Fifty Years of the Animal Welfare Act of 1966

August 24, 2016

Signed into law on this day by President Lyndon B. Johnson a half century ago, the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 was intended to regulate the transport, sale and handling of dogs, cats, guinea pigs, nonhuman primates, hamsters and rabbits intended for research and other purposes. Amended eight times since its passage, the Act has provided some protections for society's treatment of some animals and further codified an important value into American law: animals matter. However, there is one glaring omission that stands to this day: the vast majority of animals directly impacted by humans—the 99% suffering on factory farms—do not receive a single word of protection from the Act.

50 years later, though, there are rays of hope in the darkness. Because where federal government has failed to take action, a movement has emerged; a movement that thrives today.

There are groundbreaking state laws on the books that prevent some of the worst abuses on factory farms. Through the tireless work of organizations like The Humane League and so many others, more citizens are aware today than ever before about the plight of farmed animals. And through hard-fought institutional campaigns the reality on factory farms is already changing for countless millions of animals.

From the hundreds of corporate cage-free campaigns we've won to the commitment to end the barbaric culling of male chicks to the millions of citizens we've reached with a message of compassion for animals, our movement is changing the world for animals.

We're choosing to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 not by damning what it doesn't do, or by glossing over what it isn't. Rather, we're taking this as an opportunity to acknowledge what is yet to be done. And to promise all those who seek to profit from animal suffering that we will not quit in our fight for meaningful welfare reforms. And to promise all those who have joined us in this movement to reduce and ultimately end animal suffering that we will not quit. And we're taking this moment as an opportunity to promise the animals that we will not quit in our unrelenting work for you.

For the animals…