Letter: Animals deserve our respect

Biomedical research at Yale University is a costly endeavor and not simply in financial terms (“Medical School sees spike in NIH grants” Sept. 4). More than 150,000 animals — from fish to mice to monkeys — are confined throughout the city of New Haven in Yale’s laboratories. The physical torment that these animals are forced to endure in painful experiments is coupled with profound psychological trauma from being subjected to lives of deprivation, loneliness and fear in barren and often socially isolated conditions.

Through scientific study we have learned so much about both the world we inhabit and the animals we share it with. It is unfortunate, if not shameful, that despite the overwhelming scientific evidence indicating that animals suffer in ways similar to humans, those among us who we credit with being the most intelligent continue to defy science and ethics by abusing animals to fulfill even trivial curiosities in the laboratory. It is time we act on the scientific knowledge that we already firmly possess. Non-human animals have lives of their own, and they deserve to be treated with respect.

Ian Smith
Sept. 8
The writer is a research associate for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Comments

  • SY

    “…profound psychological trauma from being subjected to lives of deprivation, loneliness and fear in barren and often socially isolated conditions….”

    Yale Animal Resources Center takes very seriously the welfare of laboratory animals in use in the medical center. Having worked at other universities (that shall remain anonymous), I have been impressed by the strict rules and my colleagues’ adherence to them. If you personally know of violations of federal husbandry laws, then specifically address them. Unless you can quote a reputable study, projecting that animals are ‘depressed’ from living ‘lonely’ and ‘barren’ lives is pretty silly, considering they’ve never known and will never miss life outside the laboratory.
    http://info.med.yale.edu/yarc/regulatory.htm

  • grad student

    “…despite the overwhelming scientific evidence indicating that animals suffer in ways similar to humans…”

    Setting aside the blatant equivocation on “animals” (are we to believe that acoels and apes are equally psychologically similar to humans?), the evidence is dubious even in the most compelling cases. It is not at all clear that pain and other forms of discomfort play the same complex role in the mental life of other mammals as they do in ours. And even if they did, that would still not imply, in the absence of further strong philosophical assumptions, that they have the same moral status.

  • IanErikSmith

    SY –

    Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science published a study in 2004 titled
    “Laboratory Routines Cause Animals Stress”. The full text of the article can be easily found via Google Scholar.

    In short, after reviewing eightly previously published studies, the authors conclude that “significant fear, stress, and possibly distress are predictable consequences of routine laboratory procedures”.

    Note that animals experience these negative consequences from routine laboratory procedures such as animal handling; the article does not attempt to assess the even greater harm done to animals by the experiments themselves in which animals may be cut up, mutilated, burned, starved, poisoned, and/or killed.

  • John

    Sadly, groups like Peta use the issue of animal experiments to get donations from the public.Since NEW evidence shows the fraud of using animals based on science only then Peta should be funding speakers to travel the country to prove how animal research harms humans. To date 19 Yale researchers that I have contacted REFUSE to participate in educational debates. Why? In the field of science the burden of proof falls on the person performing a test, procedure, or experiment to show some sort of predictive value. Wisely, they avoid these discussions thus feeling no obligation to our tax dollars which fund them. Both Peta and Yale are wrong due to the primary issue being financial: http://www.curedisease.com.

  • SY

    Dear Ian,

    The study you cited is a review of 80 studies, half of which took place before 1990. That’s also at least 80 different researchers, 80 different procedures, 80 different ways of handling the animals that make the results hard to compare across the board.

    I am especially wary of the studies that measure hormone levels in the blood to indicate stress. In order to collect this blood, the animals must be handled and sacrificed… probably a pretty stressful event that will skew data. I’m not sure how they managed to have experimental controls for this kind of study; the methods I have read from some of these studies are somewhat dubious.

    Also, I would be curious to find out how to determine what are normal levels of these hormones and at what point they can be defined as painful or harmful. After all, stress, for us as students, is necessary and always present in our lives.

    There is no doubt that laboratory animals should be treated with kindness and that we should avoid causing them obvious pain or harm. I am glad to see you are taking action to voice concern for their well-beings; just make sure you back up claims with sound evidence to avoid a histrionic tone.

    SY

  • curious

    I am curious, do the people opposed to animal testing still take drugs for illness (all of which were made with the help of animal research)?

  • ROFLCOPTER

    Why do animals deserve our respect? This seems like a big assumption to make.

    They certainly don’t respect us.

  • PhD Student

    Although I do not agree with PETA on all issues, animal testing is a topic worthy of discussion, particularly within the medical research community.

    I am personally opposed to any research conducted on non-consenting living beings, from fruit flies to non-human primates. I have chosen to plan and conduct my research such that I perform no animal testing, and any necessary in-vivo results are obtained through consenting (public) human studies and/or clinical studies.

    The issue of past results (to somewhat address curious’ question) is quite simple. There is nothing one can do to change the methods of the past, and with them, the results we enjoy today (such as pharmaceutical drugs). It is, however, a conscientious choice to continue testing on animals today. Whether or not, those opposed to animal testing take drugs is irrelevant; their choice in *not* testing on animals in their own work, or using future products tested on animals is the choice they face today.

    I have been lucky to find the opportunity within my research to oppose animal testing, and am glad to see the Yale Daily publishing a letter from PETA. Regardless of how ‘good’ YARC may consider itself regarding its operations, I hope that the medical research community will gradually adjust its views on animal testing, and that the people at YARC will consider other humane and morally unquestionable jobs in animal sheltering, and wildlife preservation.

  • old student

    It’s not so much the subject’s mental complexity, the question is, do they suffer?

  • ;)

    Ian,

    Interesting point you bring up.

    Rebuttal: for every animal you don’t eat, I pledge to eat three!

  • Helen

    The facts of this issue are very simple which is why it is strangely complex to profit and agenda-driven people on both sides. Simple math reveals that for every 5100 drugs which successfully PASS animal-testing only ONE of them(by random chance)happens to make it to human patients, yielding an animal’s bio-metabolic system(“research”) an illogical FAILURE rate of 99.99%!!! Even more shocking is looking at medical history’s actual human disease cures and safe treatments coming from drugs that virtually always FAILED animal experiments! Simple arithmatic shows that these delays, dead-ends, and false-positives caused by misplaced faith in the “animal-model” has killed tens of millions of people! Our nation’s 4th leading cause of death today is by prescription drugs “perfected” by animal tests. For those lucky enough not to die: 1 in every 7 hospital beds are filled by other adverse reactions! On average, identical human twins have between 500,000-750,000 gene expression variants(differences). There are recorded cases where one twin has died of another’s medication,(Susan Knickobocker and her sister).Strangely it is STILL true that what John above says is factual in how these animal researchers avoid public scientific efficacy and validity meetings even when the topic of animal ethics is totally avoided! The YDN’s editors should conduct an experiment and contact all of Yale’s animal-modeled researchers and see for themselves how they will shun presenting the rationale of their work in a public discussion forum against the world’s top expert(Dr. Ray Greek of http://www.curedisease.com)for basic scientific validation. This refusal shows a lack of heart-felt obligation to taxpayers, suffering medical patients, and science itself.

  • Ciarrai

    Hey ;)
    O, man of great stupidity. You’ll eat 3 animals to Ian’s none. What a foolish choice you have made. Enjoy your young years, because later on you may have to go to the cardiologist or some other doctor on account of all that meat that has caused you such havoc with your innards. Mark well my words, young ;). One more thing: my belief in the existence of a Supreme Being has weakened. However, I hold out hope that one does exist so that all of you who cause pain, suffering, fear and death to animals will someday face the Maker of all of us and have to take your punishment. You know who you are and the lame and errant excuses you use may not be deemed blameless on Judgement Day. I know this will be thought of as terribly childish, but think about how you treat animals. There may be a surprise waiting for you on the other side.

  • ;)

    Ciarrai

    Your profound and absolute ignorance about human nutrition makes me sad in pants.

    Also, lolWUT @ “but think about how you treat animals. There may be a surprise waiting for you on the other side.”

    …GHOST DOGS??!!!!!

  • Ciarrai

    Denial is not a river in Egypt, O smug man of great stupidity and ego. The foods that derive from animals are killing us. But, don’t believe me. Look it up! As far as that surprise that may await you: how do you know that the Supreme Being is not pissed off about the way we have treated animals here on earth? That’s right. You don’t know. You know what we all know: not much. Get over it, ;). And get a real name. How about Stupid?

  • bacon!

    The NYTimes reported today:

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gertrude Baines, who lived to be the world’s oldest known living person on a steady diet of crispy bacon, fried chicken and ice cream, died here Friday. She was 115.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/12/us/12baines.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=115&st=cse

  • Omnivore

    I do not support animal testing. The results are flawed in that animals are not human and therefore cannot possibly exhibit the exact same symptoms as humans can. Just take a look at the drugs that have been recalled due to some side effect being unknown or underestimated.

    Meanwhile, @ Ciarrai – Humans are omnivores. If you prever to be an herbivore, then keep it to yourself and stop being so self-righteous.

  • Cyberwoman

    It is shocking to see the number of posts here justifying animal experiementation by intellectualizing it.
    It is also surprising to see the number of logical fallacies used by posters.
    #2 – Appeal to ignorance
    #6 – Missing the point
    #7 – Tu Quoque
    Do they not teach Philosophy at Yale?

  • No whitewash

    I hope #17 is not affiliated with Yale. Nearly all have agreed that animal experimentation is justified in most cases. Without them, the option would be to live in ignorance, suffer and die without knowing, or to experiment on other humans. There is no room for discussion on this matter.