Student, Mother Challenging School for Asking Students to Dissect Cats

The pair has started a petition asking the high school to find an alternate teaching method.

When her daughter, an 11th-grade student at Culpepper County High School in Central Virginia came home from school and told her that the teacher said the class would be dissecting cats, Tamira Thayne was outraged. Her daughter, Brynnan Grimes, couldn’t believe what she was being asked to do.

“She came home and she said, ‘Mom we’re supposed to dissect cats in anatomy class,’ and I was just blown away,” Thayne told NBC29.

Grimes, an avid cat lover who draws and writes about the feline creatures, has five cats and says she wants cats instead of ever having children. After expressing concern about dissecting a companion animal, Grimes said her teacher told her “If you have a black cat just pick a white cat to dissect.” For Grimes – and many other cat lovers – that response changed nothing.

According to NBC29, Rob Hauman, the Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction for Culpeper County Public Schools issued the following statement:

“Our Honors Human Anatomy and Physiology course does involve animal dissection, including the dissection of cats purchased from a scientific materials vendor. This part of the lab experience has been taking place for many years and, to our knowledge, without complaint from students or parents. Our Veterinary Science course has also used cats in the past.

The course in question is an elective course. The teacher’s opening letter/course syllabus explains that dissections will take place and that, per VDOE guidelines, alternatives for students who do not wish to participate, shall be provided. This is an elective class that students take by choice and, if they choose not to participate any dissection, we provide an alternative as required by the guidelines.”

Two other schools in Central Virginia also use cats for their dissections. Grimes is now being home-schooled.

Thayne, however, told NBC29, “Even if they technically give them a choice, I believe the student still has to take a stand against the other students… be seen as odd, be seen as a coward… you know, the one that doesn’t want to do it. This really engenders a lack of respect for companion animals, and that’s the complete opposite of what we should be telling our students.”

Thayne has since posted a petition on At press time, the petition had garnered 102,499 signatures. Click here to read it.


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