ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION IN LABS, FOR RESEARCH THE SURPRISING REACTIONS OF SOME DOCTORS AND THE LESSONS THEY LEARNED

FROM THE M OST UNLIKELY OF TEACHERS DR. NEAL BARNARD, President of The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine , was part of a group involved in an introductory course in college. Rats were i mplanted with electrodes that were stimulated and the procedure and treatment of the rats was cruel at best. One day Dr Barnard took a rat home from the lab. "Ratsky" lived for some month s in a cage in his bedroom But when he started leaving the cage door open so she could walk around, he bega n to observe things he hadnt anticipated. He wrote in Animal Times: She gradually became more and more friendly. If I was lying on my back reading, she would come and stand on my chest. she would wait to be petted and if i didn t pay her enough attention, she would lightly nip my nose and run away. I knew that her sharp teeth could have gone right through my skin, but she was a lways playfully careful. i realized that rats can be as outgoing and gentle as any person. If not forced to live in an unclean cage, their skin has a distinct perfume like scent. If i left a glass of ice water on the floor for her, she would painstakingly tak e out each ice cube and carry it inch by inch in her teeth away from the glass u ntil all the ice had been cleaned out. One day she labored for hours to pull all my dirty clothes out of a laundry bag. Like a cat, she spent hours carefully grooming herself." One day, Dr. Barnard noticed a lump in Ratsky's skin. no veterenarian would tre at her as she was not a dog, a cat or a suitable animal \ finally a vet did. the lump was a tumor She didnt do too well after the operation because the vet removed her urethra as well as the tumor . Few people could understand Dr. Barnards concern about the suffering of this lit tle mammal "Her suffering was very apparent. At night i slept with her in the palm of my h and so I would wake up if she tried to chew the sutures" Finally she was euthanized. In the months that followed. Dr Barnard began to think about all the other anima ls whose suffering he had taken so dispassionately , and he realized that each o ne was an individual who can suffer as acutely as the little rat whom he had hel d in the palm of his hand. And that suffering was just as real as that of a dog, or a cat, a dolphin.

Cruelty to animals is diagnosed as a psychiatric symptom predictive of antisocia l personality, yet we fail to recognize the cruelties we perpetuate so casually in our own lives. "Not too long ago," Dr,. Barnard said, "my alma mater sent me a survey asking, a mong other things, who had been my most effective teacher. I'm not sure they understood my reply"

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