NIU Student Committee for Animal Welfare educates on animal rights and exploitation

By Mark Gates

Imagine that you are put into a box with only your head sticking out. A lab worker puts clips on your eyelids to keep them open. He puts a chemical in your eyes with a dropper. You don’t know what it is. The pain starts immediately. You cry out as your eyes start to bleed, but no one helps you. You feel your neck breaking as you struggle to get out of the box. This only adds to the pain. You are too insane with pain to realize that you can no longer see.

Don’t worry, the previous senario will probably never happen to you, a human. However, this is often the fate of animals born into the sterile world of the laboratory. Such abuses have animal rights supporters enraged.

NIU students Tara Moyle and Jeff Smolla are trying to put an end to needless animal suffering. They are co-presidents of SCAW, the Student Committee for Animal Welfare, which meets Wednesdays at 9:00 in the Holmes Student Center.

The purpose of SCAW is “to educate people on the abuses of animals, and animal exploitation,” Moyle said. SCAW opposes the abuse of animals in the fur industry, “factory farming” and product testing.

Moyle got involved in the animal rights movement when she was a teenager and was outraged by what she learned about animal experiments. Smolla said he got involved in the movement after reading “philosophically sound” animal rights literature. “I saw the light,” he said.

Animal abuse is “very prevalent” in America, Moyer said. She attributes the abuse to a lack of awarness on the part of the public. “People have been brought up with (the belief) that animals are on this earth for one purpose; that we can use them however we wish to use them.” Moyer said that people must speak out for animals who have no voice.

Moyle, who is a vegetarian, said eating animals is the most common form of abuse. The public does not realize the conditions that animals raised for the purpose of consumption endure. For example, chickens are often jammed together into cages two feet wide, she said. Chickens often suffer psychological damage and claustrophobia under such conditions, she said. Male chickens are usually killed at birth, she said.

In a “complete lack of empathy”, food companies tell their employees to think of the animals as machines. Consumption of animals is also bad for mankind, she said. Resources used to raise animals, could be used by people.

According to “Diet For A New America”, a book by John Robbins, more than half of all water used in the United States goes to livestock production. The book also states that it takes 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat, but it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat.

Moyle said another form of abuse is animal experiments, the results which are “invalid.” She said companies can use human or computer models, egg membranes, bacterial cells and other high-tech meathods instead of using animals in experiments.

The experiments using animals are invalid because the human body is not the same as that of a lab animal, she said. “We have two legs, they have four legs. The heart pumps the blood through the body in different ways.”

One “old and out-dated” method of animal testing is the Draize test, which test products by putting them into the eyes of confined rabbits, she said.

According to literature by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Draize Irritancy Test has been the standard test for substances which might get into the human eye since 1944.

Another test that kills millions of animals a year is the LD50 test which measures the amount of a chemical that will kill half of the animals in a test group with a single dose, she said. The LD50 and Draize tests are needlessly repeated because competing companies do not share findings, she said.

Legally, animals are supposed to be given a certain amount of anaesthesia. However, companies can get around the law by saying that the animals’ pain is a necessary part of the experiment, she said.

According to PETA literature, cosmetic and product animal testing is not required by the FDA. The tests are determined by the manufactures.

Even in the manufacture of harmless school supplies, animals are alledgely abused. Gillette testing labs inject Papermate and other products into the eyes and stomachs of rabbits, according to the “PETA News”.

Despite SCAW’s concern for animals, Moyle said human and animal lives are connected, but not equal. “We don’t want to give dogs the right to vote,” she said.

SCAW plans to spread its message to the NIU community. It will sponsor the second “Illinois Animal Rights Convention” at NIU. Last year SCAW sponsored a vegetatian Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless, and may do so again this year. It also plans to have animal rights speakers come to campus, and will distribute literature.

Although SCAW’s purpose is to oppose all forms of animal abuse, Moyer said people concerned about a specific form of abuse are welcome to attend meetings.