Orange County Voices : COMMENTARIES...

Ava Park is an Orange County businesswoman and founder of Orange County People for Animals, an animal rights group

From the beginning, we humans have struggled to understand the world, and those who could profit from our ignorance blocked any change in the status quo that challenged their power, position and profit.

We believed for millennia that the world was flat. Over the last 300 years, another big lie has developed. Once again, those who profit don't want to see the lie challenged. That lie is the belief that vivisection--using animals in research--will somehow cure all human illness. The immense vivisection industry is built around obtaining grant money, your tax dollars, for veterinary experiments to produce, in part, billions of dollars' worth of new drugs to pump into our very sick nation. We dump $600 billion a year into the treatment of the symptoms of disease (not prevention!), yet diabetes, birth defects, auto-immune diseases and overall cancer rates are all on the rise, and heart disease kills almost one million people a year.

If vivisection works, why are we so sick? Actual cures are not coming from vivisection. Re-creating the symptoms of cancer, or any other disease, in a healthy animal and then attempting to eliminate the symptoms in that animal will not solve human health problems. Most of today's diseases are lifestyle, diet and environmentally related. We cannot smoke, drink alcohol, take drugs, eat huge quantities of animal fat, get little or no exercise, and generally live lives racked by unnatural levels of stress . . . then run to our doctor for the next quick-fix miracle drug.

The fundamental premise of vivisection is false: that animals are the same as humans and react in the same ways. They are not and do not.

In fact, "species specificity" is the term animal experimenters use themselves to describe how differently each species reacts to each drug or surgery. Penicillin is a wonder drug for humans, yet it is fatal to guinea pigs. Aspirin is safe in humans, yet fatal to cats. The list goes on and on. Many drugs and surgical techniques were abandoned initially because they failed on an animal model. The reverse is true: Many drugs tested on animals appear to be safe for us. Only when the human health toll becomes too great to ignore are the drugs recalled, with much less fanfare than when they were announced!

A large percentage of vivisection does not even pretend to work for specific human health advances and is called "basic research," such as the type that is being performed for grant money at our own University of California at Irvine. "Basic research" often does not even attempt to make any human connection, but is simply devoted to gathering bits of information, however useless. There is a human benefit here, though--basic research provides individual vivisectors with lifelong, very lucrative careers!

Vivisectors threaten us with, "Your baby or your dog!" But in fact, it is both, for when they have finished with the dog, they still have no certain idea what will happen to a human with the same procedure. Only when the drug is given or the surgery performed on the first human, do we discover the human consequences.

So what to do? Replacement technologies are available now that provide solid information applicable to people: epidemiological studies, in vitro and clinical research and computer modeling, to name a few.

The human cost of vivisection is sickness and misdirected money, time and effort. And what of the cost to the non-humans who share our planet? Billions of animals have been burned, electrocuted, crushed, addicted to drugs, poisoned and tormented in psychological testing.

You should see a helpless dog trapped in a metal restraining device, crying out, trying to escape, licking the hand of his tormentor in a pathetic appeal to stop the pain . . . as the vivisector sends the next bolt of electricity through his brain. I have seen this, and I am ashamed to belong to a species in which some members make careers out of deliberately inflicting this horror on other living beings.

I am not alone. Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Mayo, Albert Schweitzer, Socrates, Mark Twain, and Galileo, were all antivivisectionists. As Thomas Edison said, "Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages."

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