CAMBRIDGE, MASS.—City officials here are wrestling with a proposal to place experiments involving animals under the control of a new council-appointed body that would have the right to delay or veto any work it did not like.

The city council is in the midst of hearings leading to a possible vote on two ordinances relating to animal research at Harvard University, MIT and other private institutions within the city limits. The first proposal would seek to ensure that all laboratories are following NIH guidelines on the care of animals through periodic, unannounced inspections. The second measure would create an apparatus regulate work with animals. Animal rights groups have pledged to gather signatures for a referendum if the council fails to act.

“We have no major objections to the ordinance proposed by council members Alice Wolf and Francis Duehay except for the fact that it would allow the city manager to...

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