The Browser Review Daily Letter 154

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Mr Galsworthy Against Vivisection Of Dogs


The Times,  17th July 1913

To The Editor Of “The Times”:

Sir — Whatever one‘s beliefs upon the whole question of experiments on the living body, the vivisection of dogs is a strange anomaly.

Even if it be granted that the dog, by reason of his intelligence and nervous organization, is more fitted than other animals for certain vivisectional experiments — there are yet basic considerations which make such treatment of the dog a scandalous betrayal.

Man, no doubt, first bound or bred the dog to his service and companionship for purely utilitarian reasons; but we of to-day, by immemorial tradition and a sentiment that has become almost as inherent in us as the sentiment towards children, give him a place in our lives utterly different from that which we accord to any other animal ; a place that he has won for himself throughout the ages, and that he ever increasingly deserves.

He is by far the nearest thing to man on the face of the earth, the one link that we have spiritually with the animal creation. The one dumb creature into whose eyes we can look and tell pretty well for certain what emotion, even what thought, is at work within; the one dumb creature which – not as a rare exception, but almost universally — knows the sentiments of love and trust.

This special nature of the dog is our own handiwork; a thing instilled into him through thousands of years of intimacy, care, and mutual service; deliberately and ever more carefully fostered; extraordinarily precious even to those of us who profess to be without sentiment. It is one of the prime factors of our daily lives in all classes of society – this mute partnership with dogs; and — we are still vivisecting them!

I am told that pro-vivisectionists are fighting tooth and nail against the Bill (now in Committee stage in the House of Commons) which has for object the exemption of dogs from all vivisectional and inoculative experiments.

If it, indeed, be so, I ask them: “ Would you, any one of you, give your own dog up to the vivisector’s knife; or respect a man who gave or sold you his dog for your experiments?”

I take it they would reply: “ We would not give our own dogs. We should think poorly of the man who sold or gave us his dog; the dog we use are homeless, masterless dogs.” And, in turn, I would answer: “There are no dogs born in this country without home or master. The dogs you use are those who have already fallen on cruelty or misfortune, whom — as decent men you pity, or should pity — these are the dogs, the lost dogs, that you take for your experiments, to make their ends more wretched than their lives have been!”

If this be sentiment, it is not mere cultured sentiment, but based on a very real and simple sense of what is decent. Miners, farmers, shepherds, little shopmen, gamekeepers, any humble men who own dogs, have precisely the same feeling — that the dog is essentially the friend of man, deserving loyal treatment.

We all have this feeling; yet, when for our alleged benefit we want to violate it, we can still say: “Oh! it does not matter — this dog is already down!”

In a word, Sir, what we would not do with our own dogs we have no right to do with dogs that have not had the luck to be ours. It is not so much a question of love of dogs as of the decency and good. faith of men.

I do not wish to enter here into the general question of vivieection, but I do plead that, whether we believe in vivisection or not, we are bound, in common honour, to make a clean and whole-hearted exception of the one creature whom we have trained to really trust and love us.


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