Culpeper County, C. Va. – This story starts with a teacher announcing there will be cat dissections in anatomy class and a student refusing it. The story ends with the student home-schooling and the mother promoting a petition to stop this practice in every school in the county.
To be perfectly honest I cannot understand what benefits a school thinks it has to open an animal in a high school class. How many of the high school students will end up studying medicine, veterinary or biology at college? I’m sure it is not the majority. If there is a real need to learn about the body organs at that level is for those professions, not for high school students.
But this is not only because of the pertinence of opening a body that has been filled with preservatives and won’t actually show the organs how they really look like. This is an ethical issue as well. Where are these animals coming from? Are they euthanized cats from high-kill shelters? Are they stray cats picked up from the streets? Are they stolen pets that are sold cheaper than the cats sold by the official biological supplies? Do we actually believe there is not a black market for this? What are we encouraging by allowing this practice?
Having so many alternatives to dissections like computer or online simulations, 3D models, videos and virtual dissections; is it really necessary to open an animal at a high school level?
Tamira Thayne and her 16-year old daughter, Brynnan Grimes certainly don’t think so. When Brynnan told her teacher she is a cat lover and didn’t want to dissect a cat that will remind her of her own, this is what the teacher answered: “If you have a black cat just pick a white cat to dissect”. Was this supposed to change how it may feel like for Brynnan to open an animal that looks like the one she cuddles with?
This happened at Culpeper County High School in Central Virginia and when the issue reached higher authorities, this is where Culpeper County Public Schools stand according to Rob Hauman – the executive director of curriculum and instruction:
“Our Honors Human Anatomy and Physiology course does involve animal dissection, including the dissection of cats purchased from a scientific materials vendor. This part of the lab experience has been taking place for many years and, to our knowledge, without complaint from students or parents. Our Veterinary Science course has also used cats in the past.
The course in question is an elective course. The teacher’s opening letter/course syllabus explains that dissections will take place and that, per VDOE guidelines, alternatives for students who do not wish to participate, shall be provided. This is an elective class that students take by choice and, if they choose not to participate any dissection, we provide an alternative as required by the guidelines”
According to Tamira Thayne, even if this is an elective course and even if there are alternatives for the students that don’t want to dissect the cats, encouraging cat dissection in high school is definitely not sending a good message. Cats are companion animals and many of the students may have at least one at home. This event can cause them great psychological pain.
After finding out the school was not going to give in, she decided to support her daughter’s right to refuse this practice and pulled her out. Now Brynnan is home-schooling and Tamira started a petition to stop this practice. Her first goal is her daughter’s school district but she won’t stop there. In a month she has already collected over 105,000 signatures.
If you think Culpeper County Public Schools should ban cat dissection in their classroom you can sign the petition following this link. The goal is to stop it all over the US but for that you have to start somewhere.
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