Animal dissections: one student’s perspective

by Alexs O.

Managing Editor

Each year, more than ten million animals are killed to support classroom dissection, even though modern alternatives have always existed. Animals are not students’ possessions to use. Rats, frogs, pigs, cats, and other animals feel pain and have feelings, just like household pets. Would one dissect the family dog?

Deep down, students should know dissecting animals is wrong. Freshman Aiden Taylor states, “I’ve never been one to dissect. I always have opted out when given the option. I feel way too bad for the poor animal lying there being poked and prodded.” According to the Humane Society’s website,, fetal pigs are cut from the wombs of their mothers who havDissection 2e been killed in slaughterhouses. Before ending up on students’ dissection trays, frogs are forced to live in filthy, cramped conditions. Homeless cats, some of which are people’s lost animal companions, are rumored to be bought from local shelters, if already euthanized, for dissection. Whose best friend is one dissecting? “I’ve always wondered where the animals come from and what life they lead before they were killed,” ponders senior Elizabeth Anderson.

Aside from the moral issues raised, dissection is also bad for the environment.  Frogs are often taken from the wild, which disrupts local ecosystems. Frogs’ main meal is insects, and without them ridding the environment of flies, crickets, and worms, society is sure to have an overpopulation of unwanted insects. Animals are often embalmed using formaldehyde, a toxic chemical that causes cancer (in humans) and pollutes the air. Is this really what we want to expose ourselves to, just in the name of “education”?

As stated as a school policy, violence does not belong in the classroom. In 2009, a Miami, Florida, student was charged with torturing and slaughtering 19 cats. Conveniently, the student had recently dissected a cat at school. Some sources believe that the school-supported dissection promoted this boy to take heinous, illegal actions. Sophomore Daniel Thomas reacts, “Cats?! Who would dissect a cat? That is horrible! I have three of them at home, and they are part of the family.”

In anatomy teachers’ defense, dissection can teach hands-on lessons about the structure and organs of animals. Anatomy teacher Mrs. Laura Cox states, “I am by no means pro-dissection, but I do think it’s necessary for anatomy. Students need to touch, feel, and see the tangible organs that are like their own organs. Also, dissecting is in some cases more cost effective.” While some students do learn better at a hands-on approach and can better understand the organ systems by cutting into animals and physically having tangible evidence right in front of them, animal activists cannot condone dissection.

Dissection teaches students that animals are nothing but classroom tools, like paper and pencils, to be used and thrown away. This is certainly a false sense of reality. There are alternative ways to learn. How can using dead animals teach a clear lesson about life? There are many humane alternatives right at our fingertips. “I would much rather work on a worksheet or web quest in anatomy class rather than dig my scalpel into a once-living creature,” concludes junior Chloe Jackson. Alternatives go far beyond worksheets, as options such as detailed models and dissection videos could provide students with learning the same information they would learn in a hands-on dissection, claims the Humane Society.

Classroom budgets are tight, but using technology-based learning techniques is much cheaper than the costs associated with in-class dissections. Computer programs and worksheets provide valuable information about the anatomical organs and systems of animals. The math is simple: 12 rats, enough for 24 students, costs on average around 100 dollars, according to eNasco Dissection Materials website. Humane alternatives (computer programs, worksheets, etc.) can be reused for years and pay for themselves within one year. Some are even available for free.

In most schools dissection is an option and never has been a requirement; students can typically opt out of doing it. Many states, schools, and teachers give their students the right not to dissect, including WHS, as long as students “observe.”

 Dissection 1

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