Cat Dissection in the Classroom – Teen Who Raises Awareness Wins National Prize for Humane Efforts


When Culpeper County, Virginia student Brynnan Grimes found out she had to skin and cut up a cat as part of a human anatomy class, she took her protest of the antiquated teaching method seriously.

brynnan1“We were told ‘If you have a black cat at home, select a white cat to dissect or vice versa.’ I was appalled. Like the color of the cat’s fur matters to me!”

Brynnan went home and shared the news with her mother, chained-dog activist and founder of Dogs Deserve Better, Tamira Thayne. They spent many hours that week discussing their options, both for Brynnan and for a way to put an end to cat dissection in her school district and across America.

“We believed most Americans aren’t aware of it, and we couldn’t help but think if there was a way to reach these people, cat dissection could end in all but vet training and technician programs.

“My mother e-mailed the teacher with her concerns, but failed to receive a response. At that point I decided to homeschool in protest of the school’s policy of cat dissection and their decision to ignore the concerns of the students.”

What the daughter-mother duo did next ultimately won the teen First Prize in the National Voice for Animals contest, in the Active Involvement by a 16-18 year old category, with a $400 award. The contest was co-sponsored by the Humane Education Network and the Animal Welfare Institute.


“One student homeschooling wasn’t enough—that one student’s protest needed to turn into awareness for the masses. My mother and I decided to put up a petition to publicize the cat dissection occurring in Culpeper High School. We asked people to sign it to let the school officials in Virginia—and hopefully nationwide—know that we weren’t the only ones opposed to dissecting our companion animals in the classroom.”

“I was interviewed for over an hour by Channel 29, an NBC affiliate in Charlottesville, VA. The interview resulted in a two minute segment that aired twice in the regional viewing area, and is still available online at I also did a newspaper interview with the Culpeper Star Exponent, which was printed in newpapers in Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Roanoke too. Overall, the story of our petition and our efforts to end cat dissection in the Culpeper County Virginia School District was carried in 12 different online news outlets, in addition to TV and hardcopy newspapers.

School official Rob Hauman, executive director of curriculum for Culpeper County Schools said, “The recent attention to this issue of dissection may impact discussions within our school division, the region, and perhaps across the state.” (Culpeper)

In the end, one student’s distress over a school mandate that borders on cruelty to both students and cats has spread to millions of people reading about the ongoing issue of cat dissection in the classroom. Our petition currently has over 108,000 signatures, and I will continue to raise awareness for the suffering of our companion animals and the students who are forced to cut them open or appear as cowards for not doing so.  I remain hopeful that our efforts have made a difference on their behalf.”

Congratulations to Brynnan Grimes for her hard work for the voiceless, and for her First Place Award in the Voice for Animals contest!

Would you please share this petition one more time to garner more signatures before the start of the next school year?

Let’s make our voices heard ONCE AGAIN, for the cats who have none. Thank you!

P.S. Check out the link for all the contest winners, and to read and share Brynnan’s essay as well.

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About Author

Tamira Thayne is the pioneer of the anti-chaining movement in America, and founder and former CEO of Dogs Deserve Better. She is an ordained interfaith minister, an animal activist, an Air Force veteran, an author, and founder of Who Chains You, a publishing and mentoring company for animal advocates beginning January 2016. Click to see author's profile.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you so much for your kindness and bravery. I protested cat dissection in my high school 20 years ago and was bullied by both teachers and students for it. Back then, the school principal was the highest authority I could go to, and he basically gave me a “thanks, but no thanks” attitude.
    Nowadays, compassionate students have the entire world at their fingertips and have so many more opportunities than I did. I wish you the best and we can finally end this cruel ritual once and for all.

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