Published on
May 5, 2017

Animal Testing: The Irony of Veterinary Training

By Barbara Sharon Glick

From as early an age as I can remember, I loved animals, and decided to be a vet by the age of 5. In my senior year of high school, in pursuit of this goal, I took a course covering animal testing entitled "Scientific Research." We were given rats on whom we did all sorts of gruesome experiments, killing them with chloroform before we cut them open in the guise of animal testing. I imagine some of them were not dead when we did that, and how much they suffered as we exploited them. At the time, though, I thought I was working toward my goal of helping animals and continued on this ironic path.

 Animal Testing
Animal Testing

I majored in Animal Science at Cornell, a common major for those wanting to go to vet school. From 1975-76 I worked on the Cornell Dairy Farm, a huge complex and testing place for the latest practices in intensive animal farming. I thought nothing of the fact that the calves I bottle fed in hutches were stolen from their grieving mothers or that the ice cream I served up at the campus dairy bar was made from stolen milk. I didn't recognize the cruelty of the dairy industry even while I was immersed in it. Despite the fact that I was so clueless, I did realize how odd the name of one of my text books was: "The Science of Animals That Serve Mankind." Today, I know that all animals exist for their own purposes, not to serve humans. It just took me a while to realize this even though I have been a social justice activist my whole life. 

In October 1969 I organized a bus to the March on Washington against the war in Vietnam. I have been involved with many social justice issues over the years. Before I became the animal rights activist I am now, I was heavily involved with environmental activism, and eventually I realized that I can do that via the animal rights movement and also fight for the animals. Although for many years I went to circus, zoo, and fur protests, it wasn't until a few years ago that I understood that in order to love animals we should not eat them, wear their wool, eat their eggs, drink their milk, or exploit them in any way. 

In 1977 my first "real" job was with the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA), an agency of the USDA which no longer exists. FmHA financed farm purchase and operations as well as homes in rural areas. I moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where chicken farming was booming. My county was the home of Purdue headquarters. I remember meeting Frank Purdue in the opening of the "latest and greatest" style chicken houses (aka jails). My job was to approve loans for the purchase of farms, for construction of chicken houses, and for operating loans. I had absolutely no idea how immoral that whole industry was!

Last year, I attended the DxE Forum, which featured a session on open rescue. As a result of that and of the increasing role this work is having in our network, I rescued two chickens from Kaporos in Brooklyn, NY in October 2016. And to think that at one point in my life I had a job that financed the chicken farming industry! I like to think that rescuing those two chickens was just the start of making up for my former involvement in the chicken industry.

Now that I know how immoral it is to use another, I feel compelled to actively work against this violence. I plan to help save more lives this year and on. I am beyond grateful to be involved with Direct Action Everywhere, a truly supportive group of dedicated activists, I have learned and been inspired by so many, and I appreciate that we continue to study social sciences and emphasize developing the skills we need to become the most effective activists we can be. I will proudly fight side by side with these amazing activists for animal liberation.

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on social media. 
  2. Join a local DxE community (or, better yet, come visit us in Berkeley).
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in building a true social movement for animals.

Other articles