n. [vi-və-ˈsek-shən]

1. The cutting of or operation on a living animal usually for physiological or pathological investigation; broadly: animal experimentation especially if considered to cause distress to the subject.

2. Minute or pitiless examination or criticism

~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary

 Vivisection Does Not Work

“The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse. We have cured mice of cancer for decades and it simply doesn’t work in humans.”
Dr. Richard Klausner, Director of the National Cancer Institute

Animal models are not predictive models for humans. Though there are many structural and physiological similarities between humans and other animals, the differences are profound. These differences mean that sometimes experiments yield results that make it appear as if a treatment will not work in humans when it actually will. Other times treatments that work in animal models do not actually work in humans.

A number of studies find that animal models fall short for predicting human outcomes. Research by Drs. Niall Shank, Ray Greek, and Jean Greek, examining whether animal models are predictive of human outcomes, states: “When one empirically analyzes animal models using scientific tools they fall far short of being able to predict human responses.” Another study found that publication bias, or the tendency only to publish positive findings, accounts for up to one-third of the reported efficacy of animal models. Even considering this, the study found that there is still a sizeable lack of translation in published research from animal models to human clinical trials due to “methodological flaws in animal studies, leading to systematic bias … inadequate data and incorrect conclusions about efficacy.” Some key differences are that humans, in general, have a longer life span than other animals, they metabolize substances differently, and are exposed to a multitude of different environmental factors which means that they contract diseases and other ailments differently.

Vivisection is Avoidable

“During my medical education I found vivisection horrible, barbarous and above all unnecessary.”
Carl Jung, MD

New knowledge about genes, much of it garnered as a result of the Human Genome Project, has significantly reinforced empirical evidence as to why animals cannot be used to predict human response to drugs or the progression of human diseases. Dr. Anderegg, from the Yale University School of Medicine, explains, “It is impossible to predict human reactions to drugs, vaccines and other chemicals by testing them on animals.” Luckily, there are alternatives available that have shown to be more reliable than animal models.

Human-based DNA/genetic research through projects such as The Humane Genome Project provide more accurate information. Other techniques include, but are not limited to, human-based clinical research and case studies, epidemiological studies, cellular and molecular biology using human-based tissue and cell cultures, and in vitro research, autopsy research, biopsy research, computer models using virtual reality, simulators and 3D programs, and mathematical models using formulas to determine drug concoctions and reactions.

John Hopkins University hosts a website for research professionals called Altweb, which includes a database of alternatives to animal models that are available and details as to what diseases, behaviors, and outcomes each can be used for.  Professionals have choices—animal models are not only ineffective research models, but better models are available.

Vivisection is Bad for Human Health

“The real choice is not between dogs and children, it is between good science and bad science; between methods that directly relate to humans and those that do not.”
Robert Sharpe, Ph.D.

The secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Michael O. Leavitt, states it plainly: “Currently, nine out of 10 experimental drugs fail in clinical studies because we cannot accurately predict how they will behave in people based on laboratory and animal studies.”

More than 2 million people in the US alone have an adverse drug reaction using drugs that have been tested on animals. More than 100,000 of these per year are fatal. Adverse drug reactions are one of the leading causes of death in the US. Approximately 1.5 million people each year (4,000 per day) are hospitalized due to adverse drug reactions.

Tragedies resulting from experiments on animals include:

  • In the late 1950s and early 1960s, more than 10,000 children in 46 countries were born with deformities as a consequence of thalidomide use. Experiments on animals had indicated that the drug was safe.
  • Radial keratotomy, a surgery to improve eyesight, was first tested and proven safe on rabbits. Because of important differences in rabbit and human corneas that researchers failed to take into account, the first human patients were rendered blind.
  • The first rabies and polio vaccines worked well on animals but crippled or killed the people who were given them.
  • The introduction of penicillin was delayed many years as animal testing had showed it to be ineffective.

Learn more about failed experiments here.

 The vivisection industry is funded with federal tax dollars. This means everyone pays for it, even though better, more cost effective methods exist. So why does experimentation on animals persist? Because it makes money—the pharmaceutical industry has created a market for cages, animal breeding, medical supplies, restraint devices, and killing implements for nonhuman animals. This has solidified the market for experiments on animals and has made it the “norm” such that not only pharmaceutical companies, but also contract research facilities and academic researchers, have come to rely on animal models as the norm as well.

 Vivisection is Ethically Wrong

“I abhor vivisection. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty.”
Charles W. Mayo, MD (son of Dr. Charles W. Mayo, founder of the top-ranked Mayo Clinic)


All animals, regardless of species, have the ability to think, feel, and suffer. All animals will move away from pain and life-threatening situations in order to live. They do not “sacrifice” themselves to us willingly. Animals should not be viewed as resources or products but as fellow living beings who share our planet and have the desire and right to live free from inflicted pain, torture, suffering, isolation, forced breeding, exploitation, captivity, and murder. As humans we have the unique ability to impose our will on nature, and it is our ethical duty to choose compassion over cruelty.

Many people assume that animals used in experiments are treated well, but that is not the case. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the only law to protect these animals. This law provides very few protections. It is so weak, in fact, that over 90% of animals who are used in research have no protection under this law. The AWA’s definition of “animal” does NOT include any of the following types of animals: rats, mice, birds, chickens, amphibians, invertebrates, or fish, among others. This means that there is no official record of how many of these animals are used in experiments and there are no laws to dictate the minimum standard of treatment for these animals.

It is simply wrong to use animals as if they are research tools, especially in the face of evidence that they are not predictive research models.