#62 Why the Animal Welfare Act Isn’t Working

#62 Why the Animal Welfare Act Isn’t Working

The idea of treating animals fairly didn’t somehow magically pop into policymaker’s minds in 1966, but that’s when we see the original Animal Welfare Act (AWA) passed by the United States government. Like many social justice initiatives, the work to pass the AWA started long before 1966, with animal welfare activists working hard to emphasize the importance of passing a law to represent the rights of animals.

Who is in Charge of Enforcing the Animal Welfare Act?

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Within the APHIS is a unit called USDA Animal Care. This unit is in charge of all aspects of the AWA, including the transportation, sale, and handling of certain animals and includes restrictions on the importation of live dogs for purposes of resale, prohibitions on animal fighting ventures, and provisions intended to prevent the theft of personal pets, per the USDA’s website. Unfortunately, the USDA isn’t fit for proper oversight of the AWA.

What Hurdles Stand in the Way of the AWA?

The USDA is not only guilty of burying data under their purview, but we’ve seen quite a bit of dismantling occur since 2017 regarding the core protections offered by the AWA. What happens next? A return to the fervent activism and awareness campaigns that spawned the original AWA in the first place.


Animal rights activists know full and well that the USDA is not in a position to fully enforce the AWA. That being said, the unit in charge of the law is under their umbrella, which is why it’s crucial to help educate citizens on what the USDA is failing to uphold, and why it’s so important they do so. Again, the American Welfare Act is not a progressive bill; activists would love to see more restrictions placed on those engaged in the improper treatment of animals. That being said, the bill as it is now isn’t being enforced, and that needs to change.

Breaking Down a Path Forward for the Animal Welfare Act

In this episode of Social Dog, hear the facts behind the Animal Welfare Act as it stands today. While it might look fine on paper, the USDA refuses to fully enforce the extent of the law. Not to mention, the requirements to abide by the AWA are modest at best, with plenty of room for more amendments and alterations to better protect animals in captivity, animals kept by breeders, and pets found within pet stores. Check out the episode here, and find out more about what you can do to advocate for the full enforcement of the ADA!

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Social Dog is a podcast for dog lovers, hosted by Cindie Carter. Cindie is the owner of Walks and Wags, a highly successful pet sitting and training center. With decades of experience with animals of all temperaments and behaviors, Social Dog is a podcast where Cindie shares her knowledge and experiences with incredible and informative guests. You can even read more about Cindie’s expertise in a free PDF, “Learn How to Introduce Your Dog to Another Dog.

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