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By Lisa Yount

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Antivivisectionist societies were also established in the United States, but they failed to obtain any legislation against the practice, and interest in the subject faded away after World War I. Then, just as happened with animal agriculture, a surge of activity brought on by the prosperity following World War II revived American concern about vivisection. In this case the activity was government-supported medical research, and its rise produced a corresponding increase in the demand for laboratory animals.

Animal welfare groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, as well as prominent senator Hubert Humphrey, protested against this state of affairs, and in 1958 their complaints finally produced passage of the Humane Slaughter Act, which required that pigs, cattle, and sheep be made unconscious by some rapid method before being cut, chained, hoisted, or knocked down. The law was revised and somewhat expanded in 1978, at which time it became the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. It is enforced by a branch of the USDA called the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

I s s u e s i n A n i m a l We l f a r e a n d A n i m a l R i g h t s panion animal abuse. This change in opinion was shown clearly during a nationally publicized California case in 2000, in which animal rights groups and concerned citizens established a $120,000 reward for the identification and capture of a man who threw a woman’s dog into traffic, causing its death—a far greater sum, critics pointed out, than was offered for information on most kidnapped children. The man was eventually found, arrested, convicted, and given the state’s maximum sentence for cruelty to animals, three years in prison.

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