Full Title Name:  1970 Amendments to AWA, House Report No. 91-1651

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Country of Origin:  United States Citation:  House Report No. 91-1651 Agency Origin:  Congress, House

By 1970 it was apparent that changes in the law would be required if the goal of humane treatment of animals was to be realized. There were four areas of significant change to the AWA in the 1970 amendments.

            The Committee on Agriculture, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. 19864) to amend the Act of August 24, 1966, relating to the care of certain animals used for purposes of research experimentation, exhibition, or held for sale as pets, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with amendments and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.




P.L., 91-579



            This bill represents a continuing commitment by Congress to the ethic of kindness to dumb animals.

            Beginning with the legislation passed in 1966 (Public Law 89-544), the United States Government has implemented a statutory mandate that small helpless creatures deserve the care and protection of a strong and enlightened public.  This bill strengthens the administration of that Act, and it expands the perimeters of its protection to more animals and to more people who handle, exhibit, buy or sell, or transport them or who use them in the pursuit of medical and scientific knowledge.

            It reflects the philosophy of caring for animals enunciated by W. D. Hoard in 1885 who said: “The stupid brutishness of men who are too ignorant of their own interests to be gentle and humane finds, at last, sharp punishment, for God, ever just to the least of his creatures, denies such men profit or prosperity and thereat — all good men say, ‘Amen!’”

            H.R. 19846 is a bill which is the result of careful consideration by the Livestock and Grains Subcommittee and the full Committee on Agriculture.  It is an effort to demonstrate America’s humanity to lesser creatures while maintaining and promoting the national enlightenment in medicine for the care of all mankind.  It is a bill which initially was controversial, but which, by virtue of good reason and good will and deliberation and discussion by many persons of divergent views, was able to command the unanimous approval of the Committee on Agriculture as well as the joint sponsorship of the entire membership of the Livestock and Grains Subcommittee.




            The basic purposes of this bill are four-fold:

            First, the bill expands the definition of the term “animal” to include more species.  At present the Act applies only to live dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, and monkeys (nonhuman primate mammals).  This bill includes within its definition all warm-blooded animals designated by the Secretary with only limited and specifically defined exceptions.

            Second, the bill regulates more people who handle animals.  It will, for example, bring into the regulatory framework of the Act for the first time exhibitors (such as circuses, zoos, carnivals, and road shows) and wholesale pet dealers.

            Third, the bill establishes by law the humane ethic that animals should be accorded the basic creature comforts of adequate housing, ample food and water, reasonable handling, decent sanitation, sufficient ventilation, shelter from extremes of weather and temperature, and adequate veterinary care including the appropriate use of pain-killing drugs.  At the same time this ethic is embraced, the bill recognizes the responsibility and specifically preserves the necessary domain of the medical community.  The bill in no manner authorizes the disruption or interference with scientific research or experimentation.  Under this bill the research scientist still holds the key to the laboratory door.  This committee and the Congress, however, expect that the work that’s done behind that laboratory door will be done with compassion and with care.

            Fourth, the bill strengthens the Secretary’s enforcement powers under the Act by broadening the statutory concept of “commerce,” by increasing the penalties against persons convicted of interfering with, assaulting, or killing government inspectors, and by broadening the discovery procedures for obtaining adequate information to sustain proper administration.




            Public hearings on H.R. 13957 by Mr. Whitehurst were held on June 8 and 9, 1970.  The subcommittee on Livestock and grains held six executive sessions on H.R. 13957 and H.R. 18637 by Mr. Foley.  As a result of these meetings and numerous discussions, the subcommittee unanimously approved the language of H.R. 19846 on November 19, 1970.  The full committee ordered H.R. 19846 reported to the House by a unanimous vote in the presence of a quorum on November 24, 1970.

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            In its consideration of H.R. 19846 the committee carefully considered both the language and the legal construction of that language in several sections of the bill.  In reflection of that consideration the committee submits the following expressions of intent:

            In regard to the amendment to section 2(b) of the Act, the committee does not contemplate the designation of private citizens or non-Federal Government employees in the administration of this legislation.

            In regard to the amendment to section 13 of the Act, it is the intention of the committee that the Secretary neither directly nor in-directly in any manner interfere with or harass research facilities during the conduct of actual research and experimentation.  The important determination of when an animal is in actual research is left to the research facility itself.  Research or experimentation is also intended to include use of animals as “teaching aids in educational institutions.”



            In regard to the amendment to section 17 of this Act, the committee intends that inspection under this section shall be specifically limited to searches for lost or stolen pets by officers of the law (not owners themselves) and that the term “legally constituted law enforcement agencies” means agencies with general law enforcement authority and not those agencies whose law enforcement duties are limited to enforcing local animal regulations.

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It is not intended that this section be used by private citizens or law enforcement officers to harass research facilities and in no event shall such officers inspect the animals when the animals are undergoing actual research or experimentation.


            In regard to the amendments to Section 20 of the Act, committee reiterates its policy expressed in the conference report on P.L., 89-544 that in the case of research facilities the Secretary may grant individual extensions of time to certain of these facilities if he is convinced that these facilities will be able to meet the requirements of the regulations within a reasonable length of time.  The purpose of this authority is to enable those research institutions whose compliance depends on obtaining additional funds for construction or personnel to secure such funds.


            In this connection the committee also urges that adequate funds from Federal sources be made available for those research facilities which depend to a large extent on support derived from both State and Federal sources for laboratory facility improvements.




            The current program is financed in part by license fees, which are deposited into the Treasury as “Miscellaneous Receipts,” and appropriations will be $352,600.  (Fiscal year 1971 agriculture appropriation bill (H.R. 17923) was in conference between House and Senate at time of this report.)  Additional inspections of research facilities and dealers are conducted, as far as possible, by existing trained field personnel.  The added responsibilities imposed by this bill will increase the Department’s program costs by an estimated $1.2 million per year.


NOTE: There was no Senate Report concerning this legislation.  Additionally, the Senate passed the House bill without change, therefore there was no conference or conference report.


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