An Open Letter to the Frog I Dissected in High School

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3 min read

Dear Frog,

I’m writing to ask for your forgiveness for what I did to you when I was in high school. I’m sorry for everything. So sorry.

Frog with green background

I don’t know where you came from, but now I know that you were forced to endure the terror of being snatched from your home. I can’t begin to imagine how frightening that was for you. I didn’t realize that millions of frogs are taken from their natural habitat every year, to never again experience raindrops on their skin or lily pads beneath their feet. Then they’re killed and pumped full of chemicals so kids can dissect them.

Even as a child, I knew that animal dissection was wrong. I should have spoken out in your behalf.

If only I had known that many states—including the one where I attended high school—have dissection-choice policies requiring that schools provide students with a humane alternative to dissection, I would have opted out.

What did I learn from the experience?

I learned that some people believe that your life didn’t matter. What a dangerous lesson to teach an impressionable child, especially considering rampant bullying and disturbing cases of young people abusing animals. Schools should be promoting compassion, including teaching kids that dissecting a once-living being is wrong.

I learned to be afraid—afraid to speak up about something that I didn’t feel comfortable doing because of the possibility of being ridiculed or ostracized by my teachers and peers. Looking back now, I realize that the classmates I admire and respect the most are the ones who had the courage to speak up about what was right.

I learned that you felt cold to the touch, that straw-colored liquid spilled from your lifeless body when I cut into you, and that death smells terrible. Really terrible.

I don’t remember what your organs looked like—only that they all had the same gray hue, which wouldn’t have been the way they looked when you were alive.

I learned that your anatomy is very different from mine. Your heart, lungs, and digestive system are all found in one single hollow space. Mine are housed in three distinct cavities. Your heart has three chambers. Mine has four. Your eggs are fertilized externally. Mine are fertilized internally. Oh, and you can breathe through your skin. I wish I could do that!

I still don’t understand the purpose of dissecting animals. I likely never will.

There are lots of modern, educationally superior, and humane replacements to animal dissection, including SynFrog, biosphera, eMind, and Froggipedia. Students prefer these options, and according to studies, they learn better using these methods than by cutting up dead animals. It’s no wonder: Non-animal methods enable students to review the material as many times as they need until they feel confident.

student's hands dissecting a SynFrog in a pan

You helped me realize that my life doesn’t matter more than yours did. That gave me the courage to do the right thing years later, when I studied veterinary technology. During anatomy class, the professor instructed us to perform a cervical dislocation—severing the spinal cord from the brain—on a living mouse, and I refused. I spoke out in behalf of the mouse. I opted out. And you know what? I still passed the class with flying colors.

I wish I could go back and undo what I did to you. I appreciate the preciousness of your life and the significance of treating all sentient beings with respect and kindness. I’m committed to making amends for my past behavior by always honoring the valuable lesson that you taught me.

Through new eyes,


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