A few days ago we posted a story on the birth of the group, West Michigan for Animals (WMFA). Beginning in 1992, WMFA began organizing around Animal Rights/Animal Liberation, with some of the earliest campaigns around challenging various rodeos that look place in West Michigan.
Sometime in the early 1990s, WMFA also worked on educating schools about the harm done to animals used for classroom dissection. The involvement of WMFA around vivisection was built on the work being done around the US for nearly a century, especially by groups like the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS).
West Michigan for Animals began organizing around the issue by talking with area school district leaders about the use of animals for dissection. Most of the area school districts were contacted, including GRPS, schools in Kentwood, Kelloggsville and even area parochial schools, as is noted in this article from the Advance newspaper.
The story from the Advance is instructive, particularly when reading the arguments made by schools, especially science and biology teachers, who claimed that dissection was an essential learning practice for students.
Around the same time as the Advance article came out, WMFA member Dick Mercer, had a Guest Column published in the Grand Rapids Parent Magazine. In his column, Mercer argues against the cruelty to animals, the economic cost to schools, the stress on students and the fact that even in 1992 (when the column was written), there were technological advances made that made classroom dissection unnecessary.
“The use of animals in dissection started in the 1920s, and at the time was thought to be a viable way to teach. Today, it is not only stupid but also archaic. When space age tools such as videos, computers, models and overlays are available at a one-time cost – reusable and less stressful – why must the schools persistently resist?
These archival materials demonstrate that area animal rights/animal liberation activists were not only protesting the abuse of animals for entertainment, but the abuse of animals for so-called education purposes.