Beyond Dissection

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Alternatives to dissection in our schools

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  • In this millennium, there are so many humane alternatives of instruction which equal or excel in teaching and understanding of anatomy. The Science Bank by Animalearn, offers alternatives to dissection available on loan for free. Animalearn is dedicated to assisting educators and students find non animal methods to study science. The program originated in 1996. With a visa card, Animalearn takes a no charge deposit while the computer software is on loan. No charges are incurred unless the material is not returned within the time prescribed. Beyond Dissection is a catalog by Ethical Science Education Coalition, where teachers may purchase software of whole animal dissection/vivisection and animal organ or system anatomy and physiology. California, Illinois, Florida. Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,New York and Pennsylvania now have laws or resolutions allowing students the right to refuse not to participate in dissection and have urged alternative education projects. New Jersey and New Hampshire are now pending the same legislation.
  • Dissection was introduced into education in the 1920’s as a way of studying anatomy, biology, physiology and the theory of evolution. It was during a time when people were not so aware, or not al all aware of issues involving the environment and animal life. Animals used for dissection can have a miserable existence in the process of being captured, transported and ultimately killed. Dissection has become a big business. The nation’s largest biological supply company alone grosses $25 to $30 million annually in sales of animals for dissection. These costs are borne by schools. Biology courses are intended to expose students to useful concepts and stimulate an interest in the life sciences, but dissections can interfere with these goals. Dissection devalues life and teaches insensitivity by treating living beings as disposable objects. Because so many students in high schools and elementary schools have refused to dissect, the right to refuse has been established in many schools throughout the country. Killing animals for classroom dissection causes animal suffering and cheapens the value of life. AWA is the Animal Welfare Act which currently excludes elementary and secondary schools from animal use regulation.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) is the division of the government which oversees the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. The AWA requires that animal dealers be licensed as Class A, or Class B dealers and be inspected by the USDA. Class A Dealers are breeders. Class B dealers purchase and sell live and/or dead animals. Class B dealers procure animals a number of different ways, including from “random sources” which can include stray animals, “free to a good home” ads or pets left unattended. Class B dealers may sell these animals to companies, who are also Class B dealers under the AWA definition. The techniques used for killing cats can vary from euthanizing to drowning to not fully euthanizing them and then forcibly injecting them with preserving fluids while still alive. One reasonable estimate is that about 6 million vertebrate animals are dissected yearly in US high schools alone. When it is expected of students, most dissect without open complaint. However, the Humane Society of the United States has compiled ten published surveys, conducted mainly by academic researchers, showing that many or most students harbor reservations about dissecting animals. Their reasons include the belief that is is wrong to kill an animal for an education lesson, physical aversion to cutting apart an animal and a concern for the environment. Another major criticism of dissection is that it tends to disregard the need for teaching and learning respect and compassion for other sentient life and the need for fostering stewardship of nature. Dissection is also criticized for turning many bright, sensitive students away from promising careers in the life sciences(e.g., medicine, veterinary medicine and nursing). Australian philosopher Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation,contends that correct action is achieved by selecting the alternative that promotes the greatest balance of good over bad results.It is clear that mammals, fish, birds and reptiles all share capacities for suffering and enjoyment. Thus, the capacity to suffer or enjoy makes one an object of moral concern because it provides one with interests that deserve to be taken into account when we consider what actions to pursue. An Act Utilitarian holds that among the alternative actions available to an agent that alternative which is likely to provide the greatest balance of good over bad consequences is the morally correct one. Specieism is the moral objection of an experiment on a human that we willfully perform on another species. To continue to exploit healthy,intelligent animals for science classes when alternatives exist continues the philosophical dilemma of not striving for good over bad practice.
  • Bartonella henslea is the organism responsible for cat scratch disease. Infected cats may be bacteremic (bacteria in the blood). Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that can be transmitted to humans through contact with cat feces. Cats are the definitive host so they are required for the life cycle of the parasite. Toxo can be transmitted to other animals and to humans. It is most serious in pregnant women as it affects the fetus, but also is one of the serious diseases of immune compromised people. Tularemia is another bacterial disease.(F tularensis) that is normally carried in the rabbit population. Cats and humans can become infected. An infected cat could be a source of disease for it’s owner. Plague has been transmitted from cats to humans with fatal outcomes for both. This is especially true with pneumonic plague (infection of the lungs). Giardia is a protozoal parasite that causes diarrhea in mammals. Feces from cats can be a source for human infection.
  • Rose, M. and Adams, D. 1989. Evidence for pain and suffering in other animals. In: Animal Experimentation - The Consensus Changes , p. 42-71, ed. G. Langley. London: Macmillan. Short, C.E. 1998. Fundamentals of pain perception in animals. Applied Animal Behavior Science , 59: 125-133. Willis, W.D. 1985. The Pain System - The Neural Basis of Nociceptive Transmission in the Mammalian Nervous System . New York: S. Karger. Willis, W.D. and Chung, J.M. 1987. Central mechanisms of pain. JAVMA 191(10):1200-1202. Yaksh, T. L. 1993. The central pharmacology of pain states. Proceedings (refresher Course Syllabus) of the 7 th World Congress on Pain. Paris, France, August, pp. 13-30.
  • Classic references for classical conditioning and prediction of fearful events: Estes, W. K. & Skinner, B. F. (1941) Some quantitative properties of anxiety. Journal of Experimental Psychology , 29 , 390-400. Rescorla, R. A., & Wagner, A. R. (1972). A theory of Pavlovian conditioning: Variations in the effectiveness of reinforcement and nonreinforcement. In A. H. Black & W. F. Prokasy (Eds), Classical conditioning II: Current research and theory (pp. 64-99). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts. References on animal timing: Church, R.M. (1997) Timing and temporal search. In. C. M. Bradshaw and E. Szabadi (Eds.) Time and behavior: Psychological and neurobiological analysis. Amsterdam: Elsevier. pp. 41-78. Gibbon, J., Church, R. M., Fairhurst, S., &Kacelnik, A. Scalar expectancy theory and choice between delayed rewards. Psychological Review , 1988, 95, 102-114 Fetterman, J.G., Killeen, P.R., Hall, S. (1998). Watching the clock. Behavioral Processes, 44, p. 211-224.
  • Cats, frogs, fetal pigs, grasshoppers, earthworms, rats,mice, dogs, pigeons and turtles are just some of the animals used. There are differing reasons for not using animals in education, from objecting to the needless suffering and killing of animals to the desensitization of students and teachers.Of those animals who are taken from the wild, purposely bred, taken from pounds and shelters or stolen, all will be held captive, recycled into other experiments or killed. Killing animals for dissection can and does entail considerable suffering. For dissection labs, the students do not participate in the animal’s death, but the death of an animal comes before any dissection. The process by which animals reach death varies and can include the trauma of being removed from their natural habitat, stress from shipping, dehydrating, food deprivation and abuse.Cats are obtained from a variety of different sources, including pounds, shelters and Class B dealers. The techniques used for killing cats can vary from authorizing to drowning, to not fully euthanizing them and then forcibly injecting the from preserving fluids while still alive. Fetal pigs are removed from pregnant sows, slaughtered for meat. Up to 90% of animals used for dissection , including frogs, turtles and perch are wild caught. These animals can suffer suffocation and crushing when they are transported to animal dealers and to biological supply companies. While in most dissection processes, students do not participate in killing animals, some of the procedures performed on animals in education do entail actual killing. Pithing, for example, involves inserting a sharp object into an anmals’s braincase and moving it around vigorously to “scramble” her or his brain. This process remains a common method for rendering frogs and turtles “brain-dead” for physiology laboratory experiments.
  • Ignorance of this human animal connection alienate students from the animals who lay before them. Another message that dissection and other science exercises relay is that in order to study life, we must first take a life. Dissection frames the killing of animals as educational and therefore justifies it. In school, students are often asked to care about certain animals because they are endangered or wild. Conversely, they are asked to dissect animals, sometimes the very species they have been told to protect. Formaldehyde can threaten public health as well as the environment. This nearly colorless, highly irritating gas with a sharp odor is known to cause cancer. Most people notice the pungent odor and may experience irritation of the eyes, nose, throat when they breath the gas, even at low levels for short periods. Direct skin contact with formaldehyde containing liquids, such as formalin, may cause severe burns to the throat and stomach. As little as 2 tablespoons of formalin can cause death in humans. Bullfrogs and leopard frogs are the most popular dissected animals. Frogs cannot be bred in a cost effective manner. Biological supply companies receive most of these animals from dealers who capture them from the wild. Populations of frogs have dramatically declined in recent years. While this is largely from habitat destruction and pollution, the systematic collection of million of frogs worsens the problem. In their natural habitats, frogs consume large numbers of insects. With the loss of frogs, insect populations have risen notably and caused dramatic damages. When insect populations increase, so too does the use of pesticides. Pesticides enter the water supply and food chain.
  • Dissection is often defended as the best way to learn anatomy. Yet studies show that students using alternatives do at least as well if not better than those who dissect animals. For some students, using the dissection of an animal to explore human anatomy leads to confusion due to the fact that there are inherent differences among species. Educators also cite the opportunity for students to get hands on experience using surgical like skills. While 75% to 80% of American High school students will dissect at least 1 animal in school, less than 1% of them will enter a field where their dissection experience is even remotely related. This calls in the question the necessity of killing animals for dissection when such a small percentage of students even have an interest in these fields. No study or evidence supports the claim that hands on experience of dissection is more conducive to learning. In fact, many students who are interested in the medical field before they dissect are so disturbed by the realization that they will be forced to kill animals that they rethink the idea completely. The choice of using cats and dogs from a pound is often ethically justified as the animal would have been euthnanized anyway. One of the most compelling reasons for not using animals from the pound is that is institutionalizes the thought that receiving cats and dogs from a shelter is acceptable, without any thought to the societal ills that put these animals into a pound or shelter in the first place. It creates a demand of euthanized cats and dogs without questioning the ethical justification of euthanizing animals. Another compelling reason for not using animals from shelters is that neither students nor teachers can tell whether a cat or dog is obtained from a shelter or stolen from a backyard. Classrooms create this demand and Class B dealers can choose to meet that demand legally or illegally. Ethically, educators and students might want to explore some questions. What is the difference between a shelter dog and a stolen pet? Why would it be all right to dissect one, but not the other? Who chooses? Often students are led to believe that dissecting an animal will help them learn about human anatomy. Students who are planning to pursue careers in biology or medicine would do better to study human anatomy, observe medical procedures, examine human cadavers, or try some sophisticated alternatives(such as computer models) rather than studying animal based anatomy. The argument for a student wanting to become a veterinarian, would be be: If a student wants to become a medical doctor, then studying human anatomy and physiology is logical. A student then who wants to become a veterinarian, should then study animal anatomy and physiology. Is it acceptable to kill frogs, cats and other animals so that they can become a veterinarian and save animal lives?l
  • Follow the leaders. Israel Education Minister Yossi Sarid mandated the exclusion of experiments on animals during biology lessons at state schools. Sarid stated the he “was not convinced that dissecting a frog is so vital for students’ studies that is is impossible to learn biology without it”, The Education Minister went on to say that “It’s more important to teach Israeli students compassion for animals, and human compassion like this will create more compassion for human beings”. The top 10 medical schools no longer utilize animal dissection in their curriculum. Of 126 US Medical Schools, 80 have terminated use of live dog labs and others are following. Israel and these 10 top medical schools are setting an a compassionate ideal that the entire nation should follow.Florida, California, Pennsylvania and New York have Dissection Laws and Policies. Although it is the clear intention of Biology instructor to teach anatomy, over the years of experiencing dissection and/or vivisection in schools, it systematically erodes compassion for animals.There is a direct correlation between animal violence and human violence. If we are to make a difference in education we must break the cycle. We must work to promote alternatives to dissection and vivisection. It’s time to put the life back into life science.
  • Utilizing the Science Bank is absolutely free. However, for purposes of cost analyses, Dissection versus alternatives the following are figures of the school actually purchasing the programs: These figures are based on 1998 prices. They are based on a hypothetical school’s needs for a three year period. Reusable materials(dissection tools, trays, computer programs, models, charts, etc..) are treated as one time purchases. Costs are based on a ratio of two students per animal dissected-45 animals a year, 135 animals over three years. The comparison assumes the school already has computers, but not VCR or CD-ROM players. The computer program for a cat is $2,390.00, for Dissection it is $6,732.00. This is a savings of $4,343.00. For a Bullfrog, the alternative is $1,850.50, for Dissection it is $2,229.75, a savings of $379.25. A Fetal Pig’s alternative cost is $1,344.90, the dissection is $1,747.80, a savings of $402.90. Please review the cost comparison attached. Please review attached Comparative Studies of Dissection and Other Animal Uses in Education compiled by Dr. Jonathan Balcomb, from the Humane Society of the United States, 1999.
  • Please review attached on student perspectives from the AV magazine, Summer 1996, pp 16-17.
  • The guidelines of the NABT state “living things are the subject of biology and their direct study is an appropriate and necessary part of biology teaching….the abuse of any living organism for experimentation or any other purpose is intolerable in any segment of society. Because biology deals specifically with living things, professional biology educators musts be especially cognizant of their responsibility to prevent the inhumane treatment of living organisms in the nave of science and research. This responsibility should extend beyond the confines of the teacher's classroom to the rest of these school and community. The National Association of Biology Teachers believes that students learn the value of living things and the values of science by the events they witness in the classroom. …….The lab activity should not cause the loss of an animal’s life. Bacteria, fungi, protozoan and invertebrates should be used in activities that may require use of harmful substances or loss of an organism’s life. These activities should be clearly supported by an educational rationale and should not be uses when alternatives are available.These standards ask that teachers help their students inquire and construct strong ideas about science process and content. They ask that exploration occur every day in an open environment. Students are encouraged to generate and explore questions,, not memorize answers. Many teachers have abandoned dissection. Behavior studies involve appreciation of the natural activities of organisms is as close to native settings as possible, not their reactions to stress. Behavior studies encourage observation and appreciation. Biology teachers, those that teach “the study of life” are in a unique position to integrate many of these issues in daily classroom activities. Exciting teaching aids can simultaneously develop computer literacy, promote environmental awareness and encourage stimulating discussion about values and choices.
  • Please refer to attached Humane Science Projects.
  • Beyond Dissection

    1. 1. Beyond Dissection GEORGIA BENYK, M. Ed. School Psychologist/Facilitator Humane Education Club DR. PATRICIA HAIGHT Adjunct Faculty Professor Maricopa County Community Colleges and Northern Arizona University MIRA J LESLIE, DVM,MPH State Public Health Veterinarian Arizona Department of Health Services
    2. 2. Replacement, Reduction and Refinement, the 3 R’s <ul><li>In 1960’s and 1970’s Russell and Burch offer a blueprint in “ The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique ” for a new kind of collaboration with animals. </li></ul><ul><li>Replacement :replacement of animals with non animal models </li></ul><ul><li>Reduction: reduction of animals used. </li></ul><ul><li>Refinement :refined procedures to minimize or avoid pain. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Be Proactive <ul><li>The Humane Society of the US is diligently working on amending the AWA to regulate and replace, reduce and refine animal dissection so that alternatives are exclusively used throughout the country. </li></ul>
    4. 4. Some issues related to dissection <ul><li>Educational: Is dissection really the best way for students to learn? </li></ul><ul><li>Psychological: How does dissection affect students? </li></ul><ul><li>Morality: The significance of suffering and enjoyment and striving for the greatest good. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Public Health Risks <ul><li>The implications of zoonotic diseases from dissection of fresh feline carcasses are : </li></ul><ul><li>Bartonella, Salmonella, Toxoplasmosis, Rabies, Plague, Tularemia and Giardia. </li></ul>
    6. 6. Animals do feel pain <ul><li>Pain perception mechanisms in the central nervous system of vertebrate animals such as cats, dogs, and pigs are designed in the same way as human pain perception mechanisms </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>receptor cells, effector cells, interneurons, nerves, and ganglia are the same </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>afferent and efferent pathways are the same </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>sensory cortex and motor cortex areas are very similar </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>there is ample evidence supporting the idea that a cat or pig’s perception of pain is the same or, at the very least, very similar to that of a human </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>if you want to know what an animal experiences, do it to yourself </li></ul></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Animals do anticipate frightening events and are subject to stress and anxiety <ul><li>Anticipatory fear responses in animals </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pavlov and every researcher following Pavlov, who has demonstrated classical conditioning in animals, agrees that the ability to classically condition an animal demonstrates the animals ability to anticipate and predict events in the environment. Classical conditioning demonstrates that animals learn quickly to anticipate fearful events. The anticipation of frightening events creates stress and anxiety in the animal. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Animals, such as cats are sentient creatures capable of experiencing fear and anxiety. The fight or flight response in humans is very similar to the fight or flight response in other animals. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Studies of time perception in animals demonstrate that animals such as cats, dogs, and pigeons can mediate time and can predict, quite accurately, when a frightening event will occur. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 8. ANIMALS IN EDUCATION... <ul><li>Every year, millions of animals are harmed or killed in or for elementary school, middle school high school, college and graduate school courses. </li></ul><ul><li>In the past several decades, numbers of people have begun questioning the use and abuse of animals for educational purposes </li></ul>
    9. 9. Desensitization of Students and Teachers <ul><li>Many people feel a natural connection with animals </li></ul><ul><li>Many educational projects and labs ignore this connection and help create a feeling that animals are objects, subjects and not living, feeling beings. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Common Thoughts on Dissection and Vivisection <ul><li>Dissection is the best way to learn </li></ul><ul><li>We use animals that would have been euthanized anyway. </li></ul><ul><li>If a student wants to be a doctor, she or he had better dissect an animal in high school. </li></ul><ul><li>What if she/he wants to be a veterinarian? </li></ul><ul><li>Quality alternatives don’t exist </li></ul><ul><li>Do students have to dissect or vivisect? </li></ul>
    11. 11. Alternatives to Dissection and Vivisection <ul><li>Use free sophisticated computer models Animalearn’s The Science Bank </li></ul><ul><li>Purchase technologically sophisticated software </li></ul><ul><li>Mannequins </li></ul><ul><li>Observations </li></ul><ul><li>Working with veterinarians </li></ul>
    12. 12. Benefits of The Science Bank <ul><li>Cost </li></ul><ul><li>Cultivating a humane child </li></ul><ul><li>Encouraging computer literacy </li></ul><ul><li>Student testimonials </li></ul><ul><li>Preserving the environment </li></ul>
    13. 13. Beyond Dissection <ul><li>Dissection results in the needless suffering and killing of animals </li></ul><ul><li>Dissection desensitizes students and teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Dissection has an impact on the environment </li></ul><ul><li>There are human health risks </li></ul>
    14. 14. Biology is the study of LIFE <ul><li>Code of Practice on Use of Animals in Schools recommended by the National Science Teachers Association </li></ul><ul><li>National Association of Biology Teachers Guidelines for the Use of live animals </li></ul>
    15. 15. Some suggestions for exploring alternatives to dissection <ul><li>Cease Dissection with Humane Science Projects </li></ul><ul><li>Pilot studies </li></ul><ul><li>Experimental classrooms </li></ul><ul><li>Establishing a committee to examine alternative materials and design alternative curricula </li></ul>

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