Don’t existing laws ensure that animals in labs are treated humanely?
No. There are no regulations that govern the conduct of an experiment, limits what animals are forced to endure, or prevents the duplication of painful experiments. Animals are routinely infected with diseases they would never normally contract, cut open, burned, starved, driven insane, poisoned, and killed—and it’s all legal. The March of Dimes, a charity that funds animal studies, has paid experimenters to sew cats’ eyes shut for a year and then kill them; keep monkeys in restraints for days at a time; give ferrets and other animals severe brain damage; and addict rats and newborn opossums to alcohol, nicotine, and cocaine. The only federal law that offers any sort of protection for animals in laboratories, the Animal Welfare Act, deals primarily with housekeeping issues, such as cage size.
Even when cages are clean, animals in laboratories are still deprived of everything that makes life worthwhile—the companionship of others of their own kind, fresh air, freedom to run or climb, and the ability to make even the simplest choices about their lives. After months, years, and sometimes decades of being poked and prodded, they die or are killed—hardly an ethical way of treating another sentient being.
To learn more about the lives of these animals, see PETA’s factsheets on Animal Experimentation.