Dear Auntie Viv,
I’m very interested in sanctuaries and how they help animals. But there are so many out there! Can you recommend any? Christy from Beaumont, MN
Thank you for writing, my Dear! It’s sooo nice to hear from folks who love animals just like I do.
Christy, you’re right; there are many, many sanctuaries. There are also places that like to call themselves sanctuaries, but are really roadside zoos. (Ugh!) The good news is there’s an easy peasy way to tell if a sanctuary is legit…find out if it’s been certified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, GFAS for short. They have a long list of sanctuaries that have been accredited on their website: www.sanctuaryfederation.org. Do check it out!
You’ll find GFAS certified sanctuaries from all over the world, caring for all kinds of animals: from big cats to monkeys to horses to wolves to even bats! (No dogs and cats, though)
Christy, you may be sayin’ to yourself, “why does all this matter?” Well, sanctuaries accredited by GFAS have to meet very high standards of animal care…stricter than animal welfare laws. They can’t breed, buy, sell, or exhibit animals. There’s a very detailed process that every sanctuary has to complete to show it’s trustworthy. You can find out more on the GFAS website.
I hope this helps answer your question, my Dear! Please write me again if you have any questions. I’m always glad you asked!
Dear Auntie Viv,
School starts next month, and I’m worried about my biology class…we have to do animal dissections! My teacher says we won’t have to dissect a cat, but there will be other animals, like frogs. When I asked my teacher where these animals come from, he said they order them from a company. But where does the company get them?
Owen, worried in Wayne, PA
Oh my Dear Owen, I’m sooo sorry to hear that! How awful that your school still includes animal dissections in its biology classes!
I know it’s hard to believe, but there are companies that sell animals for dissection. Most are caught in the wild…including the frogs and sharks! My Friends at Animalearn say a lot of frogs come from other countries, like Mexico, and that dogfish sharks are considered “vulnerable” to extinction. Cats usually come from shelters after they’ve been euthanized.
But, you have a choice, My Dear…you don’t have to dissect! Since you live in Pennsylvania, the state’s dissection choice law lets you use alternatives that don’t harm animals. You should talk to Kat and Nicole at Animalearn about alternatives, and they can also tell you more about how companies get the animals they sell for dissection. (Find your states’ dissection choice policy.)
Animalearn runs a lending library for dissection alternatives called The Science Bank. (Such a clever name, huh? lol) The alternatives there are amazing, and some sooo high tech. And not so many know, but dissection can harm the environment too. Animalearn has important info on this. Do check it out!
I hope this helps, Owen! Do write back and let me know how things go.
Until next time,
Dear Auntie Viv,
I hear people talk about alternatives and how they can be used in research and testing instead of animals. But I still don’t understand. I feel like I should know this, but what the heck are alternatives?
Bewildered in Seattle, WA
Oh, my dear William, what a good question! There are sooo many alternatives out there. Ones for education and training, and others for testing cosmetics and their ingredients. There’s one type of alternative, though, that’s been getting lots of buzz. It’s called an ‘organ on a chip.’ Can you imagine such thing?!
The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering is the mastermind behind this alternative. Using live human cells and Mother Nature’s building design as a ‘blueprint,’ they ‘build’ a multicellular system that mimics the job of an organ like a lung. This video on my blog is from the Wyss Institute, and it explains how the lung chip ‘breaths’ and ‘fights’ infection.
Here’s how they say it works: A porous membrane lies between lung cells carrying air and blood vessels cells carrying fake blood. Vacuum channels cause the ‘lung’ to expand and contract just like our lungs do when we breath in and out. Bacteria moves through the ‘lung,’ but white blood cells, our body’s infection fighters, cross the membrane, attacking the bacteria invaders. This is how the lung chip mimics our body’s response to infection!
There are other organ chips, like for the heart and kidney, and there’s hope that they could be used to test drugs or chemicals instead of animals. And it all happens in a chip smaller than a domino. Amazing, huh?
Maybe I should do a blog series about alternatives and highlight the different kinds. Hmmm. I will think on it….what do you think?
Happy Earth Day Friends!
Spring is my fav time of year…and I think for Miss Caroline Kitty, too! She just luvs sitting in an open window, watching the squirrels and chattering to the birds. lol
I think Caroline has the right idea. Sometimes we get caught up in our daily routines and don’t give ourselves time to enjoy and appreciate the world around us. Earth Day is a purrrfect reminder to do just that!
Also, World Day for Animals in Laboratories is April 24…just two days away! Sooo hard to believe the suffering that animals used in research and testing have to endure. World Day is a time to be proactive for animals so others can acknowledge their suffering, too.
But Friends, every day can be a day for the animals and the Earth! Ran out of dish soap? Look for the Leaping Bunny and buy cruelty-free! Want to be a more active activist? Share action alerts on Facebook and forward e-newsletters from your fav groups with your personal endorsement. Need a few groceries? Walk instead of driving. Got some bottles and plastic containers? Reuse and recycle!
There’s so much we can do every day to help animals and protect the Earth. We just need to do them!
Auntie Viv, I’m freaking out. I just found out that I’ll have to dissect three animals for biology class – a clam, frog, and CAT!! I’ve lived with cats all my life, and when I was a kid, me and my brother would hang out at the pond and watch the frogs. I don’t want to dissect them! Please help!
Cassie B. from Denver, CO
My Dear Cassie,
That’s awful! I’m with you. Isn’t biology suppose to be the study of life?
Well, good news. I know exactly who can help you…my friends at Animalearn! Go to their website animalearn.org. You’ll find The Science Bank there, and it’s choc full of alternatives to usin’ all sorts of animals in class….including clams, fish, frogs, grasshoppers, and cats!
The folks at Animalearn are super-duper. Nicole and Kat will give you advice on how to ask your teacher to use alternatives instead of doing dissection. They’ll also help pick out alternatives…and there’s plenty! Virtual dissection programs, life-size models and manikins, and simulators.
And, if my memory is right, I think that Animalearn once gave their Humane Educator of Year award to a teacher in Colorado…. I looked up the law there and didn’t see any bill or policy about dissection in your state. But, nonetheless, you have the right to stand up for your beliefs, and Animalearn will help to empower you!
Well my Dear, I must be going…. Miss Caroline Kitty has tried to sit on my keyboard three times. lol Good luck! And Cassie, please stay in touch.