The Animal Welfare Act: Background and Selected Legislation

Publication Date: March 2007

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Social conditions



The Animal Welfare Act was first passed in 1966 to prevent pets from being stolen and sold to research laboratories, and to improve the treatment and well-being of animals intended for research. Congress has amended the act five times since then to strengthen its provisions, expand coverage to more animals and activities, and curtail animal fighting, among other things. Some animal protection groups support measures to further expand federal regulation of animal treatment. Bills proposed in the 109th Congress included those addressing animal fighting, dog and cat protection, and pet evacuation in disasters, among others. This report will be updated if significant developments ensue in the 110th Congress.