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PETA spokeswoman wants dissections to end

October 22, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - A PETA spokeswoman has suggested that Boonsboro High School discontinue dissections as part of the science curriculum, saying the act can lead students to violent acts in the future.

But Principal Richard Akers said the practice is more likely to send biology students into the science field than a life of violence.

In an Oct. 15 letter to Akers, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Education Specialist Patricia Trostle said students are more likely to commit acts of violence because they are desensitized to it as a result of performing dissections in biology or anatomy classes.

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"Dissection is a lesson is violence, cruelty and death that gives students the wrong message about animals," Trostle said in the letter. "It teaches students that animals are nothing more than convenient tools who can be thrown away like pencils when they are no longer of use."

Trostle suggested in the letter that the school replace the live dissections with lessons based around a CD-ROM program.

The impetus for the letter to Akers was an incident in which a 17-year-old Keedysville boy was charged last month with bludgeoning 10 puppies and shooting an adult dog, killing all of them, according to Trostle.

Akers, who said dissections of frogs and fetal pigs are part of the science program at Boonsboro High School, said he does not believe there is a link between the practice and violent behavior.

"I think it's more likely to lead students to become veterinarians than animal abusers," Akers said. "I don't think dissection desensitizes people any more than eating hamburgers, which come from dead animals."

Akers said he believes PETA is using the Sept. 23 animal deaths as an excuse to stop the practice and was not sure if the 17-year-old in question, whose identity was not released to the public, was a student taking part in any class dissection at Boonsboro High School.

"I have no grudge with PETA, but it sounds to me like they're exploiting the incident to propagate their own beliefs," Akers said.

Akers said the vast majority of the students do not have a problem with the dissections, which are done on animals that were dead before their arrival in the school's science labs.

"When students do (have a problem with dissection), we try to find a way for them to avoid dissecting a pig or a frog," he said.

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