Animal Studies Bibliography

Rowan, A. 1989. The development of the animal protection movement. Journal of NIH Research 1(November/December): 97-100.

Though there has always been concern for animals, the animal protection movement (an umbrella term combining animal welfare and animal rights activism) began with the 1820s founding of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, followed by the formation of American SPCAs in the 1860s. The last quarter of the 1800s was the high point of animal protection, with an animal research regulation bill gaining wide support, probably defeated in part because of the 1894 discovery of the diptheria antitoxin, which was the first medical advance clearly attributable to animal research. By WWI, interest had waned, and animal protection societies focused on leash and anti-cruelty laws and educational programs for kids. In the 1950s, interest began to grow again, and several new national organizations were founded to address institutionalized animal abuse (trapping, animal research, slaughter, etc.). Slow but steady membership growth was given a boost by Singer's Animal Liberation in 1975, which helped the movement overcome the stigma of emotionalism and encouraged professionals and educated people to become involved. Few scholars have even tried to refute Singer's argument. Since 1975, animal protection organizations have seen huge growth in membership and funds. These two peaks of interest occur at times when other social factors peaked as well, suggesting possible connections. First, after Darwin, there was a period of interest in animal cognition and intelligence in the late 1800s. Attention to this facet of animal life surely led people to concern over their treatment. By the 1900s, however, scientists were moving toward behaviorism and conditioning, and this change corresponds with the decline in animal rights interest. A revival of interest in animal cognition, made public through nature shows and stories about primate sign language, occurred in the 1960s, the same time the animal protection efforts were growing again. Second, the period after WWII was a time of concern for the exploited. People involved in movements like the civil rights movement, the anti-war effort, and the feminist movement often expanded their concerns to include animals and added that movement as well. These activists brought important tactics to the animal protection effort. A prominent example is Henry Spira, who led the fight against the feline sexuality research at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC (a landmark case) and the fight against the Draize test. The movement was also helped by the fact that Singer's rational arguments encouraged professionals to join and form their own organizations. Professionals are important members of the movement because they are often better at influencing policy and getting media attention. Third, the women's movement increased women's participation in public life. Since women are more likely to care for others, including animals, and have been shown to be more likely than men to have participated in animal protection activities, the feminist movement surely had an effect of the growth of animal protection. Animal research has been the major concern of animal protections efforts in both peak periods. The activists argue that the animals are helpless victims who do not deserve such treatment (and sometimes say that perhaps criminals should be used instead). This criticism of animal research is assisted by people's experience of lack of control in modern medicine, and the public perception (aided by media portrayals) of scientists as heartless. This attitude means that although people generally support animal research, they are easily convinced that a particular experiment is cruel. Scientists often claim that animal protection has had such an effect because of its successful use of the media, but in fact, William Randolph Hearst's media effort in the 1940s had little effect, suggesting that animal protection groups are simply taking advantage of the recent surge in concern for animals. Scientists are unlikely to be able to return animal protection to its former marginal status, because people are now more willing to question the effects of scientific advances. It is difficult to predict whether the public will continue its interest in the animal protection movement. It will depend in part on the movement's use of media and professionals to fight the now-alert research organizations.


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