Heather Moore, Research Specialist
By now, most people have seen Procter & Gamble's (P&G) commercial boasting that Dawn dishwashing liquid is gentle and effective enough to clean oil-covered birds and marine mammals. The company has long given Dawn to rescue workers to clean wildlife affected by oil spills, and now it plans to donate one dollar (up to $500,000) to the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) and the Marine Mammal Center each time someone buys a bottle of Dawn and "activates" the donation.
Normally, I applaud companies that attempt to help animals, but I'm going to pass on P&G's sales ploy and continue to purchase dish detergent from a cruelty-free company. P&G may be bragging about its efforts to help birds and other wildlife, but it isn't saying much about what it does to dogs, cats, and other animals in laboratory experiments.
P&G owns a slew of companies that aren't exactly considered to be animal-friendly.
Caring people have been boycotting the Iams company, for example, for about eight years now. In 2002 and early 2003, an investigator from PETA went undercover at an Iams contract laboratory where researchers were conducting nutritional tests on animals for research and product development. The investigator reportedly saw dogs in barren steel cages and cement cells, dogs who had been left on a filthy paint-chipped floor after chunks of muscle had been hacked from their thighs, dogs who had been surgically debarked, and sick dogs and cats who were left to languish in their cages.
In 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a complaint revealing that the government inspectors who investigated the contract laboratory from 2002 to 2005 found that laboratory personnel weren’t trained to perform experiments on animals; did not provide clean, structurally-sound, spacious, ventilated and temperature-controlled housing for dogs and cats; and that animals were not given veterinary care.
Although Iams has since made some progress, it still refuses to permanently stop conducting and funding invasive or terminal experiments on animals and to adopt completely humane, non-invasive, and cage-free "in-home" testing, as many of its competitors have done.
Many of P&G's other subsidiaries have also not yet pledged to permanently stop testing their products on animals and, since it's hard to know exactly what's going on behind closed laboratory doors, may even still be conducting notoriously cruel product tests, such as the infamous lethal dose 50 percent (LD50) test and the dreadful Draize test.
In the LD50 test, the most common animal-poisoning experiment, animals are force-fed increasing amounts of a substance until 50 percent of them die. The animals often endure severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, convulsions, seizures, paralysis, and/or bleeding from the nose, mouth, and genitals before they die. Variations of the LD50 test have been used for decades even though they have never been scientifically validated to confirm that their results are indicative of chemical effects in people.
In the Draize eye- and skin-irritation/corrosion test, rabbits are immobilized in full-body restraints while a substance is dripped or smeared into their eyes or onto their shaved skin. They generally suffer from swollen eyelids, irritated and cloudy eyes, inflamed skin, and in some cases, they may even endure ulcers, bleeding, bloody scabs, or blindness. The results of the Draize test are also highly subjective, unreliable, and not applicable to humans. Rabbits’ eyes are anatomically and physiologically different from humans’ eyes and they tend to have stronger reactions to chemicals. (Product tests do nothing to protect people anyway; even if a product blinds an animal, it can still be sold to consumers.)
So, I'd much buy products from a company that has pledged not to test on animals, and donate directly to the IBRRC, the MMC, or other organization that helps animals—not hurts them. I urge everyone else to do the same.