NEAVS works to educate the public, change existing laws, policies, and practices, and enact new laws to end the use of animals and to improve protections while they remain in labs. Currently, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA, 1966) is the only existing federal law requiring even minimum standards of care and treatment for animals in U.S. labs. (The federal Public Health Service's (PHS) Policy on the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals covers animals in NIH-funded research, but the PHS does not conduct inspections itself. Instead, it relies on institutions to inspect their own labs.) The AWA, however, excludes mice, rats, and birds (90-95% of animals in labs), cold-blooded animals, farmed animals, and others. Further, it has no authority to limit what can be done to an animal in a research protocol once that protocol is approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the lab.
In 2000, the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection (CHIMP) Act established groundbreaking protections for chimpanzees when it forbade euthanasia as a means of disposing animals no longer needed. Further, it required retiring chimpanzees to sanctuary once no longer needed for research – the only law of its kind. The act set a precedent in moral consideration that later helped lead to the 2013 National Institutes of Health (NIH) decision to retire nearly 90% of its chimpanzees. Affording chimpanzees such protection coupled with substantive arguments against their necessity or usefulness in biomedical research for human health – despite that they are humans’ closest genetic relative – sets the stage for ending the use of all animals.
NEAVS has headed-up or supported the following legislative/policy initiatives: