Controversial Billboard Asks, “Who Should Live A Rat Or A Little Girl?”

A controversial billboard promoting the use of animals in medical research is popping up in major U.S. cities. 

The billboard with a smiling little girl on one side and a white lab rat on the other asks, “Who would you rather see live?”

(Click here to view billboard)

The billboards which have appeared in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Baltimore and Madison, WI are part of a campaign called Research Saves.

It is sponsored by the Foundation for Biomedical Research, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit group that according to ABC News is “funded by universities, hospitals, advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms with a stake in animal research.”

All of the billboards were strategically placed in cities with “a major medical or primate research center.”

The goal of the campaign is raise public support for animal research or to at least get people thinking about the issue.  FBR found that a large percentage of the public hasn’t made up their mind about the use of animals in medical research.

FBR Director of Media & Marketing Communications Liz Hodge said,

the aim is “to get people to think where the benefits are coming from that we expect when we’re sick.”

The Foundation also initiated the campaign as a way to stop animal rights groups that are making headway in closing down animal research labs.

Frankie Tull, president of the Foundation explained,

“Without research with animals models, especially rodents, we will not have cures for the many currently incurable diseases afflicting children today including leukemia, diabetes, paralysis, autism, congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis, Deuchenne muscular dystrophy and malaria.”

Ms. Hodge also threw a bone to animal lovers when she pointed out how some of the new treatments which were developed on lab animals are now being used to save the lives of dogs.

Fighting Back

PETA’s Kathy Gullerimo refuted the campaign and says it sends the wrong message to people.  She reminded people that all species“…can experience pain.  They all can suffer.”

In my opinion the larger question that FBR doesn’t ask on its billboard is, “Does this rat have to die in order for the little girl to live?”

For years, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has answered that question with an unequivocal – NO. 

Since 1985 the nonprofit organization has promoted replacing animal experimentation with “non-animal techniques” for ethical reasons and because it produces better research.

Studies done by PCRM actually show that researchers get more accurate results when animals aren’t used as models. Lab animals become stressed during tests and this can unintentionally alter the outcome. 

Their studies show that even rodents who are given  “minimally invasive” tests have elevated pulse and blood pressure levels which can skew research results.

Dr. John Pippin, an advisor to PCRM said, “90 percent of drugs that worked on animals failed in human trials.”

Ultimately the billboard campaign appears to be a payback to some of the animal activist groups who have attacked and intimidated medical researchers in universities over the past several years. FBR hopes to sway public opinion in their favor.


Creative Commons - Anvisuals


John S.
Past Member 6 years ago

Good ad, gets people talking, maybe some will think through the issues.

Jane R.
Jane R6 years ago

It's sad but I do think there is a need for lab rats. How about the people out there (maybe you) who put out rat poison when your yard or house is infested? Are you being humane? Rats carry diseases, I don't want them in my yard.

caterina caligiuri

Think that each creature has the right to life is not more important than a rat is life for me and for the rat... we - the mankind - have not right to do what we do with animals...cruelty and abuse to survive our lives...I want to live but no like to live knowing that have to kill others creatures for me...and in those terrible ways...we use them from our money spent for them...but a lot of money earned on the animals life...!!!...Don't like it..!!!....we want to save us ...that's ok and so ...let experimente on our bodies and not on the bodies and the life of others....!!!! *cat

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

I hope most of us can read past the idiotic propoganda....

JW H.6 years ago

Hands down - kill the rat and use some of you who obviously have no children for research. Patricia - stff it - you know more than all of these university researcher? Give me a break. Perhaps research can only advance to a point without the help of a rat.

Patricia Ann A.
Patricia A6 years ago

The point is we do not have to choose. This "advertisement" from the drug companies is presenting a false and untrue dichotomy that is both ethically lazy and simply not true. Staying invested in animal research has set us back decades due to how archaic and low yielding the results have been. We are stuck in these archaic methods unable to advance because our entire infrastructure, funding, grant, medical publication and license system is based on it. We have wasted time, lives and trillions of dollars when we should have been investing in tomorrows methods and results as Europe is doing. We should outraged that such inefficiency has taken place. Ironically the chemical and pharma industries are the ones choosing the rat over the girls life. It is about that girls life that is lost everyday because we are still using research methods that equal blood letting because we are so financially entrenched in these ridiculous practices. Now that is unethical. Time to move on, we have the capabilities but no one is willing to use them because the funding is not set up, they would loose their money. It is the National Institute of Health and the research industries that are making the choice of using animals and making money over saving humans, that is the point and it is time for them to stop.

Eva H.
Eva H.6 years ago

To Jody, Katherine, and all the other losers who choose the rat: does that also include YOU as the little girl? If any of you brainless wonders were lying on a stretcher in life-threatening pain, and someone said "hey, we can use a procedure we developed on rats" you'd LEAP at the chance, rats be damned! And don't tell me about animal research being useless - ever get a suture? Had a relative get a stent? I could name dozens of procedures where animal research was ABSOLUTELY necessary to save human life. Of curse, that doesn't mean anything to you, but it would if the life was YOURS....

Katherine S.
Katherine S6 years ago

not to be cruel but I would rather let the rat live
killing a rat is not a GUARANTEED way to save the girl's life

there are also alternatives, like testing on human volunteers instead of defenseless animals

Jody H.
Jody H6 years ago

I hate that the billboard presupposes that we must choose between the rat and the girl. What about alternatives?

Hipster D.
Hipster D.6 years ago

I'm with Kye, give me a rat anyday! I can't believe we are still having to convince people that vivisection, and the results obtained thorugh the use of, are fraught with inconsistencies. Keep up the good work people!