The Early History
Activism on behalf of animals has been around a long time.
Antivivisectionists and the 1876 anticruelty act
The antivivisection movement of Victorian England spearheaded the
legislation to regulate laboratory animal welfare.
ASPCA - livestock protection, the 28
hour rule and animal shelters
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was an
early advocate for animals in the US. They raised awareness for the
protection of farm animals, leading to the 28 hour rule of livestock
transportation. They also set up shelters for homeless animals.
Growth of antivivisectionism - attack on Rockefeller University
As in Britain, concerns about the way laboratory animals were treated led
to movements against animal researchers in the US. As early as the beginning
of the last (!) century, activists raided the Rockefeller University out of
concern for laboratory animals there. At this time the cost of this research
to animals was obvious, but the benefit to humans was less compelling, since
many of the medical breakthroughs that animal research spawned lay in the
AMA counteracts with a Committee
on National Legislation and Council for the Defense of Medical Research
In response to antivivisectionism in the US, the American Medical
Association began a lobbying campaign to counteract the efforts of animal
activists, seeking to prevent limits being placed on medical researchers.
They set up the Committee on National Legislation and Council for the
Defense of Medical Research to argue in favor of animal experimentation.
The turn of the century saw early breakthroughs in biomedical science and
immunology which provided some incentive to persist with animal research.
Militancy then dormancy of antivivisectionists ca 1914-1918
The early activism of this century subsided during the first world war.
America was more preoccupied with geopolitical issues than animal welfare.
Furthermore, it was difficult to build support for a militant organization
during a time of national emergency.
60 years of medical advances
In the period after the first world war, major advances were made in
medical science, relying partly on animal experimentation. The improvements
in life expectancy from vaccination programs, antibiotics, and improved
medicine and surgery eclipsed concerns about animal welfare. Other issues of
national importance, such as the great depression, the second world war, and
the cold war, seemed to hold the nation's interest.
Animal seizure laws 1945 - 1960, National Society for Medical Research
versus Robert Sellar
The NSMR actively initiated legislation to force humane societies and
animal shelters to give animals to government or university researchers on
demand. These laws applied in some cases to both government and privately
funded shelters. The ealiest of these laws were debated and passed without
the knowledge of humane societies. Robert Sellar of the American Humane
Association struggled to prevent or lessen the impact of this legislation
with limited success. Overall, after the death of Robert Sellar, the AHA did
not take a strong stand against the medical research community, to the
frustration of many in the animal advocacy movement.
Split from AHA of HSUA and other
Animal Welfare organizations
The Humane Society of the United States was formed, in part, by former
members of the AHA who were no longer satisfied with the AHA's passive
stance. They felt that the AHA did not do enough to oppose the NSMR.
The Later History
During the Vietnam and civil rights era, protest and activism became a more
accepted part of US life. The current Animal Rights movement probably owes
some of its energy to the anti-establishment attitudes of the 1960's.
1966 Concentration Camp for Dogs (Life Magazine)
Life magazine published an article which graphically portrayed the
conditions faced by lost and stray dogs that were sold to researchers.
Animals were severely mistreated and neglected as they were warehoused prior
to seizure by the universities. It showed how lost pets routinely ended up
undergoing experimentation at institutes like the Harvard Medical School.
The lack of legislation protecting these animals led to the Animal Welfare
Legislation of 1966.
Animal Welfare Act 1966, 1970, 1985
As mentioned in the previous lecture, this legislation was the result of
resurgent animal activism after the 1960's.
Repeal of Animal Seizure Laws
State by State it has been necessary to repeal or modify animal seizure
laws so that lost animals are not in danger of being used for research.
The Modern Animal Rights Movement
Animal Liberation by Peter Singer (1975)
This book provided a coherent philosophical outlook to fundamentally
change the human - animal relationship
What we must do is bring nonhuman animals within our sphere of moral
concern and cease to treat their lives as expendable for whatever trivial
purposes we may have
We must allow that beings who are similar in all relevant respects have a
similar right to life -- and mere membership in our own biological species
cannot be a morally relevant criterion for this right
Speciesism - "a prejudice or attitude of bias in favor of the interests
of members of one's own species and against those of members of other
Animal "rights" and "liberation" replace animal protection, welfare, or
anti-vivisection. Animals are no longer our responsibility. They should be
liberated, set free from our society. We have no responsibility to care for
them, nor use them.
A fundamental change in society is proposed
A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They're all mammals. In other
words human life and animal life should be weighed equally.
Abolitionist versus reformist
Some members believe that the current situation must be abolished, that
liberation of animals requires one drastic step, just as the abolition of
slavery required one drastic step. Others prefer to change the system
gradually using a step by step approach.
Many organizations, divided by moral absolutism
Each of the Animal Rights organizations has a sightly different stance.
Some oppose each other for failing to take sufficiently hard lines on
Animals should not be used in research.
Animals should not be raised for food or fiber.
Pet ownership is a form of slavery.
Animals should not gve their skins for clothing.
Use of animals in entertainment is exploitation.
Use of animals in sport, exercise, or recreation is also exploitative.
Animals should not be used for hunting nor should they be hunted.
A Few of The Organizations
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)-
Annual budget of 9 million dollars. They organized an expose revealing the
treatment of non-human primates in medical research.
Animal Liberation Front-
Listed as a terrorist organization by the FBI. Bomb, burn, vandalize
equipment, steal records, release animals.
Friends of Animals -
Founded in 1957 to promote spaying and neutering, does not believe in
liberating animals. They have links to the environmental movement through
efforts to prevent clubbing of baby seals. Priscilla Feral is the CEO.
Although not as plentiful, "animal use" organizations have now sprung up in
opposition to the animal rights activists. This movement is particularly
strong in the west where farming and hunting is a way of life for many. These
groups tend to use strong rhetoric against the animal rightists.
Animal Scam by Kathleen Marquardt (1993)
This is one example of a book of the animal use movement. It seeks to
expose the militancy and supposed dishonesty of the animal rights movement,
and draw support for animal use.
Putting People First
This is one organization that, through books like Animal Scam, promotes
animal use in oppposition to the animal rights movement. The cost borne in
animal suffering or discomfort is outweighed by the rewards in decreasing
human and animal suffering through animal research.
To some extent the animal rights movement uses the human rights movement as
Consider the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights,
that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Consider this declaration signed in 1977 by delegates at an animal
We declare our belief that all sentient creatures have rights to life,
liberty, and the quest for happiness
The spectrum of animal advocacy
Animal advocacy covers a spectrum of organizations which extend from
those advocating humane animal use, to those advocating animal liberation.
At both ends of the spectrum lie extremist groups.
Where do you stand on "The Issues" listed above. Why?