Does Dissection Teach Kids to ‘Devalue Life’?

Published by Paula Moore.
2 min read

After PETA contacted Miami-Dade County, the fourth largest public school district in the U.S., the district made the decision to do right by students and animals and ban cat dissections in favor of modern, humane teaching tools. A resolution passed recently by the Miami–Dade County School Board states that “[w]ith today’s wide range of effective alternatives for studying animal body systems, there is no need to mutilate animals.” The resolution also notes that animal dissections may “encourag[e] students to devalue animal life and treat such as expendable.” The board goes on to cite another case PETA worked on as inspiration for the switch: “Proof of this is that last year a group of students in a top-ranked high school in Oklahoma filmed a video of themselves in their science classroom making cat corpses dance to the rhythm of a cat food commercial theme song, and then posted the video on social media.”

Tabby cat


That now-infamous video, which PETA discovered and released last month, created such a controversy that the school in question, Oklahoma City’s Harding Charter Preparatory High School, indefinitely suspended its cat dissection program.

But this case was hardly the first time that dissection has been shown to foster callousness toward animals. In 2009, PETA urged officials at the prestigious Miami Palmetto Senior High School to end animal dissections after a teen who had participated in cat dissections at the school was arrested and charged in connection with a string of cat mutilations and killings in the South Miami–Dade area. Then in 2010, after a distraught student contacted PETA with disturbing photos of a dead cat being mutilated in an anatomy and physiology class at Miami Coral Park Senior High School, we contacted Miami–Dade district officials. PETA spoke with the school board, donated sophisticated virtual dissection software for the entire district, and funded training for teachers in using non-animal methods—all of which helped to lay the groundwork for the county’s recent decision.

The millions of animals who are used in school dissections every year come from biological supply houses, which breed some animals, capture many in the wild, and obtain others—including lost animal companions—from shelters. These animals suffer tremendously as they are transported, confined, and cruelly killed. You can encourage your school (or your child’s) to join the ranks of Harding Charter, the entire Miami–Dade school district, and other top schools that are banning animal dissections by asking for nonviolent, technologically advanced options.

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