ANIMALS IN EDUCATION

Guidelines for Objecting to Dissection

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Be Proactive and Take Responsibility 

Before the term starts, or as soon as possible thereafter, ask your teacher/ instructor whether you will be expected to dissect or use live or once-live animals. Find out precisely what you will be asked to do. Read the course syllabus thoroughly so you have a good idea what to expect because you cannot rely on your teacher/ instructor to give you advance warning.

 

Voice Your Objections Early

As soon as possible, tell your teacher/instructor of your intention not to participate in dissection experiments; do not wait until the day of the dissection lab to voice your opinion. This will give you and your teacher/ instructor time to work out an acceptable alternative.

State your objections calmly and clearly and be prepared to discuss (not argue) your reasons for refusing to dissect. Presume that your teacher/ instructor may have a different belief system on the issue of animal use, and it is unlikely that you will change those views. However, stress that you do not wish this value system to be imposed upon you, as it conflicts with your ethical or spiritual beliefs.

 

Suggest Alternatives

Before you propose an alternative to the use of animals, find out what the objective of the particular lesson is supposed to be so that you can specifically address the academic aim.  Depending on your level of education, this could include writing a paper; observing animals in their natural (pets, farms, backyard, ponds, forest) or artificial (zoos) habitats; observing functions of the human body (classmates’ or parents’ heartbeats, blood pressures, muscle functions); conducting a virtual dissection using computers; preparing anatomical charts or diagrams; or utilizing life-like animal models.

The alternative project should take an equivalent amount of time and effort and be relevant to the course work. Prepare yourself to be tested on the same materials as other students, as long as the test itself does not include a practical dissection, or the use of dissected specimens. Call the NAVS Dissection Hotline at 1-800-922-FROG (3764) for alternative project suggestions.

 

Put It in Writing

It may be necessary to send a letter or email to your teacher/ instructor, department head, dean, or school board in order to formally explain your beliefs. Keep letters short and to the point, avoid being defensive or argumentative and stick to the issue, i.e. your right to have your beliefs respected and your willingness to commit an equivalent amount of time and energy to an alternative project. You may also wish to provide suggestions for alternatives to dissection.

Always keep copies of your letters/ emails for your own file, as these will be important if you ultimately take legal action.  You should always keep a diary or written summary of your actions, including dates, times and subjects of conversation, as well as individuals involved.

 

Follow Up Regularly

In all your correspondence with teachers/instructors – be it in person or via letter or email – ask them to respond promptly to your request so you’ll have enough time to prepare and complete an alternative project. If you get a noncommittal or negative response, take your request to the department head, principal or dean.

 

Organize Others

Start a short and simple petition supporting the use of dissection alternatives and collect as many signatures as possible from students, parents, and teachers/ instructors. Use school media, such as the newspaper, TV or radio station, as resources for educating the campus about the ethical issues surrounding dissection. Initiate a discussion about dissection and student choice at student government or science club meetings. You may also wish to organize like-minded students to go to your teacher/ instructor/ department head as a group. There is something to be said for strength in numbers, and presenting objections to dissection as a united front may have a more powerful impact than as an individual.

 

Get Legal Advice

The NAVS Dissection Hotline has had great success in negotiating with educational institutions regarding alternatives to dissection. However, if you want legal advice or need to take legal action to defend your right to object to dissection, the NAVS Dissection Hotline 1-800-922-FROG (3764) – will direct you to an attorney organization that specializes in animal issues.

 

Maximum Tolerated Dose






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© 2013 National Anti-Vivisection Society is a
501(c)3 non-profit organization
53 West Jackson Blvd., Suite 1552
Chicago, IL 60604
(800) 888-NAVS or (312) 427-6065
Fax: (312) 427-6524
navs@navs.org
© 2013 National Anti-Vivisection Society is a
501(c)3 non-profit organization