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“I remember in my little hometown of Russell seeing some things, particularly how dogs were tied up in the hot sun and left there all day long. Those little impressions when you’re a kid sort of stick with you.” – Senator Dole, AP, February 28, 2008)
In 1974, Senator Dole learned the Army was using beagles to experiment with toxins used in chemical and biological warfare. Outraged, he introduced a bill to outlaw experiments that would result in needless or excessive suffering, saying, “It is time for the Congress to help stop this barbaric cruelty.”
Four years later, Dole supported a second important piece of animal welfare legislation. “Our national morality and concern for other living creatures demand legislation to prevent needless suffering by the animals that provide such an important part of our food supply.” With those words, Dole introduced the 1978 amendments to the Humane Slaughter Act which strengthened the original law and mandated methods of enforcement.
Prior to 1978, meatpacking facilities were required to comply with humane standards for slaughter only when they were supplying meat to the federal government, leaving roughly 20 percent of meatpackers fully unregulated. The law only applied to domestic suppliers and included no methods for enforcement.
Unsatisfied with the current system, Dole and Representative George Brown (D-CA) sought to expand the law to include all meatpacking facilities supplying meat to Americans, both here and abroad, and established a system by which federal inspectors visit meatpacking facilities to ensure compliance with the law.
In 1983, Dole introduced legislation to protect the rights of animals used in laboratory experiments. The legislation required any institution using animals for research to have an animal care committee and to take steps to minimize stress and pain. Dole was recognized by the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals with their Award for Humane Excellence in recognition of this legislation.
Two years later, the Senate enacted amendments to the Animal Welfare Act of 1966, which provided safeguards for more than 100 million animals used in research
In 1986, Dole was recognized with the Albert Schweitzer Medal “for outstanding contributions to animal welfare” by the Animal Welfare Institute for his 1978 amendments to the Humane Slaughter Act, as well as his leadership in later enacting the 1985 Improved Standards for Laboratory Animals Act.