The federal Animal Welfare Act does not keep up with research findings but it must.
One would think that based on these research findings published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals that the US federal Animal Welfare Act would grant rats at least some protection. Nonetheless, the federal Animal Welfare Act doesn't protect rats (or millions other animals) and rats aren't even considered to be "animals." I realize that some might be incredulous to learn that rats aren't animals but a quote from the federal register does in fact read, "We are amending the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations to reflect an amendment to the Act's definition of the term animal. The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 amended the definition of animal to specifically exclude birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, bred for use in research" (Vol. 69, no. 108, June 4 2004).
How in the world do you explain to a youngster (or anyone else, for that matter) that these animals are not animals? It strains credibility that those writing the AWA can so easily get away with such rubbish. As stunning and absurd as this may seem, their exclusion from protection means just about anything can be done to rats "in the name of science." And, indeed, rats do find themselves on the receiving end of the most egregious and brutal treatment at the hands of researchers.