The petition is a call to action to Castle View high school to end cat dissection.
This petition is also a thank you to Pope Francis, and others, who has called for a better world in 2014. And a thank you to the older girls of girl scout troop 4130 who tried to do so, by calling for an end to unnecessary cat dissection at Castle View High School.
To: Principal James Calhoun, Castle View high school
To: Dr. Elizabeth Fagen, Superintendent Douglas County Schools, Colorado
We, the cosigned, respectfully request that Castle View High School in Castle Rock, Colorado desist from dissecting cats.
--In 38 out of 40 studies showed humane alternatives to be as effective as dissection in imparting knowledge of function and structure.
--A child who refused to dissect the cat was confronted by the human anatomy teacher in the middle of a lecture. When she still refused, the human anatomy teacher left the classroom unattended, insisting on accompaning the child to the office where she was told to drop the class.
--Other children who have taken the human anatomy course involving cat dissection have expressed their regret and have, in their words, "learned nothing."
--That the principal writes in his justification of dissection the culling of animals is sometimes beneficial to the entire population. In the case of cats, we disagree, in that TNR, or trap neuter return, has proved to be less costly and more humane than euthanizing animals.
--A leading gross anatomy professor in Colorado shared his opinion that there is little value in comparing a cat's anatomy to a human's.
--That one of the Castle View high school professors informed us that she chose physics over biology so that she would not have to dissect or pith animals, but thinks it is perfectly fine to require children to do so.
--The National Science Teachers Association has developed Next Generation Science Standards that emphasize five key areas of biology U.S. high school student need to study to remain competitive. Comparative anatomy/zoology is not among these top five. In fact we were told by the President of the NSTA that comparative anatomy is out of date and unnecessary.
--95% of North American medical schools have dropped labs dealing with animal remains.
--50% of North American veterinarian schools have also dropped these labs.
--Colorado shelters will not sell animals to supply companies. Many biological supply companies, including that which supplies Douglas county, currently have or have had violations under the Animal Welfare Act
--Headlines across the country have recently shown pictures of high school students posting pictures of themselves posing with parts of cats they have dissected.
--Many countries which are competitive in science such as Norway, Sweden and Germany do not require dissection in their high school.
Given all of the above, we believe that science has changed. Teaching science should change as well. If one can become a doctor without working on animal remains, one should be able to pass high school science courses without dissection. We thank the local girl scout troop which has been and still are proposing two alternatives to dissection to the school – college level human dissection software and/or a taped dissection of a cat by a professor of veterinarian surgery at a leading veterinarian school in order to help Castle View achieve their desired curriculum.
We hold teachers in high regard and thank everyone at Douglas County for their service. However, we think that in these modern times, a school district which asks children as young as 3rd grade to dissect should reevaluate its curriculum. Given all the above, we respectfully request that the school desist in the unnecessary dissection of cats immediately and consider alternatives to the dissection of all animals or a change in curriculum that is more in alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards as developed by the National Science Teachers' Association.
*In the words of Pope Francis: a little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just. This petition was written on Christmas Eve 2013. Even though this petition is addressed to Pope Francis, the recipient is the Holy See. We do not wish to bombard the Pope, who seeks to alleviate the injustice of far larger issues such as poverty, child labour, and slavery with our small town petition. While we are not Catholic, we believe that the Pope's messages on humanity and compassion is universal. We further believe that the way we treat one another and the way we treat other species are interrelated. When we see the Pope celebrate his birthday with three homeless men and a dog, we understand that the Pope is a human being who leads by example. There is no better time than Christmas Eve to reflect on the idea that the showing of compassions to all living beings on our planet is an indelible sign of our humanity. Living in the city of Denver, a city rocked by mass shootings in our schools and movie theatres over the last two decades, we believe the teaching of compassion is as important now as ever.
We also thank the older girl scouts of troop 4130 who tried to work with the school to find alternatives to cat dissection. In the words of the great American poet Lemony Snicket: Certain people have said that the world is like a calm pond, and that anytime a person does even the smallest thing, it is as if a stone has dropped into the pond, spreading circles of ripples further and further out, until the entire world has been changed by one tiny action.