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On The Origin of Species Kids Dissect

Buffy’s comment on yesterday’s "Blood and Guts" course post asks about the origin of the over six million animals that are dissected in the classroom. I just happened to have received a letter about this very topic earlier this week from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. They’ve done all the research already, and it’s all in one tidy package. Without further ado, I bring you the easiest-to-write post of my Animal Person career, taken directly from that mailing.

Millions of animals are trapped or bred every year for the sole purpose of being dissected. At every step in the process–in the ways they are collected, raised, transported, handled, and killed–they suffer. And then they’re dismembered in our nation’s classrooms. It’s a lesson in cruelty.

When the animals are  not bred or caught for the purpose of dissection, their bodies or body parts are acquired in equally cruel ways. Often, the waste products of slaughtered animals are sold by callous meat and fur manufacturers looking for even greater profits. Organs from cows and pigs used in dissection are obtained from animals who spend their entire lives on factory farms, crowded together in filthy conditions, often unable to move or see daylight. Some are even injected with formaldehyde while they are still alive.

Without knowing it, students and teachers are subsidizing industries that make fortunes on animal cruelty. And because our tax dollars are paying for it, so are we.

To educate your local superintendent, your principal, your teacher, and the many grown-ups around you who all dissected animals when they were in school and probably have no idea that there are efficient, effective, low-cost alternatives, write a letter voicing your opposition to animal dissection. A sample letter can be found at

Some people simply haven’t thought about this issue enough and accept dissection as necessary because somebody told them it was. Educate yourself and formulate your own mini-presentation so that wherever you are, you can help others and put an end to dissection in your school.

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