The Animal Welfare Act, also known as the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act, was enacted in 1966 and has been amended several times. It is the only Federal law regulating the treatment of research animals, public exhibition of animals, commercial transport of animals and animals bred for commercial sale. It was passed in 1966 to prevent stealing pets for sale to research facilities and amended in 1970 to improve the treatment of animals already used for research.
Other laws and guidelines may include specifications for animal care and use of additional species. The Animal Welfare Act is considered the minimum acceptable standard. Birds, rats and mice used for research were excluded in 2002 amendment.
Another amendment included stronger provisions against animal fighting and increased penalties for violation of the Act.
Standards include space, feeding, bedding, exercise and transportation for individual species.