Skip Navigation
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthCAAT

Animals and Alternatives in Testing: History, Science, and Ethics

Joanne Zurlo, Deborah Rudacille, and Alan M. Goldberg

Appendix D: United States Animal Welfare Timeline

1866Henry Bergh founds American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
1892American Humane Association calls for laws prohibiting the repetition of painful experiments for the purpose of teaching or demonstrating well-known or accepted facts.
1896-1900Legislation is proposed in the U.S. Congress to restrict vivisection in the District of Columbia via a system of regulation and periodic inspection of laboratories. The bill is defeated on the floor of the Senate, in large part due to the debate and argument offered by William Henry Welch, Dean of The Johns Hopkins Medical School and a number of other illustrious scientific and medical opponents. The legislation is proposed again in 1900 (as Senate Bill 34) and is once again defeated.
1951Animal Welfare Institute founded by Christine Stevens.
1954Humane Society of the United States founded by members of American Humane Association.
1958Federal Humane Slaughter Act is passed.
1963The National Institutes of Health develops the first set of guidelines for the care and use of lab animals, The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
1965The American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animals is founded in Washington, DC by veterinary and scientific groups to promote uniform animal-care standards. Today this organization is known as AAALAC (American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care).
1966Congress passes the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which provides for licensing animal dealers to halt the theft of pets and their sale to research facilities. Inspection duties fall to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The act includes dogs, cats, nonhuman primates, guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits.
1970The AWA is amended to include the same animals (mentioned above) alive or dead, plus any category of warm-blooded animal (other than farm animals) that the secretary of agriculture determines are being used in research.
1971The USDA excludes mice, rats, and birds from coverage under AWA.
1985Congress amends AWA, mandating that experimental procedures minimize animal pain and distress with appropriate anesthesia, analgesics, and euthanasia. Revisions also impose exercise requirements for dogs and guidelines to maintain the psychological well-being of primates.
1989Animal welfare groups petition the USDA to reverse its 1971 regulation to include mice, rats, and birds in its coverage.
1990The USDA denies the petition. The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States subsequently sue the USDA. The USDA extends AWA coverage to horses and other farm animals used in research. The USDA issues regulations under the 1985 AWA amendments covering care of guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, marine mammals, and the discretionary category of "other warm-blooded animals".
1992The U.S. District Court grants summary judgment ordering the USDA to reconsider coverage of birds, mice, and rats.