Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) and In Defense of Animals (IDA) are rallying animal advocates to stand up for the millions animals who die behind closed doors every year for World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week and World Week for Animals in Labs both taking place this April 20-28.
Millions of animals are used in research and while the industry is supposed to minimize pain and provide appropriate care, continuous violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and blatant abuse have been found and brought to light repeatedly through inspections and by whistleblowers and undercover investigations.
In addition to the suffering caused by inhumane handling and procedures, animals used by the research industry most often prove to be unreliable models for human diseases and die in vain. According to the FDA, 92 percent of drugs that show promise in animals fail in clinical trials. Some drugs that make it through have only ended up causing more problems.
While the debate about animal experimentation continues in the scientific community with some clinging to the “animal model,” many others argue that it’s not only unethical, but scientifically unjustifiable. Fortunately, progress is being made that allows for the use of valid alternatives in research from computer modeling and epidemiological studies to cell and tissue cultures, which are all becoming increasingly available and will hopefully replace the use of animals entirely.
Meanwhile, there are a few things you can do to give animals in labs a voice:
Attend an Event
Gatherings, film screenings, presentations, candlelight vigils, literature tabling, protests and media events will be going on around the world next week. You can find a list of SAEN events to attend here, register your own event here or register an event with IDA here.
Support Humane and Responsible Science
If you’re looking to donate to a charity, give and let live. Visit the Humane Seal for a list of organizations that use progressive non-animal research methods for a number of health issues ranging from cancer and Alzheimers disease to HIV/AIDS, trauma treatments and substance abuse. You can also encourage businesses to choose animal-friendly organizations for their charitable giving programs and encourage charities to explore non-animal research methods, or you can make a donation to organizations such as American Fund for Alternatives to Animal Research (AFAAR), which is dedicated to supporting the development and validation of alternatives to animals in research.
Help Protect Birds, Rats and Mice
Birds, rats and mice, who are believed to make up 95 percent of test subjects, are not covered under the AWA – the only federal law that offers any protection for animals in labs. The AWA was amended in 1970 to include all warm-blooded animals, but these three were expressly excluded. The industry continues to argue that regulating these species would be too costly.
Please sign the petition asking Congress to amend the AWA to include birds, rats and mice.
Support the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act
The U.S. is the last nation in the world that still allows invasive research on great apes. Recently there’s been a lot of talk about ending this practice, and there was recently a victory for chimpanzees when the National Institutes of Health retired more than 100 of them from the New Iberia Research Center. Many of the chimpanzees used in research have spent decades being used in invasive research. It’s time to get them out of cages and into the sun at sanctuaries.
Please sign and share the petition supporting the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, which will phase out testing for an estimated 1,000 chimpanzees currently in U.S. labs, retire 500 federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries and ban breeding chimpanzees for the purpose of using them in biomedical research.
Look for the Leaping Bunny
As consumers, we have the power to affect the success of businesses by spending our dollars at ethical companies. Unfortunately, products that are labeled “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals” might seem like good choices, but that isn’t always the case, since “cruelty-free” isn’t technically, or legally, defined. Products that are simply labeled as “not tested on animals” or “cruelty-free” may have been tested by other companies, in other countries, at the ingredient level or at certain stages of development making it confusing and frustrating for those of us who are trying to make compassionate choices and support animal-friendly companies.
The Leaping Bunny program, which is managed by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) in the U.S. and Canada, requires companies that carry its signature leaping bunny logo to pledge not to test on animals at any stage of development and remain open to independent audits in order to stay certified.
You can also sign and share the petition supporting a ban on animal testing for cosmetics in the U.S.
Adopt an Activist
IDA is offering the option of adopting an activist by making a donation that will help cover the cost of materials used by activists and event organizers who are holding an event or volunteering for World Week for Animals in Laboratories, such as posters and literature.
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