The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the only law which
protects the millions of animals that are used in experimentation every
year. This law deals with many issues regarding animals that are
confined within laboratories. Feeding, watering, cage cleaning,
veterinary care, approval of experiments, etc. -- all of these things
are regulated by the AWA.
The AWA is enforced by the United States Department of
Agriculture/Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS). APHIS
inspects thousands of facilities every year. Are laboratories following
the law? Is the AWA being routinely violated by major laboratories? How
are animals being cared for?
Monitoring all laboratories and examining the use of
all species in all laboratories would be an impossibly large task. The
USDA regulates over 1.4 million animals in over 1100 laboratories every
year. Therefore, this audit will not examine all facilities, but will
attempt to look at a broad spectrum of facilities. Labs will be examined
which represent a broad geographical range of the U.S. Labs with and
without a history of violations will be examined. And facilities with a
broad range of animal use (few animals used to large numbers of animals
used) will be examined.
However, the use of primates in laboratories will be a
substantial focus of this audit. Primates will be used for several
reasons. First, a substantial portion of the overall number of primates
used nationally can be examined because they are centered in a
relatively small number of facilities. Second, relatively new
regulations exist regarding environmental enrichment for primates, and
the examination of the implementation of these new regulations will
provide information on how well laboratories implement new rules.