Recently, I finished five years of research and writing on a book that deals with the many forms of animal exploitation,* and an entire year of that time was devoted to the chapter on animals used for research. Thoroughly examining this issue – interviewing former vivisectors, talking with undercover investigators, reading peer-reviewed studies – was a gut-wrenching experience, and it showed me just how insidious this practice is. Animals in labs are beaten, burned, and blinded. They are nailed down, tied up, and sliced open. They are starved, suffocated, shaken, and shot. Their organs are pulverized, their limbs are severed, their bodies are irradiated, and their spirits are broken. They are forced to drink alcohol, inhale tobacco smoke, and consume a variety of highly dangerous narcotics, including heroine. Name a modern disease, and they’ve been infected with it. Imagine a torment, and they’ve suffered it.

Portland Animal Defense League

Portland Animal Defense League

While I believe we should focus our energy on this issue year-round, there’s at least one week a year when animal advocates dedicate extra time and effort to campaigning against vivisection. This Sunday marks the beginning of World Week for Animals in Laboratories, an international movement of protests, rallies, demonstrations, marches, candlelight vigils, and media events to raise awareness about animal testing. Indeed, many of these activities will target research facilities and universities.

And lest you think such efforts are wasted, consider that as of March 2013, the import and sale of cosmetic products and ingredients tested on animals has been banned in the UK and all other member states of the European Union. This follows a similar ban in Israel.

Simple ways you can help:

  • Never, ever purchase products tested on animals. Read labels and look for language that indicates the product is free of animal testing. You can also check for the Leaping Bunny logo.
  • Use this opportunity to write a letter to the editor of your local paper urging that society abandon animal testing. Although animal testing is currently required before drugs go to market, no U.S. law dictates that animals should be subjected to torture to test the safety of household products. Click here for tips on getting your letter published. (Even a letter that doesn’t get published is a force for positive change.)
  • Do not donate to charities that test on animals. Click here for more information on charities.
  • Become part of an organized event. To find something in your area, simply go to Facebook and type “World Week for Animals in Laboratories” in the search field at the top.
  • Add a message to your voice mail or email signature that speaks up for animals in labs.
  • Share this article with family and friends.

*Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering should be published around September.