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Animal Uses

Animal Uses

Animal Uses




EPQ Title: "To What Extent Should Animals be Used by Humans"

Year: 2016



I have always been passionate about animals and I selected this topic (“To What Extent Should Animals be Used by Humans”) for my EPQ in order to explore and broaden my understanding about the controversial areas of animal welfare, such as animal ethics and people's attitudes towards animals.

To support my research into animal welfare I felt it was necessary to explore the history of animal use, changes in the law that represent the human conscience and the diversity of how animals are used in our society. It was also important to test the opinions of my friends, family and other students at my college on their attitudes towards animals and their welfare.  To this end I developed two online questionnaires. One of these online questionnaires required a password and was confined only to students attending my sixth form college. The other questionnaire, which included the same range of questions and options, was made public. This second questionnaire included a supplementary question to test if views on animal welfare might be swayed by reading a statement of fact about animal research.

My case study and visit to Redbridge Training Centre has been amended online to protect the identities of staff and dog owners. This visit provided a valuable opportunity for me to meet a guide dog owner and their canine companion, the trainers and to find out more about the valuable and exceptional work of the Guide Dog Association. This visit answered many questions that I have always wanted to ask, such as: how does a guide dog know where to lead their owner, can a guide dog determine a better route of travel without human instruction and can a blind person be assigned a guide dog if they are allergic to dog hair?

The considerable value of a well trained service dog was also highlighted by reading ‘A Dog Called Hope’ by Jason Morgan.  This is a moving story about Jason Morgan, a US soldier in the Special Forces, who is seriously injured during a mission. The recovery from his injuries is painful with bouts of depression and thoughts of suicide until he was introduced to Napal, a black Labrador, that has been specially trained to be an assistance animal for Jason. The companionship and bond that forms between him and Napal changes his life giving it meaning and hope.

All too often our attitudes towards sensitive subjects, such as the use of animals in experiments by the pharmaceutical industry, are manipulated by controversial stories in the media. I admit that I have a tendency to discount any experimentation on living animals and assume that man’s greatest scientific achievements in this industry could have been achieved in a petri dish or by some other means. I wanted to explore this area and understand some of the ideas that support each side of the argument.

The reliance of Homo sapiens on animals is diverse and critical to the survival of its species. The relationship between man and animals is not co-dependent for a balanced environment and ecosystem in regard to the production of nitrogen and methane. Life on Earth could continue to exist without Homo sapiens, - but not vice versa because the biomass of humans is negligible in comparison to all animal life.

The ways in which animals support human existence include: source of food, clothing (e.g. leather shoes, wool), milk, pharmaceutical products (e.g. heparin from ox lungs and pig intestines), social interaction and entertainment (e.g. pets, zoos, horse racing and circuses), agricultural cultivation (e.g. production of manure to improve soil fertility), medical testing (including vivisection), work (e.g. truffle-hunting pigs, guide dogs for the blind) and transport. This website includes a couple of exceptional videos that demonstrate the use of specially trained rodents to locate the position of land mines and identify TB infected sputum.

Scope of EPQ

This essay focuses on those familiar areas of animal use that are especially controversial and often debated in the media. ie:

  • Pharmaceutical industry,
  • Animal testing,
  • Work & transport and
  • Entertainment / social support.

My essay will also confine its reference to the use of mammals only.

Essay / Website Chapters

Chapter 1 – Introduction / Scope of Study

Chapter 2 – Early History of Animal Use

  • Animals used as a Source of Food
  • Domestication of Animals
  • Animal Testing
  • Service Animals

Chapter 3 – Legal Considerations.  The Human Conscience

  • Laws Protecting Animal Welfare in the UK
  • The Protection of Animals Act 2011
  • Animal Welfare Act 2006
  • The Laws Protecting Animals Used for Research, including Vivisection
  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)

Chapter 4 – Ethics of Animal Use

  • Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare
  • Animal Rights versus Human Rights.
  • How do we decide which animals have rights and what are those rights?
  • Speciesism
  • Objective Measurements of Animal Well-Being
  • Example of the arguments for using animals:
  • Circus Entertainment

Chapter 5 – Case Study – Visit to Redbridge Training Centre for Guide Dogs

  • The Training of Guide Dogs.
  • Tony – Guide Dog Owner

Chapter 6 – Book Review:  ‘A Dog Called Hope’ by Jason Morgan

Chapter 7 – Website Questionnaires

  • Two Online Questionnaires (Public and Localised)
  • Results

Chapter 8 – Conclusion

Appendix (1) – Categorisation of Animal Use

  • (A) Working Animals
  • (1) Service Animals (Helping People with Disabilities)
  • (2) Draft Animals (provide tractive force,)
  • (3) Harness Animals (Carry loads on their backs)
  • (4) Riding animals or mounts
  • (3) Miscellaneous
  • (4) Hunting Animals
  • (5) Multiple Uses:
  • (B) Animals for Food Consumption
  • (C) Animals for Experimentation (Figures for the UK)

Appendix (2) – Domestication of Animals

Appendix (3) – Incidence of Polio 1912 to 2000 + Mortality / ENGLAND

  • Appendix (4) – Definitions
  • Working Animal:
  • Service Animal:
  • Pack Animal
  • Draft Animal (draught animals / Beasts of Burden):
  • Livestock
  • Service Animal
  • Domestication
  • Ethics
  • Sentience

Appendix (5) – Slaughter Statistics UK – 12  Month Period

Appendix (6) – Questionnaire Results

Appendix (7) – Animal Welfare Organisations in the UK

Appendix (8) – Website

  • Home Page – Introduction / Scope of Study
  • Questionnaire Page
  • Supplementary Online Question
  • Online Questionnaire Feedback – Notification Format