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The Gospel of KindnessAnimal Welfare and the Making of Modern America$
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Janet M. Davis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199733156

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199733156.001.0001

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(p.209) Conclusion
The Gospel of Kindness

Janet M. Davis

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the changing status of the American humane movement during the World War II era. During the war, animals played an important role in military transportation. The American Red Star Animal Relief cared for military and civilian animals overseas. Yet motorization soon prevailed, thus changing a movement originally founded to protect laboring animals. The diverse coalition comprising the gospel of kindness weakened in the face of secularization, declining temperance activism, the professionalization of social work, anticolonial movements overseas, the mainstreaming of vivisection as scientific practice, and the SPCA movement’s retreat from direct civil rights activism. SPCAs now focused on sheltering, population control, and veterinary care. Yet the treatment of animals is still tied to questions of national belonging, pluralism, and civilization. Moreover, legacies of the older gospel of human and animal kindness remain, most notably in Pope Francis’s encyclical, a plea for human, animal, and environmental justice.

Keywords:   Red Star Animal Relief, World War II, parasite control, civil rights activism, animal welfare, Pope Francis encyclical

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