Animal Humane Society position on animals used for education

We believe students of all ages should be provided an education that instills a respect for animals and emphasizes the value of animals as living, sentient creatures who share our world. Educating school children about the wonders of biology is one way to instill an appreciation on the intrinsic value of animals.

In elementary and secondary education we do not support curricula that includes the use of animals for dissection or other activities that may cause harm. Alternatives exist that support education at this level and those should be used.

Where appropriate, alternatives to the use of animals in the classroom, such as computer modeling, should be considered at the undergraduate level and beyond. While there are some alternatives to achieve educational objectives, we believe that there is a place for ethically sourced cadavers.

With appropriate supervision, we support veterinary students working with animals (such as shelter animals) that will benefit from the procedures for practical experience in examinations and surgeries. While we understand and recognize the value of the use of animals for professional education in veterinary, medical and biological careers, we continue to encourage and support alternative methods to the use of animals for dissection or laboratory study. In professional education any use of animals should follow the Three R’s (reduction, refinement or replacement of animal use).

*The principles of the Three Rs – Replacement, Refinement and Reduction are credited to Russell and Burch’s 1959 report “The Principles of Humane Experimental Techniques” and are widely accepted internationally as criteria for humane animal use in research and testing.

  • Reduction - experiments should be designed in such a manner that the least number of the most suitable species are used.
  • Refinement - research animals need to be maintained in a clean environment in which they are humanely cared for before, during and after the procedures.
  • Replacement - animal-based research methods should be replaced when possible with alternative methods, such as mathematical or computer modeling, molecular modeling, organ perfusion, or other methods that allow the attainment of the objectives without having to use animals.

For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

Contact the Pet Helpline