This study situates organized concern for animals in relation to other post-Civil War reforms--including temperance and child protection. It explains the rise of humane work in light of antebellum trends in law, education, philosophy, and religion, and the perception that animals were at the heart of many sanitary and public health concerns. It qualifies interpretations that reduce animal protection to an exercise in social control. It denies the importance of the Darwinian assertion that humans were animals to the movement's formation. Finally, it disputes claims that concern for animals served a "displacement" function until some human reforms became socially acceptable.