Though they profess to have more compassion than the average person, animal rights activists have targeted a dying woman in Italy with such cruel messages that the story made international news.
It all began when 25-year-old Caterina Simonsen posted an image of herself on Facebook with a message saying she's thankful to be alive.
“I am 25 thanks to genuine research that includes experiments on animals," her message, translated from Italian, read. "Without research, I would have been dead at nine. You have gifted me a future."
The backlash was so swift and vile that police were forced to get involved.
Simonsen says she has received around 500 insulting comments, and 30 death threats.
Messages included statements like, "You could die tomorrow, I wouldn’t sacrifice my goldfish for you.” Another read: “If you had died as a child, no one would have given a damn.”
"I have received messages saying that the lives of 10 rats are more important than mine," the girl said through her tears in a video aired on national television in Italy Sunday. "I don't know what planet these people live on and who raised them. I am alive thanks to doctors, to medicines and to animals who had to be sacrificed."
According to Reuters, Simonsen has a respiratory illness requiring her to be attached to oxygen tubes, but is studying to be a veterinarian at the University of Bologna.
"I want to get a degree so that I can help save animals," she said.
Animal testing is a highly controversial topic in Italy, and the country already has some of the strictest laws in Europe on the subject.
But many are showing support for Caterina Simonsen. A Facebook page supporting the young woman already has thousands of "likes," and Simonsen's mother said center-left political leader Matteo Renzi -- a potential candidate for prime minister in the future -- also expressed words of encouragement.
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