Imagine being in the position of being asked if you want to dissect a cat or not. Remember that furry friend you have at home who you consider your best friend, does its similar anatomy to a human really make it necessary to dissect on? This is the question that many students ask themselves when finding out that their school requires them to dissect a cat for a grade. But, for those of us who do not have a pet at home or realize that animals have empathy, it may be difficult to fully grasp that the dissection of these animals may seem beneficial, but in reality, is harmful. To others, the amount of cats dissected in schools may not seem significant but in fact, “…it is estimated that approximately 6 million animals are dissected annually across the country” (The National Anti-Vivisection Society). That tragic number is almost nearly as much as the amount of annual deaths caused by cancer! Unfortunately, we are unable to prevent the deaths caused by this deadly, relentless disease. Conversely, the lives of animals dissected in schools lies within your hands. You hold the key to their fate, so why not make the moral and ethical choice for those who cannot make the choice themselves? This is important because countless lives are not only being wasted, but they are being wasted relentlessly when there are cost effective, compassionate alternatives.
Dear Downers Grove South Board of Education,
In your science classes such as biology, specifically anatmomy, students will be asked to dissect a cat. Most of these students are often lied to and told these cats were "already dead" but unlike humans, who voluntarily donate their bodies to science, animals such as cats have no say in their own fate. After all, these cats are purchased for one reason only: death for education. Specifically, “cats… have been purchased in Mexico, only to be killed (by being drowned or having their throats slit), then sent to the U.S. for distribution” (Last Chance for Animals). As if this wouldn’t already be a horrifying death, further cruelty includes “…[being] forcibly injected with preserving fluids after being only partially euthanized, [or] thrown into [a] gas chamber…” (Last Chance for Animals). Why should any creature have to be brutally killed for education? Education is supposed to be life changing, which animal dissection can be, however, it can be done without exploiting lives. Sadly, students are unaware that “many of these cats are obtained from breeders, pet stores, animal dealers, or thieves who redistribute them to dissection companies for students use” (Last Chance for Animals). While lots of students dissect cats for education, the majority of them do not take the time to realize how these cats became dead. Many could argue that those who do realize the lives they are taking disregard the cruelty to cats because they are believed to be already dead or simply euthanized. Although these cats may already be dead when dissection begins, more than likely, these cats were not found this way but found in the wild or captured, forced to give up their lives to education (“Why Students and Teachers are Concerned”).
Of couse cruelty is not the only reason cat dissection must discontinue, cat dissection goes beyond teaching body structures and functions; it teaches disrespect for other forms of nonhuman life. According to The National Anti-Vivisection Society, dissection teaches violence to students by presuming them as expendable. In fact, this holds true to a Florida dissection student who was held accountable for “the mutilation and slaughter of 19 cats...” (PETA). It is said that 18-year-old Tyler Weinman who was later arrested and charged in connection with the killings, was later found to have participated in cat dissection last year in high school (PETA). Because these cats were treated as objects during dissection, when leaving the classroom, students can mistakably make the connection that these animals are for human use, just as Tyler Weinman did.
Further reasoning includes the unecessary use of money. In fact, this solution is not only beneficial to students that wish to not participate, but for schools such as Downers Grove or any other high school who is looking for affordability while still providing quality education. Cat dissection alternatives are great because they come in a variety of options that a school only needs to purchase once, as opposed to continuing to repurchase these cats for students who do not even always get the benefit anyways. Even The Humane Society offers a loan program which allows schools to borrow alternatives for those who can not afford or simply do not wish to partake in cruel dissection practices. As a matter of fact, Cheryl L. Ross, a research assistant for animal research issues, argues that students usually end up learning the exact same thing or even more from alternatives. Also, students who use alternatives find that it enables questions to be answered, more control, and allows room for mistakes; resulting in the achievement of dexterity and precision (Animals Australia). there is a multitude of alternatives available that allows educators to choose which best suits their curriculum: anatomical models, computer programs, CD-ROMs such as the Cat Dissection Library CD-ROM, videotapes, videodiscs, charts, transparencies, slides, books and manuals, virtual dissection, and many more (Last Chance for Animals). With the use of these other choices, it is clear that dissection alternatives can be just as effective by allowing students the ability to use them again and again until they fully grasp the material (Last Chance for Animals). All in all, with the use of alternatives as an effective way of teaching anatomy to students, there is clearly no need to continue this cruel and unnecessary practice of cat dissection.
After all, the 1st Amendment covers a student’s right to refuse to take part in dissection if the situation is non-traditional and tied negatively towards their personal beliefs (C.L. Lindsay III). Not only this, but students who live in California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont or Virginia, have the legal right to refuse to participate in dissection in class! (Last Chance for Animals).
While technology is improving, so can improvement in education, especially when it results in the saving of a life. It is now time to act now and realize that the practice of cat dissection in Downers Grove South is unnecessary when there are equivalent, possibly more effective ways to replace it. These problems can efficently be ceased by switching to alternatives in which can bring down dissection rates of cats and costs of dissection while still providing quality education and efficiency to students. Thank you for your time and I hope you consider giving animals theirs.