tax_level=1&tax
368Animalearn. www.animalearn.org.
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