In the half-century or so after the civil war, a “humane” movement grew up which encouraged kindness to animals, compassion for humans, and a reverence for life. Albert Schweitzer’s 1952 Nobel Prize was a culmination of this popular thinking. Two years after that ceremony, the Humane Society of the U.S. was formed specifically to reduce cruelty to animals. The organization’s first priority was humane slaughtering of food animals. The founding principles of the society “do not consider the utilization of animals for food to be either immoral or inappropriate,” explained a former head of the group, but the organization “opposes and seeks to prevent all use or exploitation of animals that causes pain, suffering, or fear.” Supported entirely by member donations and philanthropic gifts, the Humane Society of the United States is today the largest animal protection organization in the country, with a $174 million budget.
- Humane Society of the United States, humanesociety.org/about
- Bernard Unti, Protecting All Animals (Humane Society of the United States, 2004)