Animal Dissection for Education

Categories: AnimalsBiosphere

It was a normal Thursday afternoon. She had just gotten back from school when her mother sat her down on the couch, a serious look on her face. She gave her daughter the devastating news that their dog had run away and was nowhere to be found. Her heart dropped. Immediately, sadness and shock washed over her. Weeks, even months went by, but still no sign of her best friend and loyal companion. Her family never found out what happened to their dog or where it went.

All they knew was the overwhelming sadness that came over them when they returned home from a long day, not to be greeted by their overly affectionate dog. Every year, millions of family pets run away, never to be found. These pets can meet many fates, one of which is being captured by a Class B random source dealer.

These dealers sell innocent family pets to biological supply companies, where the animals will meet cruel, painful deaths such as being dissected or picked apart during high-level education demonstrations.

Animal dissection is a practice that dates back to around 300 B.C. Since the dissection of humans was forbidden at the time, scientists chose to use animals instead. They used animal anatomy to learn more about the human body and how it functioned. Artists also utilized animals to portray their subjects with enhanced accuracy. In the 1500s, dissections were recognized as the best way to teach students about animal anatomy.

By the early 1900s, dissections were performed in just about every biology class in high school and college.

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It was in 1920 that frogs became the most commonly dissected animal, and by 1998, animal dissection took place in 75-80% of high school biology classes (“History of Vivisection”). Now, almost 10 million animals are used in classroom dissections every year (“Animals Used”). This number is number increases each year, but, in contrast, there is a growing number of people that are opposed to the practice. Ultimately, schools should not force students to dissect animals because the practice is unnecessary and unethical.

For many schools, dissections are a critical part of teaching students about animal anatomy, but they are not considering that the practice is unethical and unnecessary. While dissections have lead to many important scientific discoveries in the past, today there are superior alternatives that can teach students just as well, if not better than actual dissections. Some students struggle with the ethicality of classroom dissections and refuse to participate in them. This is when other alternatives are best utilized. According to a study conducted by the International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 81% of teachers use non-animal alternatives to dissections such as computer programs, charts, posters, textbook diagrams, 3D models, and videos (Oakley). There are many benefits of using non-animal alternatives to dissections such as making students feel more comfortable, helping the environment, saving animal lives, and saving money.

For example, schools would save $5,853 to $19,184 by using non-animal alternatives to dissections over the span of three years (“Animal Dissection VS. Non-Animal Alternatives”). Animal dissections are not needed due to superior alternatives. These alternatives provide teachers with a safe, ethical way to teach students about animal anatomy. Many teachers see the benefits of these alternatives, such as low cost and providing help to protect and preserve the environment. As a result, they integrate them into their classrooms. Not only are animal dissections unnecessary, but they are also unethical. The practice of dissection is against some students’ morals. In some cases, if students do not wish to participate in classroom dissections, their grades are threatened. Jennifer Graham, a California high school student, refused to dissect a frog in her science class, despite the fact that her grade would be lowered.

Various animal rights groups supported this decision and encouraged other students to do the same. Because of this incident, the state of California changed their policy to allow students to choose whether or not they participated in classroom dissections or not (“Animal Dissection: Should”). 32 out of 50 states do not give students the option to opt out of classroom dissections and use other alternatives if it’s against their morals (“Student Choice”). Many schools do not see that classroom dissections are unethical and completely unnecessary because of the different alternatives new technology offers. Dissection is also against the morals of some professionals in the scientific field. Some people in the scientific field are opposed to the use of animals for scientific research.

This can cause some very qualified, compassionate people to quit their jobs. Dr. Theodora Capaldo, Chief Executive Officer of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, published a paper about the ethics of the use of animals for education. She stated that some people that are accomplished in the scientific field and sympathetic towards animals could leave their jobs because of their beliefs. These people are usually women, which leads to more men being involved in science (“Animals in Education”). The unsympathetic treatment of animals has left some people in the scientific field feeling like they chose the wrong career. These inhumane practices have led many qualified people to end their careers in science and pursue something else. Ultimately, classroom dissections are unethical and unnecessary and should not be a requirement for students or professionals in the scientific field because it can contradict morals.

Classroom dissections are not only morally wrong, but totally unnecessary due to advancements in technology that include better alternatives to dissections. While dissections do teach students a lot about animal anatomy, they are not needed considering how few students go on to pursue careers in biology as adults. Studies show that only 1% of students will go down this path later in life (“Growing Up: Animal”). Not only are dissections unnecessary, but they are also unethical. Each year, countless animals are killed for the sole purpose of being dissected or used in classroom demonstrations. Even though there are better alternatives to animal dissection, 20 million animals are dissected each year for educational purposes (“Animals in Education”). 50% of those animals are experimented on by medical students and the other 50% are used in classroom dissections (“Animals Used”). Studies also show that in the U.S. in 2014, 50% of adults were opposed to the use of animals for scientific research (“Use of Animals”).

The practice of classroom dissections and demonstrations is unethical because of how many animals are killed and the environmental impacts of these deaths. The amount of animals killed each year could be devastating to some populations and ecosystems. Although dissections kill far too many animals, that is not the only thing that science teachers are concerned about. Performing classroom dissections is risky and comes with many potential problems. Teachers are concerned not only about student safety, but also about the cost and ethics of performing these dissections. 38% of biology teachers said that they are worried about student safety while dissecting animals, especially formaldehyde exposure and bacteria levels. 25% of teachers are worried about students misbehaving and mistreating the animals, 19% of teachers are concerned about the cost of buying the animals, and 18% are worried about the ethicality of the practice (Oakley).

Many teachers ask themselves if the animals they are dissecting came from a credible dealer and if it is completely necessary and justifiable to kill an animal for the sole purpose of scientific research. Taking everything into account, the use of animals for scientific research is unnecessary, unethical, and problematic because there are far better alternatives to dissections due to recent advancements in technology.

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Animal Dissection for Education. (2022, May 26). Retrieved from

Animal Dissection for Education
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