Animal Welfare Institute
Animal Welfare Institute
Founded in 1951, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) is a non-profit organization that works to educate the public and to secure needed action to protect animals. AWI is a highly respected, influential, and effective group that works with Congress, the public, the news media, government officials, and the conservation community on animal protection programs and projects. Its major goals include improving the treatment of laboratory animals and a reduction in their use; eliminating cruel methods of trapping wildlife ; saving species from extinction ; preventing painful experiments on animals in schools and encouraging humane science teaching; improving shipping conditions for animals in transit; banning the importation of parrots and other exotic wild birds for the pet industry; and improving the conditions under which farm animals are kept, confined, transported, and slaughtered.
In 1971 AWI launched the Save the Whales Campaign to help protect whales . The organization provides speakers and experts for conferences and meetings around the world, including Congressional hearings and international treaty and commission meetings. Each year, the institute awards its prestigious Albert Schweitzer Medal to an individual for outstanding achievement in the advancement of animal welfare. Its publications include The AWI Quarterly ; books such as Animals and Their Legal Rights ; Facts about Furs ; and The Endangered Species Handbook ; booklets, brochures, and other educational materials, which are distributed to schools, teachers, scientists, government officials, humane societies, libraries, and veterinarians.
AWI works closely with its associate organization, The Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL), a lobbying group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1955, SAPL devotes its efforts to supporting legislation to protect animals, often mobilizing its 14,000 "correspon dents" in letter-writing campaigns to members of Congress. SAPL has been responsible for the passage of more animal protection laws than any other organization in the country, and perhaps the world, and it has been instrumental in securing the enactment of 14 federal laws.
Major federal legislation which SAPL has promoted includes the first federal Humane Slaughter Act in 1958 and its strengthening in 1978; the 1959 Wild Horse Act; the 1966 Laboratory Animal Welfare Act and its strengthening in 1970, 1976, 1985, and 1990; the 1969 Endangered Species Act and its strengthening in 1973; a 1970 measure banning the crippling or "soring" of Tennessee Walking Horses; measures passed in 1971 prohibiting hunting from aircraft, protecting wild horses, and resolutions calling for a moratorium on commercial whaling ; the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act; negotiation of the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES); the 1979 Packwood-Magnuson Amendment protecting whales and other ocean creatures; the 1981 strengthening of the Lacey Act to restrict the importation of illegal wildlife; the 1990 Pet Theft Act; and, in 1992, The Wild Bird Conservation Act, protecting parrots and other exotic wild birds; the International Dolphin Conservation Act, restricting the killing of dolphins by tuna fishermen; and the Driftnet Fishery Conservation Act, protecting whales, sea birds, and other ocean life from being caught and killed in huge, 30-mi-long (48-km-long) nets.
Major goals of SAPL include enacting legislation to end the use of cruel steel-jaw leg-hold traps and to secure proper enforcement, funding, administration, and reauthorization of existing animal protection laws. Both AWI and SAPL have long been headed by their chief volunteer, Christine Stevens, a prominent Washington, D.C. humanitarian and community leader.
[Lewis G. Regenstein ]