It has taken the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 36 years since
the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was passed in 1966, to extend
regulatory oversight to birds, rats and mice. A successful lawsuit by
the Alternatives Research & Development Foundation (ARDF) and an
advocacy campaign by the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS)
resulted in USDA's agreement in September to set standards for birds,
rats and mice, affecting more than 20 million laboratory animals and
nearly every biomedical research facility and educational institution in
United Poultry Concerns has urged USDA since our inception in 1990 to
fulfill its AWA mandate to cover birds, rats, and mice. To show how far
things have progressed, here is a composite of replies we received from
USDA in the mid 1990s: "In promulgating regulations and standards to
enforce the AWA, we [USDA] interpret the AWA as giving the Secretary of
Agriculture the authority to exclude certain species, such as birds. In
making this determination, we have responded to public sentiment.
Mammals such as dogs, cats, and primates have captured public sentiment
resulting in a public outcry against research procedures deemed
ethically unsound. However, public sentiment has not been similarly
shown on behalf of birds, rats, and mice. Therefore . . ."
The point is: Public Pressure Works. It's the only thing that works. As
noted by the AAVS which led the successful campaign, "The public is
clearly behind this agreement." This time around, 94% of over 40, 000
letters to USDA urged coverage of birds, rats and mice. For more
information contact AAVS: 215-887-0816.
(UPC opposes the use of animals in research, but we support every legal
protection for animals, who otherwise have nothing.).