Have you or someone close to you ever have an organ transplant? Diabetes? Needed antibiotics to clear up an infection or disease? Who should you be
thanking for these modern medical advances? Doctors? Sure. Scientists? Sure. Most of all you should be thanking our furry friends. Most of the major
medical advances of the 20th century couldn't have come about without animal testing. The life expectancy of humans has been raised approx. 20.8
years because biomedical research involving animals. Here's a brief list of some of the animals you should give a hug to and say thank you as well as
some of their contributions in research:
Pig- organ transplants, skin graphs, medicine that is administered through skin absorption (Nicoderm patch, birth control, etc.)
Horses- tetanus shot and measuring blood pressure
Cow- smallpox vaccine and pathogenesis of tuberculosis
Dog- rabies vaccine, mechanisms of immunity, and joint replacements
Rabbit- Rabies vaccine and mechanisms of immunity
Cat- anticoagulants and treatments for eye disorders
Sheep- Anthrax vaccine and birth defects
Armadillo- treatments for leprosy
Mouse- penicillin, gene transfer for cystic fibrosis, and pathogenesis of Typhus
Guinea pig- tetanus shot, vitamin deficiencies, and the testing of lithium
Rat- understanding diabetes and treatments for arthritis
Primates- understanding Rh factor, polio vaccine, rubella vaccine, and promising drugs for the prevention of AIDS
There are some myths about animal research that I would like to clear up and this will probably lead to several posts. For now though,
I'm going to help bust five myths. They are as follows:
Myth #1- Computer models and cell cultures can replace animal testing.
Truth- Animal models provide an invaluable and irreplacable insight into the human systems. This is because certain animals have similiar genetic/or
physiological systems. Even the most sophisticated technology models can not mimic the interactions that occur in a living model. There is NO complete
alternative to animal research.
Myth #2- Only humans benefit from animal testing.
Truth- Humans and animals benefit from animal testing. Your pet receives vaccines, de-wormers, surgeries, and other diseases that can be treated with
modern medicine. Would you volunteer your pet to be the first to receive a new vaccine that did not have prior testing- not knowing the possible side
effects? Do you like living with fleas? How about heartworms? Would you let your dog die of heartworms, instead of receiving treatment?
Myth #3- Laboratories steal people's pets for research.
Truth- Most animals in research are specifically raised for research (mice, rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, and most cats and dogs). The remainder of the
cats and dogs are acquired through animal shelters from "death row". The USDA requires certificates of authenticity, perform audits, and monitor
vendors who sell animals to research facilities. Scientists neither need or want to do research on your pet.
Myth #4- No laws or government regulations protect research animals.
Truth- Let's see for starters here is a brief list or organizations that animal research facilities are governed by:
The Animal Welfare Act
Myth #5- There is no need to test consumer products on animals. Some companies have "not tested on animals" products that you can buy.
Truth- Companies that manufacture food, drugs, household goods, and cosmetics have an ethical and moral obligation to protect the general population.
Companies use animal testing to not only determine the safety of a product, but also the important data of the hazards of the product. What would you
do in case of an emergency (Poison Control Center). ALL products and ingredients in products has been tested on animals at one time or another. Once
the ingredient or product has been proven safe, it is rarely tested a second time.
So the next time you have a headache and pop an asipirin, use neosporin on a cut, take cough medicine, have knee surgery, or buy shampoo
remember who the real heroes are and without their sacrifice our lives and other animals lives would not be the same.