Voles? We’re talking about voles?
Voles are glorified mice. They are small rodents that produce five to 10 litters per year, with each litter containing five to 10 offspring. So, conservatively, a typical vole will create 50 new voles in 12 months.
Those 50 new voles will reach sexual maturity in one month.
If you don’t want to do the math, just focus on one word: exponential.
But the University of Akron could be fined as much as $10,000 because a former employee let two voles die.
Now, I am certainly not advocating the torture of animals, even small ones in the rodent family. Just because voles multiply faster than dandelions in May doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about them suffering.
And dying from a lack of water is a terrible way to go.
But the employee in UA’s research lab who neglected to check on them for five days was not a budding Jeffrey Dahmer, killing animals for pure enjoyment. He was guilty of negligence.
Regardless of what he was thinking — or not thinking — he didn’t live up to his responsibilities, and now he’s gone.
He “resigned” on Dec. 4, according to the university, which would provide no additional information about him, citing privacy laws.
UA did everything it should have done. It reported the incident to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and took steps to try to prevent something similar from happening in the future.
But the story doesn’t end there.
An animal rights group called Stop Animal Exploitation Now has filed an official complaint with the Agriculture Department, which could impose penalties ranging from a warning to a $10,000 fine.
Anything beyond a warning would be absolutely absurd.
These weren’t horses or dogs or cats or chimps. They were voles.
If you want to claim that all of God’s creatures are exactly equal, how do you explain swatting a mosquito or stomping on a spider? Any rational person has a general hierarchy.
Any rational person also believes experiments that might lead to important medical breakthroughs should first involve animals, not humans.
Without an initial experiment on two mice, we would not have penicillin, the king of antibiotics, a drug that has saved countless human lives — and countless animal lives.
The scientist who first hypothesized that penicillin would work on bacterial infections struck out using test tubes and gave up. A decade later, two other scientists injected two healthy mice with penicillin. The mice remained healthy, proving the substance wasn’t toxic.
Two years later (the time it took to collect enough penicillin for further testing), eight mice were infected with streptococci bacteria. Half of them were then injected with penicillin. Those four lived. The other four died.
If it weren’t for experiments with dogs and rabbits, we would not have blood transfusions, which means we would not have open-heart surgery. We also would have big problems with many other surgeries and have fewer treatment options for anemia and cancers.
Animals were the key to developing monumental breakthroughs in a number of other serious situations, including:
• Macular degeneration.
• Kidney transplants.
• Parkinson’s disease.
Clearly, not all experiments are necessary, and not all labs are conscientious. Horror stories of mistreated primates abound. But taking up the cause of two voles in an otherwise responsible operation makes no sense.
In general, I think it’s wonderful when people worry about things outside of their own existence. Too few of us do. But with all the possible causes to champion, you decided to invest your time, money and emotion in this?
If you are eager to right wrongs, how about weighing in on child abuse?
How about calling more attention to the military vets coming back from the Middle East with their psyches in shreds, or protesting the lack of decent mental-health insurance for most of the general population?
How about raising Cain about human beings having to cut their prescription pills in half because they don’t have enough money to use the dosage their doctor recommended?
If you simply can’t relate to human misery, at least funnel your outrage into ongoing, premeditated animal abuse, such as puppy mills.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.