Billboards ask you to decide: 'Who should live, who should die?'

Billboards ask you to decide: 'Who should live, who should die?' »Play Video
The billboards are posted in Seattle and four other cities.
SEATTLE - Controversial billboards promoting animal research just went up in Seattle, asking a provocative question: Who would you rather see live, a little girl or a lab rat?

The billboards are presenting the side of the argument you don't usually hear about.

They are designed to get people to ask themselves if animals should die in the lab so scientists can pursue possible lifesaving treatments for people.

"My personal opinion is that research has done a lot of interesting things and helped out a lot of people," says Chuck Puls, who spotted the signs while walking Sunday.

"I'm not 100 percent against animal research," adds Deanna Puls. "I think that it needs to be limited; I think all other options need to be considered."

The billboards are paid for by the Washington, D.C.-based Foundation for Biomedical Research. The private group lobbies lawmakers and the public in favor of using animals to look for human cures and treatments.

"The point of the advertising is just to make people think, 'Where are my medicines coming from when my kid is sick? How are those things developed?'" says the foundation's Liz Hodge.

"Breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis - all of these diseases that are a mystery to us now, you can’t study those in a computer model or in a dish," she adds.

But animal rights groups say even animals bred specifically for research should not have to die.

"It still doesn't make any difference to any feeling human being what the species is," says Kathy Gullerimo of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). "They all experience pain. They all can suffer."

One of the billboards is just off the University of Washington campus.

"Of course if it's going to spark controversy - that's brilliant for them," says Andrew Swan.

For many people who see the billboards, the argument isn't black and white.

"I don't think it should be done for nonmedical, non-lifesaving purposes. I'm not sure about, you know - shampoos, conditioners, things like that," says Deanna Puls.

"I bet there are ways to do it humanely and ways that aren't so humane," adds Victoria Alvarez.

It's a debate these billboards are designed to get more people into.

The billboards have also gone up in four other cities, including Portland, Ore.,. and will stay up through the end of April.

In response, Guillermo says, PETA is planning to put up its own billboards accusing research labs of animal murder.