I was wrong, and I couldn't answer this youngster's question because I, too, remain incredulous that detailed scientific research published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals that could and should be used to protect other animals from invasive and abusive research - often causing intentional and interminable pain, suffering, and death - is thoroughly ignored by those responsible for updating legislation to protect animals. I'm thrilled that tickling helps rats endure ensuing pain, but why does invasive research that causes pain continue? I couldn't think of a good answer for the young girl, who kept asking the question over and over again. It turns out her favorite animal was a rat, Molly, with whom she shared her home.
Why are reliable scientific data dismissed as if they didn't exist when developing legislation to protect animals?
We know that rats and numerous other animals experience positive emotions and also that they experience deep and enduring pain. They also apparently suffer the pains of (at least) other members of their species. So, why are rodents (and other sentient animals including birds, fish, reptiles, and invertebrates about whom rapidly accumulating data show just how emotional they can be) not protected by the United States Federal Animal Welfare Act? I've written about this situation before, noting that animals are not really better off now than they were years ago (see for example, "Animal welfare and the federal Animal Welfare Act: Are animals really better off?"). In this essay I concluded, "So, are tens of millions of animals better off than they were years ago? No. So, why is the NIH congratulating themselves about improvements in animal welfare - patting themselves on the back, job well done - when they support the use of tens of millions of sentient beings in invasive research?" Sadly and regrettably, this still is the case - reliable scientific data are simply dismissed as if they didn't exist. The lack of knowledge translation is appalling.