Cambridge, Mass., became the first city in the nation to approve an ordinance protecting the welfare of vertebrates used in experiments. City council members voted 8 to 0 to expand on federal and state regulations concerning humane treatment of laboratory animals by including all vertebrates--animals with backbones or spinal columns. Federal law deals with dogs, cats and monkeys to the exclusion of reptiles, amphibians, mice, rats and rabbits, said Steven Wise, an animal rights attorney. The ordinance will affect Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 11 other academic and private firms engaged in animal research. The council created a commissioner's post to oversee and enforce the new rules.