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Animal testers should seek to minimize harm

Illustration by: Ninette Solis | Staff Illustrator

Unfortunately for all those animal lovers out there, sometimes testing on our furry friends is just unavoidable. However, that does not mean those who test on animals get a free pass to murder and harm as many as they deem is necessary.

Nope, sorry guys, but that’s a no-go. Unless, of course, there’s something about torturing tiny adorable animals that just hits the spot for someone.

Assuming animal researchers have at least a modicum of decency or empathy, the least they can do is employ the plethora of alternative techniques and procedures available to lessen the amount of pain and death animals have to undergo while in their care.

While I personally fervently believe that we should not torture innocent fluffy animals, I recognize that there are instances when testing on animals is essential in order to diminish the loss of human life or function. However, others who believe the opposite feel just as strongly.

But despite how vehemently people on each side of the “Should we conduct research on animals?” issue feel, there might not be a simple yes-or-no answer to that question.

So, as it is clear neither of the sides is ever going to concede defeat and let the other claim victory, let’s compromise. And yes, that is in fact possible in this instance.

There are three different methods to minimize the pain animals are subjected to when being tested on, described using the three R’s. First, the technique replaces a procedure that uses animals with one that does not. Pretty simple.

Take the pyrogen test. This is a process that attempts to determine whether potentially fever-causing bacterial toxins are present in vaccines and drugs. Traditionally, rabbits are injected with the vaccine or drug and monitored to see if a fever develops.

But now, instead of using bunnies, researchers could use donor blood from human volunteers. And look, no poor little rabbit got murdered. What a concept, right? This method alone can save hundreds of thousands of rabbits a year. And this technique is just as effective as the one that involves harming a bunny rabbit, so it is a win-win on both fronts.

The second “R” involves anything that reduces the number of animals used in a procedure. An example of this is the “fish threshold method,” which can reduce the number of fish used by 70 percent.

And finally, the third “R” is something that refines a process to alleviate or eliminate the pain the animals might potentially be put through. This could entail administering an anesthetic or the provision of a pain reliever to the animal undergoing testing. It could even involve using a milder technique while still fulfilling the aim of the experiment.

These procedures and techniques are only a few of the abundance of ways animal researchers can reduce either the pain the animals are put through or the number of animals used.

Basically, animal researchers should take every possible opportunity to limit the number or pain of animals they conduct research and tests on. And when there are so many viable options that accomplish just that, why not?


  1. So you couldn’t even be bothered to google the topic before writing this mess, could you? Researchers are already legally required to use non-animal research methods whenever they would work to answer the question at hand. And even were that not the case, they would choose to because not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s cheaper to boot. The 3Rs? Yep, already built into regulations too. And that “modicum of decency or empathy” you aren’t so sure about? That’s what’s motivating researchers to dedicate their lives to making discoveries that will help both humans and animals alike.

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