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US federal and state laws distinguish lab animals from companion animals, livestock, zoo animals, and wild animals. As a result, similar forms of suffering and abuse are treated as legally different depending on the species and its relation to humans, despite the fact that all mammals feel pain similarly (and evidence suggests birds and fish do as well). This research examines one aspect of this uneven legal patchwork by reviewing legal statutes and rulings from laboratory animal abuse cases. In the 1980s, significant changes were made to the Animal Welfare Act, the key federal law regulating lab animals, and this project seeks to understand how courts have taken account of the suffering of laboratory animals since these reforms. Additionally, this research explores how other legal statutes on animal testing compare with the Animal Welfare Act, to understand how their recognition of animal suffering corresponds or differs.



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How Federal Law Assess Animal Pain: The Case of Lab Animals