Name: Amending the Animal Welfare Act
This year, while the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the world, thousands of mice and rats are losing their lives as reductions are made to their human caretaking staff. The solution for many labs has been to cull as much as 90% of their research rodent populations. The number of mice and rats being used is in the millions, yet researchers are not obligated to justify their use of these animals under provisions of Animal Welfare Act (AWA) applying to other species.
In 1970, the AWA (first passed in 1966) was amended and its scope was expanded to include all “warm-blooded animals.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) subsequently adopted new regulations that specifically excluded mice, rats and birds from AWA protection. In 2002, that change was codified into law. These animals have become the most used animals in research, with their annual use estimated in the millions.
There is substantial evidence to conclude that more than 90% of all animals used in research are mice, rats and birds. How can the U.S.government claim to provide protection for animals used in research when a vast majority of these animals are not even accounted for under the law? Because they are excluded from the AWA, mice, rats and birds are not ensured minimal standards of care; they are not on the list for APHIS inspections; and they are not tallied on annual APHIS reports on the number of animals that suffer pain from experimentation.
While mice, rats and birds may be held to standards under voluntary guidelines, there is no replacement for a mandate to account for every animal used for every experiment, no matter how they are being used. Now that they are being euthanized in record numbers, it is time to establish full AWA protection for these animals who have become the backbone of animal science in the U.S.
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Amend the Animal Welfare Act to include accountability to animals used most often
Dear [Decision Maker],
The Animal Welfare Act was originally intended to provide oversight for all warm-blooded animals used in research, yet it now fails to provide protection and oversight for more than 90 percent of all animals used--namely mice, rats and birds.Because of their omission from the Act, mice, rats and birds are NOT ensured minimal standards of care; they are NOT on the list for APHIS inspections; and they are NOT tallied on annual APHIS reports on the number of animals that suffer pain from experimentation. While mice, rats and birds may be held to standards under voluntary guidelines, there is no replacement for a mandate to account for every animal used for every experiment, no matter how they are being used. It is impossible to assess the use of animals in biomedical and drug research if the animals are not even counted. It is also difficult to obtain a true assessment of the cost of research on animals, and its drain on the economy when 90% of the animals are not included in any accounting. Please consider making a much-needed change to this important federal law. It is essential to include mice, rats and birds in the Animal Welfare Act for purposes of scientific integrity, animal welfare and economic accountability in determining future funding for animal-based research.Thank you for your action on behalf of these "uncounted" and unprotected animals,
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]