The United States military has a long history of conducting cruel animal experiments.
Each year, approximately 342,000 primates, dogs, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, cats, and other animals are hurt and killed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in experiments that rank among the most painful conducted in this country. The cost to taxpayers for these military experiments is estimated to be in excess of $225 million annually.
Military testing is classified "top secret," and it is very hard to get information about it. From published research, we do know that armed forces facilities all over the United States test all manner of weaponry on animals, from Soviet AK-47 rifles to biological and chemical warfare agents to nuclear blasts.
These experiments can be painful, repetitive, costly, and unreliable, and they are particularly wasteful because most of the effects they study can be, or have already been, observed in humans or because the results cannot be extrapolated to human experience.
Burns and Blasts
As far back as in 1946, near the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific, 4,000 sheep, goats, and other animals loaded onto a boat and set adrift were killed or severely burned by an atomic blast detonated above them. The military nicknamed the experiment "The Atomic Ark."
At the Army's Fort Sam Houston, live rats were immersed in boiling water for 10 seconds, and a group of them were then infected on parts of their burned bodies. In 1987, at the Naval Medical Research Institute in Maryland, rats' backs were shaved, covered with ethanol, and then "flamed" for 10 seconds.
In 1988, at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, sheep were placed in a loose net sling against a reflecting plate, and an explosive device was detonated 19 meters away. In two of the experiments, 48 sheep were blasted: the first group to test the value of a vest worn during the blast and the second to see if chemical markers would aid in the diagnosis of blast injury (they did not).
At the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Maryland, nine rhesus monkeys were strapped into chairs and exposed to total-body irradiation. Within two hours, six of the nine were vomiting, hypersalivating, and chewing. In another experiment, 17 beagles were exposed to total-body irradiation, studied for one to seven days, and then killed. The experimenter concluded that radiation affects the gallbladder.
At Brooks Air Force Base in Texas, rhesus monkeys were strapped to a B-52 flight simulator (the "Primate Equilibrium Platform"). After being prodded with painful electric shocks to learn to "fly" the device, the monkeys were irradiated with gamma rays to see if they could hold out "for the 10 hours it would take to bomb an imaginary Moscow." Those hit with the heaviest doses vomited violently and became extremely lethargic before being killed.
To evaluate the effect of temperature on the transmission of the dengue 2 virus, a mosquito-transmitted disease that causes fever, muscle pain, and rash, experimenters at the U.S. Army at Fort Detrick in Maryland shaved the stomachs of adult rhesus monkeys and then attached cartons of mosquitoes to their bodies to allow the mosquitoes to feed.
Experimenters at Fort Detrick have also invented a rabbit-restraining device that consists of a small cage that pins the rabbits down with steel rods while mosquitoes feast on their bodies.
The Department of Defense has operated "wound labs" since 1957 to train medics and soldiers in how to treat traumatic injuries. At these sites, animals―who are sometimes conscious or semiconscious―are suspended from slings and shot with high-powered weapons to inflict battle-like injuries for military surgical practice. In 1983, in response to public pressure, Congress limited the use of dogs and cats in these training exercises. PETA is now demanding that the military stop shooting, burning, mutilating, poisoning, and killing thousands of goats, pigs, and monkeys in similar exercises every year.
In 2006, a Navy corpsman told The New York Times that instructors "shot [his pig] twice in the face with a 9-millimeter pistol, and then six times with an AK-47 and then twice with a 12-gauge shotgun. And then he was set on fire."
In 2008, the San Antonio Express-News described a trauma course in which 990 living goats had their legs broken and amputated: "Instructor Armand Fermin places a tree trimmer over a joint in the leg, closes it, applies pressure and a 'crack' echoes inside the dimly lit tent at Fort Sam Houston."
Internal military documents obtained by PETA through Freedom of Information Act requests show that monkeys were exposed to chemical-weapon nerve-agent stimulants, after which an Army medic compared his monkey's apparently painful reaction during the exercise to "a chiwawa [sic] shitting razor blades."
Learn more about what PETA is doing to end these trauma and chemical casualty training exercises.
In 1992 and again in 1994, doctors with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine testified before Congress on military animal use and worked with the General Accounting Office in an investigation of Michael Carey's experiments at Louisiana State University. Carey shot 700 restrained cats in the head to "model" human injuries. As a result of the investigation, Carey's cat-shooting experiments were halted. Other forms of military experiments include subjecting animals to decompression sickness, weightlessness, drugs and alcohol, smoke inhalation, and pure oxygen inhalation.
The armed forces conscript various animals into intelligence and combat service, sending them on "missions" that endanger their lives and well-being. The Marine Corps teaches dogs "mauling, snarling, sniffing, and other suitable skills" needed to search for bombs and drugs.
A series of Navy tests of underwater explosives in the Chesapeake Bay in 1987 killed more than 3,000 fish, and the habitats of hundreds of species have been destroyed by nuclear tests in the South Pacific and the American Southwest.
The military's publicly accessible tracking system lists approximately 11,127 military experiments using animals that were conducted from 1998 to 2006. Such tests are as scientifically misleading as they are cruel. And animals have no stake in our human wars; why should they suffer just because humans do? All nations must reject chemical, biological, and ballistic weapons tests on animals and come together for the peaceful purpose of condemning and demanding an end to this form of violence masquerading as science.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.