Vail Daily letter: Disturbing lesson
February 1, 2017
I was extremely disturbed, on so many levels, to see fifth graders dissecting fetal pigs in the Vail Daily.
Parents and educators, you are doing your children a great disservice by teaching them that animals are nothing but classroom tools to be used and thrown away. Want to teach them about the sanctity of life? You're not going to do it that way.
Animals feel pain, suffer and desire to live. As people see the right to kill exotic animals for sport, slay elephants to harvest their ivory tusks, we are promoting just another link in the chain by demonstrating that the lives of other species are ours for the taking to do with as we please.
Every year, 10 million-20 million animals are used for educational purposes. They are obtained in numerous ways and suffer immensely as a result of being trapped, transported, confined, experimented on and killed for classroom science exercises. Most are forced to live in horrific conditions until they are killed. Many are family pets who have wandered from home or been bought from shelters and pet stores. Fetal pigs are literally cut out of their mother's stomachs at slaughterhouses and left to die or injected with embalming solution before they are dead.
There are several non-animal teaching methods being developed that have shown themselves to be equal or superior to animal dissection in their ability to provide students with an understanding of anatomy and complex biological processes. They are much less expensive — instead of a constant supply of animals, these software programs are bought only once and last for many years. They allow students to learn at their own pace and redo the lesson as many times as needed. They require no safety lessons, no set-up/clean-up time, no monitoring of misbehavior with scissors and scalpels, no inhalation of formaldehyde, a chemical proven to cause cancer, no expensive hazardous material removal.
Many students have pets of their own at home, considered part of the family and dearly loved. The dichotomy of cutting into an animal in the classroom as opposed to taking care of the dog, cat or guinea pig at home may make them uncomfortable. Most students don't know that they can opt out of participating or even watching animal dissection in the classroom. One of the most important things you can do is to assert your right to an education which does not violate your principles. You have the right to say "no" without being penalized.
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Most of us don't realize that these lessons in treating living beings as disposable objects are being paid for by our taxes. You are funding the suffering of millions of animals when there are other options just as effective, cheaper and will less likely traumatize your children.
Question and challenge your principals, your teachers, take the time to get on the internet and educate yourself on the facts behind animal dissection and the alternatives to it. Is this really something that you are willing to support?
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