Skip to Main Content

Animal Testing 101

Right now, millions of miceratsrabbitsprimatescatsdogs, and other animals are locked inside barren cages in laboratories across the country. They languish in pain, suffer from extreme frustration, ache with loneliness, and long to be free.

Instead, all they can do is sit and wait in fear of the next terrifying and painful procedure that will be performed on them. The complete lack of environmental enrichment and the stress of their living situation cause some animals to develop neurotic types of behavior such as incessantly spinning in circles, rocking back and forth, pulling out their own fur, and even biting themselves. They shake and cower in fear whenever someone approaches, and their blood pressure spikes dramatically. After enduring a life of pain, loneliness, and terror, almost all of them will be killed.

There are many non-animal test methods that can be used in place of tests on animals. Not only are these non-animal tests more humane, they also have the potential to be cheaper, faster, and more relevant to humans.

While some of the experimentation conducted on animals today is required by law, most of it is not. In fact, a number of countries have implemented bans on the testing of certain types of products on animals, such as the cosmetics testing bans in the European Union, India, and Israel.

Millions of Animals Suffer and Die in Testing, Training, and Other Experiments

More than 100 million animals suffer and die in the U.S. every year in cruel chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics tests as well as in medical training exercises and curiosity-driven medical experiments at universities. Animals also suffer and die in classroom biology experiments and dissection, even though modern non-animal tests have repeatedly been shown to have more educational value, save teachers time, and save schools money. Exact numbers aren’t available because mice, rats, birds, and cold-blooded animals—who make up more than 99 percent of animals used in experiments—are not covered by even the minimal protections of the Animal Welfare Act and therefore go uncounted.

Examples of animal tests include forcing mice and rats to inhale toxic fumes, force-feeding dogs pesticides, and dripping corrosive chemicals into rabbits’ sensitive eyes. Even if a product harms animals, it can still be marketed to consumers. Conversely, just because a product was shown to be safe in animals does not guarantee that it will be safe to use in humans.

Taxpayer and Health Charities’ Dollars Fund Experiments on Animals

Animals are also used in toxicity tests conducted as part of massive regulatory testing programs that are often funded by U.S. taxpayers’ money. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Toxicology Program, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are just a few of the government agencies that subject animals to crude, painful tests.

The federal government and many health charities waste precious dollars from taxpayers and generous donors on animal experiments at universities and private laboratories instead of on promising clinical, in vitro, epidemiological, and other non-animal studies that are actually relevant to humans.

What You Can Do

Each of us can help prevent animal suffering and deaths by buying cruelty-free products, donating only to charities that don’t experiment on animals, requesting alternatives to animal dissection, demanding the immediate implementation of humane, effective non-animal tests by government agencies and corporations, and calling on our alma maters to stop experimenting on animals.

With the help of our members and supporters, PETA campaigns globally to expose and end the use of animals in experiments. Some of our efforts include the following:

This multifaceted approach yields scores of victories for animals imprisoned in laboratories every year.

Browse cruelty-free companies and products.