An official website of the United States government.

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Animal Welfare Act Timeline

Pepper Goes Missing

June 22, 1965

Sports Illustrated* reports the story about Pepper, the Lakavage family's dalmatian that was stolen from their farm in Pennsylvania in June 1965 and sold to a research facility in New York City. Pepper's theft and eventual death prompts Rep. Joseph Resnick (D-NY) to introduce a Laboratory Animal Welfare bill in Congress, an early milestone in the history of the Animal Welfare Act.

Julia and Peter Lakavage. N.d. Photograph. www.slate.comWeb. 31 Jul 2015. .

Passing of the (Laboratory) Animal Welfare Act (Public Law 89-544)

August 24, 1966

Rep. Resnick's efforts lead to the passage of the (Laboratory) Animal Welfare Act, of which the stated intention is "to protect the owners of dogs and cats from theft of such pets and to prevent the sale or use of stolen dogs and cats for purposes of research and experimentation."

Animal Welfare Act Expands

December 24, 1970

This amended law expands the Animal Welfare Act's protections to cover all warm-blooded animals and regulates more facilities and people. These regulated groups and individuals now include people who exhibit, transport, or use animals in the pursuit of medical and scientific knowledge.

Increasing Protection for Animals in Transit

April 22, 1976

The 1976 amendments expand the definition of "carrier" and establish shipping standards for transported animals. The law now covers animal fighting ventures by outlawing interstate and foreign transport of animals in these ventures.

“Comfy Crate” by cogdog is licensed under CC BY 1.0

Improved Standards for Laboratory Animals

December 23, 1985

The 1985 amendment introduces new requirements for enriching the lives of nonhuman primates, providing exercise for dogs, considering alternatives to painful or distressful procedures, establishing Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs), and creating an information service at the National Agricultural Library (now the Animal Welfare Information Center, AWIC).

Pet Protection Act

November 28, 1990

This new amendment to the Animal Welfare Act adds a requirement that all dogs and cats held at animal shelters must be kept there for at least 5 days before being sold to a research facility.

Image from Postcards of Australia collection.

Redefining "Animal"

January 23, 2002

The 2002 amendment limits the definition of "animal" in the Animal Welfare Act to exclude “birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, bred for use in research.”

"Mouse” by spongebabyalwaysfull is licensed under CC BY 1.0

Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act

May 3, 2007

The 2007 amendments prohibit knives, gaffes, or any other sharp instruments for attachment to bird’s legs during animal fighting.

Further Protections for Dogs

June 18, 2008

The 2008 amendments stipulate that dogs imported into the United States must be at least six months of age, in good health, and have all necessary vaccinations. They also strengthen dog fighting prohibitions.

Modifying the Definition of "Exhibitor"

January 10, 2013

In response to concerns of small-scale exhibitors, Congress amends the Animal Welfare Act to exclude owners of common, domesticated household pets who derive less than a substantial portion of their income for exhibiting an animal that exclusively resides at their residence from licensing requirements.