News & Views
Itís a particularly fraught conundrum. On one hand, using dogs in laboratory research has led to improved cancer treatments, the discovery of insulin, the development of the pacemaker, more effective pharmaceuticals, and the heart-lung machine used in open-heart surgery ó advances that in many cases have helped dogs themselves as well as people. On the other hand, the sturm and drang has intensified between the 44 percent of Americans who live with dogs as pets and the researchers who depend on them to improve health. No matter how much medical good lab dogs do, more and more people see their dogs as family members and do not like the idea of their petsí species mates having to live in cages and be subjected to possibly dangerous, toxic, and sometimes painful treatments ó even for the noble cause of medicine. Perhaps thatís part of the reason that in 1979, some 211,000 dogs were used in biomedical research and in 2016, 61,000. (For perspective, more than 3 million dogs enter shelters each year, according to the ASPCA.) MoreWhen Do Puppies Look Their Cutest?
Wolves are raised by their mothers and fathers until they are two years old. Not so, dogs. Their mothers are done with them at weaning, around the time a puppy is about 8 weeks of age. Perhaps thatís why thereís such a high mortality rate among pups not living as pets; more than 80 percent of dogs die in their first year of life without human care. But not to worry ó there appears to be an across-species evolutionary process at work that helps helpless, newly motherless puppies get adopted into human homes. It involves a young dogís peak adorableness. More