In 1983 the pharmaceutical company Pfizer carried out a special study to see if animal experiments could correctly identify cancer-causing chemicals. The results would be vitally important because despite costing millions of dollars, no one really knew whether the tests provided adequate protection against hazardous substances. Human findings were compared with experimental data from rats and mice for all chemicals known to cause cancer in people. The outcome was disturbing: in most cases animal tests had given the wrong answer. The report concluded that we would have been better off to toss a coin! The quarrel between those who would endow animals with "rights” and those who say that animals must be used if science is to move forward remains as heated as ever. Despite the widespread practice of harmful animal testing, there are numerous viable alternatives that prevent the unnecessary torture of innocent animals.
Today, most people agree that causing unnecessary harm to an animal is wrong and our laws reflect that sentiment. Neglecting a pet by depriving it of food, water, or medical attention is a misdemeanor crime penalized by costly fines or in some cases jail time. Felonies include more sever forms of animal cruelty such as torture. Laws that protect animals from cruelty are a recent idea. Until the 1800's no such laws existed. Public displays of animal abuse were commonplace in nineteenth-century England; in fact, animal fighting was considered healthy entertainment. When the House of Commons was scheduled to debate an animal protection bill that sought to abolish bullbaiting, a vicious battle between a dog and a bull that often ended in a bloody death for both animals, members of Parliament considered the issue so insignificant that many failed to attend the session (Hurley 8.) .
Although anticruelty laws proposed during the early 1800's were easily defeated, the idea that animals deserved fair treatment was steadily becoming more and more accepted.