The History of Human-Animal Interaction - The Twentieth Century
animals act protection rights
By the early twentieth century American society was becoming increasingly urban and industrial. Working animals, such as horses, were gradually replaced with machinery on farms, battlefields, and city streets. The growing middle class had more time and money for leisure activities, many of which involved animals—hunting, fishing, keeping pets, and visiting wildlife refuges, circuses, zoos, and animal parks. Horseracing and greyhound racing both became popular sports in the 1930s as many states legalized this type of gambling.
In 1938 the Pure Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act was passed. This legislation required animal testing of certain chemicals and drugs to ensure their safety for human use. It was to have a profound effect on the human-animal relationship and later debates on the topic of animal rights. Following World War II (1939–45), the use of animals in medical and scientific research exploded. The demand for dogs and cats in the laboratory led to animal procurement laws in many states, allowing scientists to obtain test subjects from dog pounds and animal shelters.
By this time, the country's animal protection organizations had largely turned their attention from farm animals to pets. Some people within these groups were deeply opposed to the use of animals in research, while others saw it as a regrettable necessity. Differences in opinion led to splintering and the formation of new organizations. The Animal Welfare Institute and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) were both founded in the early 1950s. Table 1.2 lists other milestones of the animal welfare movement that occurred between 1951 and 2000.
Animal protection groups began to develop separate identities and missions. Some retained a local focus, while others focused on national issues. They gained an ally in Senator Hubert Humphrey (1911–78), Democrat of Minnesota, who championed animal causes along with civil rights and other social movements. Humphrey was instrumental in the passage of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958. The law required the use of humane slaughter methods at slaughterhouses subject to federal inspection. It was the first piece of federal animal protection legislation in eighty-five years.
The next year Congress passed the Wild Horses Act to outlaw the use of motorized vehicles and the poisoning of watering holes "for the purpose of trapping, killing, wounding, or maiming" wild horses on federal lands. The passage of this legislation had been driven by grassroots support, a term used in politics to describe a movement that begins with a handful of people and gains national power from widespread popular support. In 1950 Velma B. Johnston and 146 other residents of Storey County, Nevada, had signed a petition protesting the use of aircraft to capture wild horses in the county. The practice, known as mustanging, was outlawed.
Johnston then took the fight to the Nevada legislature, where she was mockingly nicknamed "Wild Horse Annie." Johnston kept up the pressure and was successful in getting statewide legislation passed in 1955. She next turned her campaign into a national one and garnered support from millions of schoolchildren. Congress was flooded with letters, and articles appeared in major newspapers. The federal law, passed in 1959, was often referred to as the "Wild Horse Annie Act."
In the 1960s another animal issue, this time dog-related, achieved national prominence because of the efforts of a handful of people. Pepper was a family pet that disappeared from her backyard in Pennsylvania in 1965 and wound up dead in a New York City laboratory. Pepper's family diligently tracked down what had happened to her and helped expose a network of shady animal dealers and pet thieves selling animals by the pound to research laboratories. The public demanded action. In 1966 Congress passed the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act requiring licensing of animal dealers and regulation of laboratory animals.
Several other federal laws were passed in the 1960s and 1970s designed to protect wild animals, including eagles, seals, and endangered species. Some animal protection issues were intertwined with causes devoted to conservation, ecology, and the environment. "Save the Whales" became a popular slogan.
Animal Rights Becomes an Issue
In 1975 a new twist developed in an old movement. Author Peter Singer published a book called Animal Liberation, which called for a fundamental change in
|Organizations founded||Legislation passed/amended||Other|
|1951||Animal Welfare Institute|
|1954||Humane Society of the U.S.|
|1955||Society for Animal Protective Legislation|
|1957||Friends of Animals|
|1958||Humane Slaughter Act (HSA)|
|1959||Catholic Society for Animal Welfare (now ISAR)||Wild Horses Act||The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique published|
|Beauty Without Cruelty|
|1962||Bald and Golden Eagle Act|
|1966||Endangered Species Act (ESA)|
|Laboratory Animal Welfare Act (LAWA)|
|1967||Fund for Animals|
|United Action for Animals|
|1968||Animal Protection Institute|
|Canadian Council on Animal Care|
|1969||International Fund for Animal Welfare|
|1970||Animal Welfare Act (AWA) amendments|
|1971||Greenpeace||Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act||Diet for a Small Planet published|
|1972||Decompression chamber banned for euthanasia in California|
|Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)|
|1973||International Primate Protection League (IPPL)||ESA amendments||Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)|
|Air Force beagles campaign|
|1974||North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS)||Mankind? published|
|1975||Animal Liberation published|
|1976||Animal Rights International (ARI)||AWA amendments||American Museum of Natural History protests|
|Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting (CASH)||Horse Protection Act||The Question of Animal Awareness published|
|Fur Seal Act|
|1977||Sea Shepherd Conservation Society||"Undersea Railroad" releases porpoises in Hawaii|
|Scientists Center for Animal Welfare|
|American Fund for Alternatives to Animal Research|
|1978||Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)||HSA amendments||Indian government bans rhesus monkey exports|
|Medical Research Modernization Committee|
|1979||Committee to End Animal Suffering in Experiments (CEASE)||Metcalf-Hatch Act (authorizing poundseizure) repealed in New York State||Coalition to Abolish the Draize Test launched|
|Packwood-Magnuson Amendment to the International Fishery Conservation Act||The Animals' Agenda launched|
|Research Modernization Act introduced in Congress|
|Animal Liberation Front (ALF) raid, first in the United States, at New York Univ. Medical Center|
|Vegetarianism: A Way of Life published|
|1980||People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)||Action for Life conference launched|
|Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PsyETA)||Animal Factories published|
|Student Action Corps for Animals (SACA)|
|1981||Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM)||Silver Spring Monkeys confiscated from Institute for Behavioral Research|
|Trans-Species Unlimited (TSU)|
|Mobilization for Animals (MfA)|
|Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR)|
|1981||Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT)|
|Primarily Primates sanctuary|
|1982||Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT)||MMPA reauthorized||Veal ban campaign launched|
|Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG)|
|National Alliance for Animal Legislation (NAA)|
|Feminists for Animal Rights (FAR)|
|1983||In Defense of Animals (IDA)|
|The Case for Animal Rights published|
|A Vegetarian Sourcebook published|
|Organizations founded||Legislation passed/amended||Other|
|1984||Humane Farming Association (HFA)||Pound seizure in Massachusetts repealed||ALF raid at Head Injury Clinical Research Center, Univ. of Pennsylvania|
|Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)|
|Modern Meat, focusing on antibiotics in meat production, published|
|1985||Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)||AWA amended to include focus on alternatives and control of pain and distress||ProPets Coalition launched Hegins pigeon shoot campaign launched|
|Last Chance for Animals (LCA)|
|Culture and Animals Foundation (CAF)||Campaign for a Fur Free America and Fur Free Friday launched|
|Great American MeatOut launched|
|Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy||Federal funding for Head Injury Clinical Research Center suspended|
|1986||Farm Sanctuary||Cambridge Committee for Responsible Research (CCRR) initiative|
|Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC)|
|1987||The Animals' Voice launched|
|Diet for a New America published|
|Jenifer Graham case filed|
|1988||Doris Day Animal League (DDAL)|
|1989||Avon Corporation ends its animal testing|
|Veal Calf Protection Bill hearings, U.S. Congress|
|1990||United Poultry Concerns||AWA amended||March for the Animals|
|California referendum bans mountain-lion hunting|
|San Mateo County spay/neuter ordinance passed|
|1991||Ark Trust||Cambridge, Mass., bans LD50 and Draize test||Stockyard "downer" campaign launched|
|1992||Wild Bird Conservation Act||Student Right Not to Dissect approved in Pennsylvania|
|International Dolphin Conservation Act|
|Driftnet Fishery Conservation Act|
|Colorado referendum bans spring, bait, and hound bear hunting|
|1993||NIH Revitalization [Reauthorization] Act mandates development of research methods using no animals||Marie Moore Chair in Humane Studies and Veterinary Ethics endowed at Univ. of Pennsylvania|
|First World Congress on Alternatives and Animals in the Life Sciences|
|1994||Arizona bans trapping on public lands (public initiative)|
|Oregon referendum bans bear baiting, bear and cougar hounding|
|1995||USDA ends face branding under pressure|
|Spay Day USA launched|
|1996||Colorado referendum bans body-gripping traps|
|Massachusetts referendum bans bear baiting, hound hunting, body-gripping traps, and reforms Fisheries and Wildlife Commission|
|Washington referendum bans bear baiting and hound hunting bears, cougars, and bobcats|
|1998||Arizona referendum bans cockfighting|
|Missouri referendum bans cockfighting|
|California referendum bans body-gripping traps|
|1999||Harvard Univ. announces launch of animal rights law course|
|2000||Hegins pigeon shoot terminated|
the human-animal relationship. Singer argued that animals are victimized by humans on a massive scale because of a social evil called "speciesism," a term he used for the widespread belief that the human species is superior to all others. Singer equated humans' mistreatment of animals throughout history with racism and sexism and blamed speciesism for the systematic abuse of animals in agriculture, research, and other human activities. The year after Singer's book was published, Animal Rights International was founded by social reformer Henry Spira (1927–98).
Some people working for animal causes embraced the idea that animals are not resources to be protected by benevolent humans but individual beings with their own interests and rights. This meant that humans could not use animals for any purpose (food, clothing, sport, entertainment, etc.) because it was morally and ethically wrong to do so. This opened a new agenda in the animal welfare movement that went beyond calls for kind treatment and humane methods of slaughter. Adherence to the most radical "animal rights" theory meant that eating meat and killing vermin were wrong. So were zoos and circuses, hunting and fishing, and experimenting on animals to find cures for human diseases, no matter how humanely any of these activities were carried out.
This philosophical leap was too much for many people, and the idea that animals had rights like humans was not generally embraced. The public supported anticruelty laws and animal protection measures (within reason) but did not go so far as to say that animals have a moral standing in society that makes it inherently wrong to eat or use them. Opponents of animal rights argued that to do so would go against centuries of tradition and beliefs, disrupt many accepted systems for feeding and entertaining people, have crippling economic consequences, hurt millions of people who earned their living through animals, and impede scientific progress. Because of such arguments, most Americans of the 1970s rejected the idea of animal rights. So did most of the traditional animal protection organizations, though they continued their work to educate and reform.
But the idea did not go away. More books examining this issue were published, and new organizations formed, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in 1980. Many others followed. These animal rights groups were much bolder than traditional animal welfare organizations. They held protest marches and publicly condemned companies and research institutions using animals for various purposes. The radical group Animal Liberation Front (ALF), raided laboratories and farms to "free" animals and destroy property. The first such raid happened in 1979 at the New York University Medical Center.
Some animal rights groups worked through the legal system to achieve change, filing lawsuits and working with prosecutors to strengthen animal protection laws. The more traditional animal protection groups supported these efforts. Legal reform was one area in which the entire animal movement found some common ground. The traditional groups increased their political power during the 1980s through swelling membership rolls. Animal issues gained momentum in society, particularly among pet owners.
Animals and Celebrity
Animal causes were also championed by movie and television personalities. In 1988 entertainer Doris Day founded the Doris Day Animal League, and since the 1980s, at the end of each of his shows, game-show host Bob Barker has urged television viewers to spay and neuter their pets. He founded his own animal organization in 1995.
It is understandable that movie and television celebrities wanted to become involved in animal activism, as animals had been popular characters in movies and television shows from the time the media were invented. Rin Tin Tin was a famous war dog that starred in silent movies during the 1920s. The story of another dog, Lassie, appeared in book form in 1940, in a movie in 1943, and on television in 1954. The original TV show ran for seventeen years. Benji the dog gained movie fame in 1974. Popular animal movies of the 1980s included White Fang and Turner and Hooch.
Keiko the killer whale became famous because of the 1993 movie Free Willy. In the movie Keiko portrayed a whale liberated from captivity with the help of a boy. Life magazine did a story on Keiko, describing the irony of the poor conditions in which he lived in a Mexican amusement park. In response, the Free Willy Foundation raised millions of dollars to have Keiko moved in 1996 to an aquarium in Oregon. (See Figure 1.4.) There he gained weight and recuperated from various health ailments. In 1998 Keiko was flown to Iceland to live in a baypen in his native waters. His handlers tried to teach Keiko skills he would need in the wild, such as catching live fish on his own. In 2002 Keiko was released. But he did not join an ocean pod of whales as was hoped. Instead he took refuge in a calm bay in Norway and remained semi-dependent on humans for food until his death in 2003 from pneumonia.
Animal-Related Events since the 1990s
During the 1990s animal stories became so popular that an entire cable television network was devoted to them. Animal Planet was launched in 1996 as a project of Discovery Communications. It broadcasts such popular shows as Animal Cops, Animal Precinct, The Crocodile Hunter, The Jeff Corwin Experience, The Planet's Funniest Animals, and Wild Rescues. According to Discovery Communications, Inc., in 2005 Animal Planet had more than eighty-five million subscribers in the United States and 126 million subscribers in seventy other countries (http://corporate.discovery.com/brands/animalplanet.html, accessed May 4, 2005).
Animal Precinct is a reality show that goes on patrol with New York City's Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) agents. These agents are empowered to respond to cruelty complaints, perform investigations, and arrest people for crimes against animals. They were granted this power in 1866 when the ASPCA established its original charter with the state of New York. In 2003 the HLE department received approximately 45,000 complaints of suspected animal cruelty and investigated 3,809 cases, resulting in the arrests of 277 people. Animal Cops is a similar series based on the work of the Detroit-based Michigan Humane Society. Since their inception, these shows have gained an enormous fan base, and the HLE officers featured have earned celebrity status because of their work.
Animal welfare organizations are pleased that animal cruelty cases receive so much media attention. Many groups publicize cases on their Web sites and ask members to lobby prosecutors for stiff sentences. One case that received widespread attention in 2004 occurred in Martinsburg, West Virginia. According to www.pet-abuse.com (February 20, 2005), Richard Faircloth was arrested for tying his family's dog, Kujo, to railroad tracks, where the dog was subsequently hit and killed by a train. The train's conductor reported the incident to local police. They found the dog's body and determined he had partially escaped from his ropes before the train hit. The dog's jaw and tongue were severed by the impact, causing him to bleed to death. Police received an anonymous tip and arrested Fair-cloth. He was charged with felony animal cruelty because there was evidence of "intentional malice" associated with the crime. In June 2005 Faircloth was found guilty of felony animal cruelty. He claimed he killed the dog because it growled at his children. Fair-cloth faces a penalty of one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.