Should The AWA Cover Rats, Mice, And Birds?
A survey of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) members shows that the majority of animal researchers favor including rats, mice, and birds under the Animal Welfare Act. Not currently covered, these types of animals represent the most commonly used species for animal research.
A 1998/1999 National Science Foundation (NSF) funded survey of IACUC members found that 73% feel that rats and mice should be protected under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), while the same proportion felt that farm animals should be covered and 69% felt that pigeons should be covered.
The majority also felt that reptiles (57%), frogs (53%), and fish (51%) should be covered. Support for extending coverage of the AWA was nearly universal, with no significant differences in attitudes among organizational chairs, veterinarians, or other committee members. Female respondents, however, advocated the inclusion of a greater number of animal categories within the AWA than male respondents.
Data from a 1996 American Psychology Association (APA) survey of members found that the majority also favored the inclusion of rats, mice, pigeons, farm animals, and reptiles under the AWA. The only significant difference in responses that dealt with farm animals, where 75% of researchers favored AWA coverage compared with 87% of respondents favoring coverage for the other animals.
These two surveys suggest that the majority of researchers favor the inclusion of rats, mice, and birds under the AWA, a position advocated by anti-vivisection and humane organizations for decades.