Yesterday morning, my Human-Animal Interactions lecture was about using animals for research and scientific purposes. During one part, our lecturer said to picture a line or scale, where you have humans on one end, and bacteria on the other. Starting from the human end, you then would have common mammals (dogs, cats, rabbits etc.), then birds of the class Aves, followed by rats and mice (which are also mammals but grouped separately for this purpose), next is amphibians and reptiles (lizards and frogs etc.), then fish, followed by cephalopods (for example, octopuses and squids) and finally bacteria.
The class was asked to draw the line based on where you would stop feeling empathy and care about the welfare of the animal subject to scientific testing. Obviously, everyone cared about the humans as well as for common mammals. But when it came to rats and mice,about half of the class said they wouldn't be too worried regarding the suffering of these rodents. The number of people raising their hands to show that they will have empathy decreased as we moved along the scale. By the time the end of the scale was reached, no one put up their hands.
As for myself, I drew the line after amphibians. However I am against animal testing unless it is for important medical purposes, and that the animal's suffering is minimized.
Over the centuries, the line have moved further down the scale. As we continue to learn about the physiology of animals and how they behave, I believe the line will keep moving.
What about you? Where on the scale do you think you will draw the line?