Policy Papers


The purpose of the ASI Policy Papers series is to shape the U.S. political landscape by providing elected representatives, government officials, scholars, media and both animal protection and corporate stake-holders with the research analysis and data they need to inform the public policy debate on animal advocacy.

Through the Policy Papers series, ASI provides a unique venue where investigators can develop positions on current policy issues related to human-animal relationships. Authors use existing scientific and theoretical literature to present the pros and cons of particular practices involving our treatment of nonhuman animals, framing their scientifically and theoretically grounded analysis and commentary in terms of changes in practice through regulation and legislation.

Authored by experts in their field, our series of Policy Papers provide focused information on current topics of specialized interest. They are distributed to stakeholders, including the media, lobbyists and legislators, to help them make better informed decisions on specific matters relating to the animals’ interests.

The ASI has published ten Policy Papers between 2006 and 2013. All of our Policy Papers are now Open Access (CC BY-NC 4.0) and can be downloaded for free from the Animals & Society Institute Digital Archive or simply click on the paper’s title to read it in your browser.


Dog Bites: Problems and Solutions (Revised 2014)

This updated paper builds on the original 2006 edition with additional studies, statistics and examples of effective policies to address the issue of injurious dog bites. It takes an informed, common-sense, realistic look at the incidence and risk factors involved, and makes specific husbandry and policy recommendations to improve public safety and animal well-being.

This policy paper was made possible with the generous support of the National Canine Research Council.

Animal Dissection in Schools: Life Lessons, Alternatives and Humane Education (2013)

The practice of classroom dissection has long been one of the most controversial educational issues in America and beyond. This paper, written by Jan Oakley, Ph.D., of Lakehead University, looks at the history of dissection exercises and the implications they have for young students, including the ethical, environmental and economic factors involved. This paper serves as a handbook for supporting student choice policies and a move toward respecting the “life” in life sciences. A must-have resource for students, parents, educators, advocates and legislators working in support of humane science policies.

Parrot Breeding and Keeping: The Impact of Capture and Captivity (2013)

Once considered acceptable, wildlife capture, captivity, breeding and their associated laws and regulations are under ethical scrutiny. Reviewing and analyzing an extensive amount of scientific data, this 58-page paper focuses on the effects of capture and captivity on both wild and hand-reared parrots. Based on the evidence of how keeping “pet” birds harms both the individuals and species involved, the authors conclude that the pet trade conflicts with ethical and conservation goals, and that current laws and policies should reflect a more enlightened approach to parrot welfare.

by G. A. Bradshaw and Monica Engebretson.  This policy paper was made possible with the generous support of the Avian Welfare Coalition.

Endangered Species: Saving Them and Ourselves (2012)

This paper is a targeted approach to protecting imperiled animals and preserving global diversity.

For many reasons, ranging from climate change and habitat loss to overpopulation and consumer choices, thousands of animal species are now at various levels of risk of disappearing. Since human activities are the sources of many of these threats, extinctions reflect a wide range of human follies and miscalculations. To arrest this trend, changes in human consumption patterns, reproduction, cultural attitudes, energy sources, economic expectations, and more, are required. This paper argues that a range of solutions is needed; that they work together to create conditions favorable to species survival; and that some can work independently. While focused projects are the bread and butter of conservation, the overall movement must be broad and inclusive. Saving one species at a time is little help if its habitat is destroyed, and saving habitats is of limited help while climate change continues unchecked.

The Bioethics of Great Ape Well-Being (2011)

This paper outlines the scientific and legal basis for why the psychological harm suffered by chimpanzees compels banning their use in medical research and testing. It extensively documents laws and regulations concerning the use of nonhuman primates, and describes how chimpanzees suffer from post-traumatic stress and other severe ailments as a result of years of confinement and invasive experimental procedures, exemplified by the case study of an actual chimpanzee named Jeannie. This paper comes just as the U.S. is in the midst of discussing changes in policy regarding chimpanzee use, with federal legislation pending.

by Theodora Capaldo, Ed.D and G.A. Bradshaw, PhD, PhD, which was made possible with the generous support of NEAVS (The New England Anti-Vivisection Society).

The CAFO Hothouse: Climate Change, Industrial Agriculture, and the Law (2010)

Released on Earth Day 2010, the CAFO Hothouse policy paper addresses the hot topic of global warming by explaining how industrial animal agriculture has a huge impact on the environment, and why government policies have failed to protect animals, consumers and the planet. It documents the greenhouse gas emissions associated with intensive livestock farming, and traces lax regulation of agribusiness all the way back to the Nixon administration. Written by David N. Cassuto, a professor at Pace School of Law and the director of the Brazil-American Institute for Law and Environment, this paper provides specific and often overlooked evidence supporting the need to crack down on pollution generated by factory farming. It is an essential part of any discussion related to global climate change.

Dolphin-Human Interaction Programs: Policies, Problems and Alternatives (2009)

This paper offers an examination of dolphin protection policy related to dolphin-human interaction (swimming with dolphins) programs, both in the wild and in captivity. The authors, Kristin L. Stewart, J.D., Ph.D. and Lori Marino, Ph.D., are both noted dolphin experts who examine the circumstances under which dolphins are used in captive programs and allowed to be interacted with in the wild. They look at the role of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Animal Welfare Act in providing effective protection for dolphins used by commercial enterprises, and suggest improvements to laws relating to dolphin well-being.

Human-Animal Studies: Growing the Field, Applying the Field (2008)

Human-Animal Studies: Growing the Field, Applying the Field explores the importance of the emerging field of Human-Animal Studies in effecting progressive policies related to our treatment of animals.

Written by ASI Co-Founder and President Kenneth J. Shapiro, PhD.

The Animals and Society Institute would like to thank the Elinor Patterson-Baker Trust Fund for its support.

Elephants in Circuses: Analysis of Practice, Policy, and Future (2007)

“Elephants in Circuses: Analysis of practice, Policy and Future” by G. A. Bradshaw, Ph.D., addresses the history, use and treatment of elephants captured or bred for use in U.S. circuses. Dr. Bradshaw is a national expert on animal behavior in general and elephants in particular, whose research focuses on the effects of trauma on elephants.

In this paper, Dr. Bradshaw describes how captivity, transport and training affect the physical and mental well-being of elephants and outlines how such trauma and stress are manifested. She also gives an overview of current U.S. law pertaining to captive elephants, including the Animal Welfare Act and the Endangered Species Act. She concludes that “current understanding of elephant psychobiology, ethology and ecology indicates that existing standards regulating the care and health of elephants in captivity are highly inadequate and require revision,” and recommends that elephants used for entertainment be transferred to sanctuaries for appropriate care.

The ASI encourages anyone interested in promoting the well-being of captive elephants to obtain a copy of this paper and use it to educate legislators and other policy makers to make meaningful and immediate changes to the way in which elephants are used in this country.

Animals in Disasters: Responsibility and Action (2007)

Written by Leslie Irvine, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado, this paper offers an inclusive summary of the most up-to-date information about disaster response for animals in the United States. It looks at current laws and procedures related to rescuing animals in natural disaster situations, and provides set of proposed initiatives for not-for-profit organization and government agencies to prevent tragedies such as those occurring during Hurricane Katrina.

A must-have publication for state and local animal welfare agencies and rescue groups as a blueprint for better planning and life-saving procedures BEFORE another disaster occurs.

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