About ALF > History


Timeline of Events:


Lab Animal Welfare Act (LAWA) of USA signed into law 1 

Ruth Harrison writes Animal Machines and publicizes the welfare issues of modern farming practices to Britain. 2,3

Subsequent to the publication of Animal Machines, Britain forms the Brambell Committee to investigate animal welfare in agriculture. They issue a series of recommendations on prohibiting debeaking, docking of pig's tails, tethering of sows and of veal calves. Their report stated that all animals should have "five freedoms:" freedom of movement to be able to turn around, groom itself, get up, lie down, and stretch its limbs." The recommendations are never put into law. 2,3,4

Growing animal rights activism in Britain feeds the future U.S. animal rights movement 2,5


Rhode Island law signed prohibiting the seizure of pound animals for laboratory use. 2

New Jersey law signed prohibiting the seizure of pound animals for laboratory use 2

Congress passes and later amends the Horse Protection Act 1

Congress passes amendments to the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act (LAWA) and renames it the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) 1

U.S. passes and ratifies several national and international acts protecting species from extinction and endangerment; e.g. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, Endangered Species Act, Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES)

The term 'speciesism' is coined referring to the belief that humans are more important than other species. 2 The book Animal Liberation draws a connection between speciesism,  sexism, and racism 3

Diet for a Small Planet published, popularizing the concept of vegetarianism for environmental, socio-economic, and animal welfare reasons 6

The newly-emerging movement succeeds in stopping experiments on cats at the New York Museum of Natural History. This is the first victory of the animal rights movement and the first time the American press refers to the activists as 'animal rights activists' versus 'animal lovers.' 2

The animal rights movement successfully repeals the Metcalf-Hatch Act which required municipal pounds to sell animals to research. 2

The Animal Rights Network forms in the U.S. and begins publication of the Animals' Agenda, a bimonthly magazine designed to educate and advocate about animal rights issues as well as to aid cooperation between animal rights organizations. 7,8

The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) forms out of the group Band of Mercy and steps up actions in Great Britain 2,5

Three 'liberation' raids are claimed by U.S. animal rights groups 5


Switzerland begins phasing out battery cages for poultry by requiring 500cm for caged 2 birds. 2,9

European Commission bans the importation of seal fur. 2,9

European Community (EC) agrees to minimum hen cage size of 450 cm by 1995 and 2 bans imports of pelts from leghold traps beginning in 1995. 2,9

European Parliament recommends (but cannot require) that battery cages be phased out by 1997. 2,9

Britain requires that a calf must be able to turn around without difficulty and be fed "sufficient iron to maintain it in full health and vigour" and enough fiber for normal development of the rumen. 2,9

Sweden outlaws battery cages and mandates that farm and fur production animals must be maintained in "as natural an environment as possible." 2,9

U.S. Animal Welfare Act is amended to increase psychological requirements for primates and to require exercise for dogs 1

After judgment against USDA, APHIS issues new horse protection rules 1

REAC and other units added to APHIS in major restructuring 1

Secretary of Agriculture orders ten projects studying farm animal welfare. In 1984, the USDA releases a 1 ' page Interpretive Summary of the studies. Activists claim a USDA coverup and that the veal industry was leaked the report prior to it's public release 2,10

Alex Hershaft brings together leaders from animal rights and vegetarian movements in an organized manner for the first time. The result is the creation of multiple organizations, each with a slightly different area of animal rights to address 2,11

Diet for a New America published. Connects animal welfare, healthy eating, and vegetarianism 12

Veal Ban Campaign started by Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM). Alex Hershaft dramatizes the plight of the veal calf by confining himself to a veal crate for 24 hours outside of the White House. 2

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), is founded and provides high-level organization and political savvy. Well-publicized and successful campaigns on local and national levels increase support for the movement. 2

Alex Pacheco investigates and publicizes welfare conditions of primates at Edward Taub's Institute for Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, MD. Despite legal reversals of PETA's initial success in obtaining the monkeys, the movement is inspired by Pacheco's ability to infiltrate the lab and by the effect on the public of his revelations. 2

The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) steals a 60-minute video of head-injury experiments on baboons at the University of Pennsylvania and gives the tape surreptitiously to PETA for publicity. The publicity and subsequent protests result in NIH funding being cut off for the laboratory. One of the most successful and publicized campaigns for ALF, PETA and the movement. 2

ALF sets fire to the new research facility at UC Davis, intended for agricultural research, while it is still under construction, causing $4.5 million in damages. The most costly extremist action to date. 2,5

Fur market facing downturn. There is at least some relation to anti-fur campaigns 2

Animal rights 'liberation' raids total 226, with the majority (105) occurring 1987-1988. 5

PETA's membership tops 350,000. 5

Animal Industry Foundation (AIF) formed to counteract animal rights movement (1987) 13


In Switzerland traditional battery cages outlawed, hens must have access to protected, soft-floored nest boxes. 2,9

European Community bans imports of pelts from leghold traps beginning in 1995. 2,9

In the Netherlands battery cages outlawed, access to nest boxes and scratching areas will be mandated with minimum of 1,000 cm2 /bird.  2,9

New Zealand adopts formal codes of minimum standards for the welfare of farm animals 14

U.S. Animal Welfare Act amended on passage of the Pet Theft Act 1

U.S. District Court rules that USDA had acted capriciously in excluding rats, mice, and birds from provisions of the LAWA, forcing their inclusion. 2

USDA Farm and Animal Welfare Committee (interdepartmental) group was formed to recommend USDA policy statements and actions regarding farm animal welfare. Draft documents are prepared, but no public release of the information or other formal actions or follow ups are taken. 15

Largest animal welfare penalty to date (1995) levied on an Iowa dog breeder, $200,000 fine assessed and license is permanently revoked 1

Due to the pressure from publicity, United Stockyards changes its policy and euthanizes downer livestock. 2

PETA's leaders, Alex Pacheco and Ingrid Newkirk are asked to give writing samples and fingerprints to the FBI as their involvement with 'liberation' activities is suspected to be greater than simple public support. 2

Winter, 1996-1997: Protester throws Bison entrails at Secretary Glickman

ALF raids total 84 from January, 1990-June, 1993. 5 Multiple raids on mink farms occur  later 16

PETA membership reaches 600,000 17

Essential concepts

Table 1 lists the significant differences in philosophies, beliefs, and activities of animal use proponents, animal welfare groups, and the animal rights movement. Note that the current central position in the debate is held by welfarists, who do not accept 'factory farming.'

Table 1: The differences in philosophy of animal use proponents, animal welfare groups, and animal rights groups 18

  Animal Use Animal Welfare Animal Rights
philosophy and beliefs Animals do not require the same ethical considerations as humans, as humanity's needs supersede those of animals.

The most humane way to treat animals is best determined by the researchers or producers using them. Outside determinations of humane treatment is disruptive/ inefficient and often ignorant/ incorrect

Humans are seen as stewards of animals, and therefore humans should protect animals from unnecessary harm and pain.

Outside oversight of animal uses is necessary to ensure animals' welfare.

Animals have equal rights as humans and therefore any use of animals is exploitation. Justifying the exploitation of animals is 'speciesism,' the belief that one species is better than another.

Exploitation of animals should be completely outlawed.

activities involving animals which are considered acceptable all current uses for research, production of medicines and medical items, and for food and fiber/clothing, hunting, fishing, other animal sports. Only those uses which are absolutely necessary , such as food and medical research which cannot be produced without animals. Animals should be killed painlessly; their mental and physical welfare should be considered under all circumstances.

Oppose: the use of pound animals for experiments, animals for blood sports, and 'factory farming'

As 'companion animals' ie. animals which are given the same treatment as members of the family or allowed to be wild animals. Animals should be allowed to determine their relations with humans, rather than the reverse.

 No use for food, fiber, research or any other reason is tolerable.


social/political activities Educational, legislative, and through advertisements.

There is some suspicion that an animal rights activist was entrapped by a research facility on the east coast. 19

Animal rights groups claim that the 'biomedical/food production' industry promotes false claims about the welfare of animals in use.

Legislative and educational. Work to increase oversight of animal uses and to educate the public about responsibility toward pets and other animals.

Welfarists are rarely involved in significant controversy. However, animal rightists see them as diminishing the effectiveness of the rights movement.

Educational, legislative, through advertisements, through promotion of vegetarianism, and through illegal, destructive activities against animal use industries and research.

Animal use proponents claim that animal rightists make false and misleading claims regarding the welfare and condition of animals in animal use industries


Sophistication of the animal rights movement on political and media levels 2,11

Increased public concern regarding health issues, environmental issues, and animal welfare issues related to food consumption

Continued dependence of the animal rights movement on the connection between animal rights and environmental and food safety issues. That is, the animal rights argument is essentially a philosophical argument. In order to justify their call for changes on socio-political and legislative levels, the movement must tie animal rights to other issues which more legitimately include the entire society. Therefore, they consistently tie animal rights issues to environmental and food safety issues. 11

Increasing extremist/terrorist animal rights activism: increasing numbers of incidents with increasing levels of violence toward property and individuals (partly uncertain, but considered likely since the U.S. movement has so far followed the British movement toward extremism) 5

The expansion of the animal rights movement into the "Are-you-kidding?" industries: fishing, horse racing/showing/rodeo, etc. 17,20

The incorporation of agriculture, leading to the centralizing of resources to oppose the animal rights movement The 'graying' of the American farmer

Ignorance about agriculture for the majority of Americans. (98%)

The continued desire for inexpensive, nutritious, satiating, protein sources

Uncertainties for the future:

The effect of the public's image of USDA on our ability to effectively intervene

            For: "the good guys."

            Against/barriers: "In the pocket of the Industry"

Who will win the war for the minds of the youth and the consumer?

Animal Rights

    1) youthfulness of the movement;
    2) media and political savvy,
    3) effectiveness of educational outreach, 11
    4) intent to dig in for the 'long haul;'
    5) potential for the movement to 'pull' the central/moderate position of the debate in their direction due in part to extremist activities. (Note similarity to the shift of the central position in the abortion debate despite extremist/terrorist activities).

    1) need to keep specific issues salient (ie. constantly in the mind of the public) for continued effectiveness, especially as the movement attempts to discourage the public from eating meat. (Note that most self-proclaimed vegetarians often eat some animal meat, and many eat dairy products.)
    2) possibly insecure funding in the form of contributions
    3) no clear idea of how much consumers are willing to spend for animal welfare
    4) possibly spreading the movement too thinly across too many extreme issues
the extremism of the animal rights philosophy likely to be unacceptable to the majority of consumers
    6) the possibility that the terrorist activities will offend the movement's supporters.


    1) historical 'in' with education
    2) monetary powerhouse if resources utilized for the purpose
    3) ability to cooperate/share resources with biomedical establishment
    4) traditional public support of agriculture
    5) consumers' desire for inexpensive meat protein

    1) aging farm population
    2) ignorance of 98% of consumer population which is not involved in agricultural production
    3) image problem: the lay public is not likely to accept that confinement and intensive operations are humane as claimed by industry
    4) image problem: agricultural promotions are inconsistently media-savvy, (Note that 'the incredible egg' is making a comeback while red meat is still struggling against poultry)
    5) 'ignore it & it will go away' mentality toward the animal rights movement

If animal welfare issues are addressed by VS, how to do so? Legislatively; market-oriented approach with or without certification; research and educationally only?

If animal welfare issues are addressed by VS in a manner considered 'adequate' by the general public, will this reduce or increase the influence of the animal rights movement on public policy? What about in regard to the animal welfare movement?

Will consumers' demand for animal-welfare-friendly products increase, or will they remain relatively stable over time?

If demand for animal-friendly products increases, how much will consumers be willing to spend in addition to what they currently spend on food in order to obtain these 'friendlier' products?

Will producers be able to meet consumers' desires for animal-friendly products within what consumers are willing to pay?


1. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. APHIS history. APHIS web site: 1995; .

2. Finsen L, Finsen S. The animal rights movement in America. New York, NY: Wayne Publishers, 1994

3. Singer P. Animal Liberation. New York: Avon Books, 1990

4. Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). News release: welfare of farm animals a growing concern. CAST website: September 17, 1997; 

5. Anthony SF, Branstool E. Report to Congress on the extent and effects of domestic and international terrorism on animal enterprises. Arlington, VA: Animal Industry Foundation, 1993

6. Lappe', FM. Diet for a small planet. New York: Ballantine Books, 1991

7. Rosenberg K. of the Animals' Agenda. Personal communication. Baltimore, MD: the Animal Rights Network, January, 1998.

8. The Animals' Agenda. Web page: mission statement. Website: January 2, 1998; 

9. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA, Beary B, Brisk F, et. al. Animals and their legal rights: a survey of american laws from 1641 to 1990. Washington, DC: Animal Welfare Institute, 1990

10. Uncredited. Veal calf stress confirmed; USDA covers up. Animals' Agenda 1984; 6: 10-11.

11. Reynnells, RD. Poultry and animal rights---update. Lexington, KY: National Egg Quality School, 1994

12. Robins J. Diet for a new America. Walpole, NH: Stillpoint Publishing, 1987

13. Animal Industry Foundation. Webpage: welcome to animal industry foundation (AIF). Website, 1998. 

14. Allen, T. Fact sheet: codes of practice and international guidelines on farm animal welfare. Beltsville, MD: Animal Welfare Information Center, 1996

15. Grimes J. Personal communication. December, 1997

16. Animal Liberation Frontline Information Service. Webpages: contents, uncensored news, news archive. Website, January 27, 1997.  and 

17. Staff member in public relations office. Personal communication. Norfolk, VA: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), January, 1998

18. Modified from table: Attitudes to animals: an overview of animal-related organizations. A preliminary classification. In: Albright, JL. Animal welfare issues: a critical analysis. In: Reynnells RD, Eastwood BR. Animal welfare issues compendium: a collection of 14 discussion papers. Washington, DC: USDA, Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, Plant and Animal Production, Protection and Processing, 1997:6

19. Welsh HJ. Animal Testing and Consumer Products. Washington, DC: Investor Responsibility Research Center. 1990

20. Spitler RJ. The animal rights movement and fisheries: they're heeeeere! Fisheries, 1998; 23,1: 21-22

21. Reynnells RD. Personal Communication. January, 1998

22. Uncredited.Vegetarianism limited in U.S. Animal Industry Foundation. 1997; 10,7: 5, (citing research reports by Hart PD and MRCA Information Resources.)

Fair Use Notice and Disclaimer
Send questions or comments about this web site to Ann Berlin,