Animal Welfare Act, 1966



The Animal Welfare Act was signed into Federal law in 1966, coincidentally (or not) around the same time veterinary practices increased invesment in animal treatment options. The act is considered the minimum standard of care for animals, particularly dogs and cats, used in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. Some of the most encompassing regulations are as follows:


(1) Handling of all animals shall be done as expeditiously and carefully as possible in a manner that does not cause trauma, overheating, excessive cooling, behavioral stress, physical harm, or unnecessary discomfort.


(2) Physical abuse shall not be used to train, work, or otherwise handle animals.


(3) Deprivation of food or water shall not be used to train, work, or otherwise handle animals; Provided, however, that the short-term withholding of food or water from animals by exhibitors is allowed by these regulations as long as each of the animals affected receives its full dietary and nutrition requirements each day.


(4) Performing animals shall be allowed a rest period between performances at least equal to the time for one performance.


(5) Young or immature animals shall not be exposed to rough or excessive public handling or exhibited for periods of time which would be detrimental to their health or well-being.


(6) Drugs, such as tranquilizers, shall not be used to facilitate, allow, or provide for public handling of the animals.


(7) An animal may never be subjected to any combination of temperature, humidity, and time that is detrimental to the animal's health or well-being, taking into consideration such factors as the animal's age, species, breed, overall health status, and acclimation.


Too often, people overestimate the resilience of animals. While yes, animals, for example dogs, retain some of the characteristics of their wolf ancestors, they are not wolves. They are not wild. They are domesticated - bred to cohabitate with humans, bred for dependence on humans. They cannot survive the extremes of weather. They are not used to severe injury and pain. They are not immune to exhaustion or starvation. And while the hundreds of pages of the Animal Welfare Act articulate a very comprehensive code of behavior when it comes to animals in research or show, those handled by professionals, what about those in the home? What about Max? He was abused and neglected. He was traumatized. Why was that allowed to happen?




Care Sheets, Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council


The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Coucil (PIJAC) works with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to amend and improve the regulations in the Animal Welfare Act. In addition, they release their own Care Sheets with guidelines for pet ownership. At the same time, they monitor pet owner regulations, which can become so stringent that they are detrimental to responsible owners and deserving pets alike. Below I have included some of the guidelines from one of PIJAC's Care Sheets, Caring for Your Puppy.


(1) Young puppies should be fed three times a day until they are about six months old and then twice a day until they are fully- grown. Adult dogs need to be fed only once a day. Feed a high quality food.


(2) Avoid feeding your dog table scraps, particularly chicken or turkey bones and chop bones.


(3) Water is an absolute necessity and must be available at all times. The bowl should be washed and refilled often because food particles tend to fall into the water.


(4) In addition to a collar and flea protection, the yard should have the proper fencing or tie out so your puppy doesn’t run away. If the puppy is permitted to stay outside during temperate days, a doghouse should be provided as shelter against the heat or rain. Make certain clean drinking water is available at all times.


(5) Place the bed in a quiet area that is draft free, out of the way of foot traffic and not subject to temperature extremes.


(6) The bath water should be warm. Check temperature of water with your elbow. If comfortable for you, it will be comfortable for your puppy.


(7) Check with your local government concerning the legal obligations you will need to meet regarding your new puppy, including: 

  • Dog licensing

  • Proof of rabies vaccination

  • Microchipping

  • Mandatory spay/neuter laws

  • Waste removal and leash laws


(8) In addition to a general health check-up, your puppy will need vaccinations and a worming analysis. Spaying or neutering your puppy prevents overpopulation in an already overcrowded world.


(9)  There are three keys to success when housetraining your puppy:

  • Take your puppy outside immediately after naps and meals

  • Lavish praise when your puppy is successful

  • Patience


(10) If the puppy makes a “mistake” in the house, do not resort to hitting. Puppies have short memory spans, so they will not understand what the punishment is for. If you see your puppy relieving himself in the house, take him outside immediately. If he is caught making a mess, a firm “no” while clapping your hands loudly should be his only punishment.


For me, reading these guidelines was like reading slightly less stringent guidelines for caring for a human baby - feeding, checking water temperature with an elbow, potty training, and, most 

importantly, having patience. However, it is important to remember that these are guidelines. They are not rules. So is breaking any of these guidelines grounds for the rescue of an animal? Perhaps. Max was rescued from his first home for God knows what reason and from his second home for what I can only assume to be neglect and possibly mild abuse. But who is legally regulating the treatment of household pets? 




The 1866 New York Act and the ASPCA


Henry Bergh is the closest thing to an answer to the above question. In 1866, Henry Bergh was granted a charter for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and amended the existing anti-cruelty law to read: "Every person who shall, by his act or neglect, maliciously kill, maim, wound, injure, torture, or cruelly beat any horse, mule, ox, cattle, sheep, or other animal, belonging to himself or another, shall, upon conviction, be adjudged guilty of a misdemeanor." This amendment also granted the ASPCA the right to enforce the law. Naturally, a number of other amendments have been made in the past 150 years, and the ASPCA continues to strive to strengthen it. They cite their current policy focuses as the following:


(1) Strengthening anti-cruelty laws and related penalties


(2) Fighting puppy mills


(3) Protecting horses from slaughter and entertainment-related abuse


(4) Enacting strong Cost of Care laws for seized animals caught up in legal cases


(5) Putting a stop to animal fighting, including dog fighting and cockfighting


(6) Supporting the creation and expansion of subsidized no-cost or low-cost spay/neuter programs


(7) Ensuring that veterinarians are allowed to travel where needed assist animals in crisis


(8) Protecting farm animals by opposing the passage insidious “ag-gag” laws and working to ban cruel, overly restrictive enclosures


In addition to amending current policy, the ASPCA intervenes in animal cruelty cases upon request from the local authorities. They assist with investigations, rescue and transport animals, set up temoporary shelters and provide legal services. As far as I can tell, the ASPCA is the reason I was able to spend eleven years of my life with such a loving, loyal and impactful dog. The organizationg may not have been directly involved in his rescue, but they set the anti-cruelty precedent that allowed him and so many others to be rescued from perpetrators of neglect and abuse.




The Humane Society


In addition to the ASPCA, the Humane Society is well known for its involvement in animal rescues. It is the largest animal protection agency.  The Humane Society rescues animals from puppy mills, animal fighting situations, hoarders and shelters that do not provide basic standards of care. Just a few months ago, in January of 2016, the Humane Society rescued over 600 animals from a no-kill shelter in North Carolina. This was, to-date, the largest rescue made by the Humane Society. The animals were taken to temporary facilities and provided veterinary care before being transported to different shelters for adoption. 




For more detailed information about anything presented in this appendix or the preceding seven sections, see the following:


For information on dogs and threat:


  • Vas, J., Topal, J., Gasci, M., Miklosi, A., & Csanyi, V. (2005). A friend or an enemy? Dogs' reaction to an unfamiliar person showing behavioral cues of threat and friendliness at different times. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 94, 99-115.


For information on dog-human attachment:


  • Gasci, M., Topal, J., Miklosi, A., Doka, A., & Csanyi, V. (2001). Attachment behavior of adult dogs (Canis familiaris) living at rescue centers: forming new bonds. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 115(4), 423-431.

  • Topal, J., Miklosi, A., Csanyi, V., & Doka, A. (1998). Attachment behavior in dogs (Canis familiaris): A new application of the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 112(3), 219-229.

  • Topal, J., Gasci, M., Miklosi, A., Viranyi, Z., Kubinyi, E., & Csanyi, V. (2005). Attachment to humans: a comparative study on hand-reared wolves and differently socialized dog puppies. Animal Behaviour, 70, 1367-1375.

  • Tuber, D., Hennessy, M., Sanders, S., & Miller, J. (1996). Behavioral and glucocorticoid responses of adult dogs (Canis familiaris) to companionship and social separation. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 110(1), 103-108.


For information on social cognition in dogs:


  • Adachi, I., Kuwahata, H., & Fujita, K. (2007). Dogs recall their owner's faces upon hearing the owner's voice. Animal Cognition, 10, 17-21.

  • Brauer, J., Kaminski, J., Riedel, J., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2006). Making infrences about the location of hidden food: Social dogs, causal ape. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 120(1), 38-47.

  • Hare, B. & Tomasello, M. (2005). Human-like social skills in dogs? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(9), 440-444.

  • Hare, B., Brown, M., Williamson, C., Tomasello, M. (2002). The domestication of social cognition in dogs. Science, 298(5598), 1634-1636.

  • Horn, L., Viranyi, Z., Miklosi, A., Huber, L., & Range, F. (2012). Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) flexibly adjust their human-directed behavior to the actions of their human partners in a problem situation. Animal Cognition, 15, 57-71. 

  • Soproni, K., Miklosi, A., Topal, J., & Csanyi, V. (2002). Dogs' (Canis familiaris) responsiveness to human pointing gestures. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 116(1), 27-34.


For information on dogs and human emotion:


  • Joly-Mascheroni, R., Senju, A., & Shepherd, A. (2008). Dogs catch human yawns. Biology Letters, 4, 446-448.

  • Albuquerque, N., Guo, K., Wilkinson, A., Savalli, C., Otta, E., & Mills, D. (2015) Dogs recognize dog and human emotions. Biology Letters, 12.

  • Morisaki, A., Takaoka, A., & Fujita, K. (2009) Are dogs sensitive to the emotional state of humans? Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 4(2), 49.

  • Custance, D. & Mayer, J. (2012). Empathic-like responding in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) to distress in humans: an exploratory study. Animal Cogntion, 15, 851-859.

  • Muller, C., Schmitt, K., Barber, A., & Huber, L. (2015) Dogs can discriminate emotional expresions of human faces. Current Biology, 25, 601-605.

  • Nagasawa, M., Murai, K., Mogi, K., & Kikusui, T. (2011). Dogs can discriminate human smiling faces from blank expressions. Animal Cognition, 14, 525-533.


For information on different phobias in dogs:


  • Araujo, J., Rivera, C., Landsberg, G., Adams, P., & Milgram, N. (2013). Development and validation of a novel laboratory model of sound-induced fear and anxiety in Beagle dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 8, 204-212.

  • Ballamwar, V., Bonde, S., Mangle, N., & Vyavahare, S. (2008). Noise phobia in dogs. Veterinary World, 1(11), 351-352.

  • Cottam, N., Dodman, N., & Ha, J. (2013). The effectiveness of the Anxiety Wrap in the treatment of canine thunderstorm phobia: An open-label trial. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 8, 154-161.

  • Dreschel, N. & Granger, D. (2005). Physiological and behavioral reactivity to stress in thunderstorm-phobic dogs and their caregivers. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 95, 153-168.

  • Huntington, A. (1986). Behavior program helps dog enjoy car rides without fear. Toronto Star. Retrieved from

  • Landsberg, G., Mougeot, I., Kelly, S., & Miligram, N. (2015). Assessment of noise-induced fear and anxiety in dogs: Modification by a novel fish hydrolysate supplemented diet. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 10, 391-398.

  • Sarubin, S. (2011). Big dog, bigger problem: conquering Igor's fear of cars was no small challenge. Whole Dog Journal, 14.

  • Sheppard, G. & Mills, D. (2003). Evaluation of dog-appeasing pheromone as a potential treatment for dogs fearful of fireworks. The Veterinary Record, 152, 432-436.

  • Anxiety Wrap:

  • Storm Defender:


For information on dog-dog relationships:

  • Smuts, B. (2014). Social behavior among companion dogs with an emphasis on play. The Social Dog (4).

  • Mardi, R. (2008). Someone old, someone new: how to keep your mixed-age dog pack safe and happy. Whole Dog Journal, 11, 18.

  • Pongracz, P., Vida, V., Banhegyi, P., Miklosi, A. (2008). How does dominance rank affect individual and social learning performance in the dog (Canis familiaris). Animal Cognition, 11, 75-82.

  • Simmons, L. (2006). How to deal with sibling rivalry in multi-dog households. Oakland Tribune, 1.

  • Rooney, N. Bradshaw, J., & Robinson, I. (2000). A comparison of dog-dog and dog-human play behaviour. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 66(3), 235-248.


For information on dog-human eye contact:


  • Byrne, R. (2003). Animal communication: What makes a dog able to undersand its master? Current Biology, 13, 347-348.

  • Layton, J. (2015). Why do dogs stare at you when they poop? The Dodo. Retreived from

  • Miklosi, A., Kubinyi, E., Topal, J., Gasci, M., Viranyi, Z., & Csanyi, V. (2003). A simple reason for a big difference: Wolves do not look back at humans, but dogs do. Current Biology, 13, 763-766.

  • Nagasawa, M. et al. (2015). Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds. Science, 348(6232), 333-336.


For information on pet loss grief:


  • Cohen, S. (2008). How to teach pet loss to veterinary students. Journal of Veterinary Medicince, 35(4), 514-519.

  • Cordaro, M. (2012). Pet loss and disenfranchised grief: Implications for mental health and counseling practice. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 34(4), 283-294.

  • Eckerd, L., Barnett, J., & Jett-Dias, L. (2016). Grief following pet and human loss: closeness is key. Death Studies.

  • Field, N., Orsini, L., Gavish, R., & Packman, W. (2009). Role of attachment in response to pet loss. Death Studies, 33(4), 334-355.


For information on dog domestication/genetics:


  • Axelsson, E. et al. (2013). The genomic signature of dog domestication reveal adaptation to starch-rich diet. Nature, 493, 360-365.

  • Boyko, A. et al. (2009). Complex population structure in African village dogs and its implication for inferring dog domestication history.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(33), 13903-13908.

  • Flannery, M. (2007). Dogs and humans. National Association of Biology Teachers, 69 (7), 422-425.

  • Shannon, L. et al. (2015). Genetic structure in village dogs reveals a Central Asian domestication origin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(44), 13639-13644.

  • Wayne, R. & vonHoldt, B. (2012). Evolutionary genomics of dog domestication. Mammalian Genome, 23, 3-18.

  • Vila, C. et al. (1997). Multiple and ancient origins of the domestic dog. Science, 276(5319), 1687-1689.


For information on the Animal Welfare Act:



For information on PIJAC:



For information on the ASPCA:



  • Favre, D. & Vivien, T. (1993). The developmet of the anti-cruelty laws in the 1800's. Detroit College of Law Review, 1993(1).


For information on the Humane Society:



For those of you who care for dogs as I do, this section should be particularly compelling. I have compiled what I believe to  be some of the most important "best practices" for interacting with dogs. The biological, psychological and sociological relationship between humans and dogs, which I presented in the preceding seven sections, lends itself to certain standards of behavior between the two species. I illustrate such existing standards below and offer my judgments.