“Under the stress of forced dissection—or dog lab, or any other harmful use of an animal—education is thwarted. When forced to use animals in ways the student objects to, the student is traumatized and invariably learns less.”- Dr. Theodora Capaldo
Animal dissection labs are an unethical and unnecessary part of the secondary school biology curriculum.
The millions of animals that are dissected each year in education systems are subjects of severe animal abuse (PETA paragraph 1). Many of these animals are sold to schools from fur companies, pet stores and, many times, slaughterhouses (PETA paragraph 2). Animals are often stockpiled on top of one another and shipped in crowded containers with no temperature regulation, food, or water (NEAVS paragraph 4). Animals are treated unjustly, and by buying these dissection sets, it is funding and promoting the abuse of animals.
Millions of frogs are harvested every year from the wild for dissection purposes. This means that, along with all of the other ways humans are impacting frog populations, such as global climate change and pollution, humans are also destroying their populations. It has also created an ecological imbalance (NEAVS paragraph 7). In the school curriculum, children are taught about the biodiversity crisis and all of its negative aspects, but at the same time, students are encouraged to contribute to it.
Many animals taken for school dissections, especially fetal pigs, are by-products of the meat industry. Almost all of the pigs slaughtered for human consumption are raised in crowded, confined conditions. Not only are their lives substantially shortened, but they are also deprived of space, fresh air, and fresh forage. The fetuses used for dissections are taken from pregnant sows at the slaughterhouse (Humane Society paragraph 4). By continuing with animal dissections, school boards are promoting the mistreatment of the animals raised for the meat industry.
Furthermore, animal dissections impact the environment negatively in other ways. Many of these animals are preserved in toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde. This compound is a carcinogen in humans. “The EPA has designated formaldehyde as a hazardous air pollutant, water pollutant, and waste constituent (NEAVES paragraph 8).”
It is not necessary for students to dissect animals in order to see what the insides of the animals look like. If a student were to pursue a career in a field where this is needed, they would have the opportunity to dissect human cadavers in a post-secondary environment. However, very few students who participate in these labs in high school will actually go down these career paths. In fact, dissections may even dissuade some from pursuing careers in science (PETA paragraph 4). The only thing that an animal dissection lab teaches students is that an animal’s life is disposable and unimportant.
This being said, buying animals for all biology classes can be quite costly. The cost for a high school dissection set can be over $1000.00. However, this is only a one-time purchase. Three years worth of frogs can cost about $1500.00, and for fetal pigs almost $3000.00. However, nowadays there are so many educational, interactive dissection programs that can be used instead, such as Digital Frog 2.5, V-FrogTM, DissectionWorks CatWorks, and many more (Animalearn). With the technologies and programs available in schools to aid with virtual dissections, the money spent on buying dissection sets can clearly be put to better use. These animals have a one-time use limit, and for it to have to suffer or die unnaturally for a high school biology lab is immoral.
Research has shown that a considerable amount of students are uncomfortable with the use of animals in dissection and experimentation (PETA Paragraph 4). Often times, there are not enough alternatives available for students, even though there are many programs widely accessible to schools. More than 25 published studies confirm that students using alternative methods of dissections learn just as well, if not better. This is because, with an alternative activity such as a virtual lab, it can be repeated, and has the ability to show continuous processes such as a beating heart (Humane Research Australia paragraph 7).
So why continue to promote the mistreatment of animals and spend thousands of dollars on something that doesn’t positively contribute to the high school curriculum or help students learn in any way?
"Animals in Education." New England Anti-Vivisection Society. N.p., n.d. Web. .
"A Cost Comparison Between Animal Dissection and Humane Educational Alternatives." Animalearn: Animals, Ethics, and Education. The Science Bank, n.d. Web. .
"Dissection: Lessons in Cruelty." PETA. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, n.d. Web. .
Kerry, Krigger. "Frog Dissections." Save the Frogs. N.p., n.d. Web.