As old as human history, the relationship between mankind and animals went through different stages: from reciprocal prey in the prehistory, to taming and exploiting for food and other resources, and more recently to the set up of company and emotional relationships.
The first part of the research presents an "introduction to the animal world", through a discussion of the animalist thought. The research examines in detail also the Italian legislation on animal treatment. Traditionally this legislation was concerned with animals only as services providers or as damage makers. Things begun to change with the notion and the science of "animal well being", conceived as an utilitarian, more than ethic, approach to animal treatment.
Animal testing is discussed in the second chapter of the research. A particular attention is devoted to its legal and technical aspects, identifying the different fields of application (biomedicine, toxicology, cosmetology, surgery, psychology, etc.) and describing the most common tests involving animals. Alternative testing techniques are also described, with their specific validation requirements.
The research reports also on a visit to the "stabilimento utilizzatore unico di Ateneo" of the University of Florence, to examine the application of the 1992 D.L. n. 116 on animal testing in a testing structure.
The third chapter is an attempt to give voice to the involved persons, divided between vivisectionists and abolitionists (themselves divided between ethics and scientific abolitionists).
The vivisectionists defend animal testing, calling their opponents sentimentalists. The abolitionists, and in particular scientific abolitionists, assume animal testing and its ground logic to be a methodological error, refusing the idea that the data collected testing animals can be efficiently applied to our specie.