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Animal Use Position Statement

(Adopted July 28, 1995, Modified January 2001, Approved April 29, 2012)

It is the position of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) that dissection and the manipulation of animal tissues and organs are important elements in scientific investigation that introduce students to the excitement and challenge of their future careers. HAPS supports the use of biological specimens as part of a program of study, provided their use is in strict compliance with federal legislation and the guidelines of the National Institutes of Health and the United States Department of Agriculture, and that such use fulfills clearly defined educational objectives. 

The mission of the  Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) is to promote excellence in the teaching of anatomy and physiology.  A fundamental tenet of science is the ordered process of inquiry requiring careful and thoughtful observation by the investigator. As subdivisions of biology, both anatomy and physiology share a long history of careful and detailed examination, exploration and critical inquiry into the structure and function of the human and animal body. 

Consistent with the origins and nature of scientific inquiry, HAPS endorses the use of animals as part of the laboratory experiences in both human anatomy and human physiology. 

Historically, an important tool of investigation in human and animal anatomy has been dissection. A complete anatomy learning experience that includes dissection goes beyond naming structures and leads the student to conclusions and insights about the nature and relatedness of living organisms that are not otherwise possible. To succeed in their future careers, students must become thoroughly familiar with anatomical structures, their design features and their relationships to one another. Dissection is based on observational and kinesthetic learning that instills a recognition and appreciation for the three-dimensional structure of the animal body, the interconnections between organs and organ systems, and the uniqueness of biological material. Dissection conveys the inherent variability of living organisms not otherwise observable in simulations and models. Physiology experiments involving humans and live animals provide an excellent opportunity to learn the basic elements specific to scientific investigation and experimentation. It is here that students pose questions, propose hypotheses, develop technical skills, collect data, analyze results and develop and improve critical thinking and problem solving skills. 

Since effective teaching requires a diversity of strategies and approaches, HAPS endorses the use of computer atlases and simulations, modeling, and video programs to meet educational objectives and the needs of students. Science educators choosing not to use animals or biological specimens should choose alternatives that are able to convey equivalent anatomical and physiological intricacies to meet their educational objectives. 

Science educators have in common a respect and reverence for the natural world and therefore have a responsibility to share this with their students. They must communicate the importance of a serious approach to the study of anatomy and physiology. HAPS also encourages educators to be responsive to student concerns regarding use of animals and to provide students who object to animal use with alternative learning materials. 

 HAPS contends that science educators should retain responsibility for making decisions regarding the educational uses of animals and other strategies and techniques for the betterment of their student’s  learning. Furthermore, it opposes any legislation or administrative policy that would erode the educator’s role in decision making or restrict dissection and animal experimentation in biology.