Here is a story that is ironic, arrogant and self-serving—all at the same time.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing—which pretty much tells you all you need to know about its mission—announced that proposals are being solicited for what has been renamed the 2014 Science-Based Refinement Awards.

The program used to be called the Animal Welfare Enhancement Awards, which was a little more on point, to be honest, because this “scientific” program is anything but.

According to a news release, the program “is designed to elicit scientific evidence that supports the enhancement of housing, handling, and/or experimental situations for laboratory animals.”

The poster boy for these awards is a cute little white rat. Basically, somebody’s pet rodent. The use of this kind of warm, fuzzy visual is identical to how almost every animal activist group plasters photos of sad-eyed puppies and fluffy kittens all over their fund-raising materials designed to raise the money they use to attack animal agriculture.

But egregious “photographic license” is the least of the problems here. This project, while sounding so noble and above-board, is less about science and more about “making a statement.” The statement being: We’re opposed to using animals for medical or scientific research.

The bluster about “scientific evidence” “enhancing” the lives of lab rats is totally self-serving: The PR people preparing the center’s publicity package are pretending that nobody notices the obvious agenda being pursued here.