In the United States, concern about the care of animals has long been reflected in public policy and legislation as demonstrated by the following Acts.
- Twenty-Eight Hour - In 1873, Congress passed the Twenty-Eight Hour law which requires animals be unloaded from transport vehicles and given access to food , water and rest at least once every 28 hours.
- Humane Methods of Slaughter Act - The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, passed originally in 1958 and enforced by the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), governs the treatment and handling of all food animals slaughtered in USDA inspected slaughter plants (excluding poultry and rabbits).
- Animal Welfare Act - In 1966, the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was signed into law to regulate the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) enforces this law.
- Horse Protection Act - The Horse Protection Act prohibits sored horses from showing, sale, auction, exhibition, or transport. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) enforces the Act.
Individuals who engage in acts of animal cruelty can be charged and prosecuted at the state level. State animal cruelty laws vary widely and penalties can range from fines or jail time to removing animals from an individual’s care.