Government and Professional Resources

United States government building

This page provides information on federal laws, and regulations that govern animals used in research, testing, teaching, and exhibition. It also provides animal welfare guidelines, policies and codes of practices from around the world.


Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Welfare Act was signed into law in 1966. While its original intent was to regulate the care and use of animals in the laboratory, it has become the only Federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. Other laws, policies, and guidelines may include additional species coverage or specifications for animal care and use, but all refer to the Animal Welfare Act as the minimum acceptable standard.

Humane Methods of Slaughter Act

Originally passed in 1958, the law that is enforced today by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) was passed as the Humane Slaughter Act of 1978. This Act requires the proper treatment and humane handling of all food animals slaughtered in USDA inspected slaughter plants. It does not apply to chickens or other birds.

Horse Protection Act

Enforced by USDA-Animal Care, this law prohibits horses subjected to a process called soring from participating in exhibitions, sales, shows, or auctions.

Twenty-Eight Hour Law

Originally enacted in 1873 and 1906, the law was repealed and reenacted in 1994 by PL 103-272. This law requires that animals being transported across state lines (by truck, rail carrier, express carrier, or common carrier (except by air or water)) may not be confined for more than 28 consecutive hours without being unloaded for food, water, and rest. The law is also known as the "Cruelty to Animals Act," the "Live Stock Transportation Act," and the "Food and Rest Law." It does not apply to poultry or to animals being transported in a vehicle where they have food, water, space, and the ability to rest.