Many of Drake's first-year pharmacy students have second thoughts about dissection - especially if they've just been told that their family cat, who "ran away" a few years ago, might be laying on the table in front of them.
Dissection can be traced back to as early as second century Rome. At the time, the Roman Catholic Church issued a decree prohibiting human autopsy, giving rise to the dissection of other animals for medical purposes. In the 1960s, the Association for Biomedical Research promoted the use of physiologically complex animals. This increased the use of animals with intricate anatomies, such as cats.
In today's society, 100,000 cats are dissected in classrooms across the country every year. The use of cats is popular in dissection due to anatomical similarities they have with humans. Cats are also significantly less expensive and easier to store than actual cadavers. The average price of a cat is thirty dollars but prices vary for pregnant and already skinned cats.
High schools as well as colleges often purchase cats from large biological supply companies. However, extensive investigations by PETA and other animal rights groups have revealed gross negligence in these companies. Their documented evidence has shown that cats (often stolen from people's backyards) are gassed, poisoned or beaten to death at the different supply houses such as the Carolina Biological Supply House. Investigations have also shown cats being injected with formaldehyde without first being checked for vital signs, causing still-live cats an excruciatingly painful death. This is a violation of the Animal Rights Welfare Act.
While the practice of dissecting cats is commonplace in the United States, many countries are opposed to it. The dissection of cats in schools is forbidden in the United Kingdom. Countries such as Switzerland, Norway, India, Argentina, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Denmark all prohibit feline dissection below the university level.
"I just can't understand why, with all of the technology we have, there is not a better way to learn anatomy,"ÃÂ said pharmacy student Shilpa Shah (PH1). As the number of students who are opposed to dissection grows, so do the alternatives to it. There are many other ways to work around the actual dissection of the animal. The National Vivesection Society (www.navs.org) as well as many other companies sell life-size models and CD-ROMs that are available for almost any animal species (sharks, rats, starfish, even insects).
Not all students have issues with dissection. " I don't mind dissecting animals as long as it's the best way to learn about the human body," says pharmacy student Ellen Ghisolf (PH1). She isn't alone, as thousands of students every year pass through biology without lodging any formal complaints. Although Drake has not received many complaints, larger universities receive many complaints. Although dissection benefits science, it is important to keep this quote in mind: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."ÃÂ -Mahatma Gandhi