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Animal Law, Including Animal Cruelty, Pet Trusts, Custody Battles

Not actually a single area of law practice, animal law encompasses a variety of issues, including animal cruelty, pet trusts, custody battles, housing, humane agriculture laws, and wildlife protection. The information on this website is not legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.

How can I find an animal lawyer?
How to find an animal rights lawyer. Includes link to animal attorney referral page.

Overview of the Animal Welfare Act
Summary of the Animal Welfare Act - Which facilities are covered? Which animals are covered? Which animals are exlcuded? How does the AWA protect animals? What are the AWA regulations? What are the criticisms of the AWA?

What is the Marine Mammal Protection Act?
Brief descrition and definition of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Which animals are covered, and which actions are prohibited?

First Ag-Gag Laws in United States Are Over Twenty Years Old
Ag-gag laws are in the news in 2012, and many consider Iowa to have the nation's first ag-gag law, but the first ag-gag laws were passed over twenty years ago.

What is a Pet Trust?
What is a pet trust? Plain English explanation of a pet trust.

What is the Endangered Species Act?
What is the Endangered Species Act? What is the purpose of the ESA? Which activities are prohibited under the ESA, and which federal agencies administer the ESA?

What is CITES and How Does it Protect Endangered Species?
CITES is an acronym for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. But how does CITES work, and what is or isn't covered by CITES?

What is Animal Cruelty?
The term "animal cruelty" gets thrown around a lot, but an animal activist's definition of animal cruelty may be very different from that of a hunter, a vivisector or a farmer. There is also a legal definition of "animal cruelty" that varies by state in the U.S., to confuse things further.

Overview of the Humane Slaughter Act
The Humane Slaughter Act is one of the few protections offered to farmed animals in the United States. The law is problematic from an animal welfare point of view, and oxymoronic from an animal rights viewpoint.

What is Pet Theft and Why Does it Happen?
Organized pet thieves are stealing dogs and cats - any dogs and cats they can get their hands on - for profit and for cruel purposes.

Animal Advocates and Agribusiness Interests Divided on Egg Bill
A bill that would create a uniform national standard for the housing and treatment of egg-laying hens codifies a compromise agreement between The Humane Society of the US and the United Egg Producers.

Limit Laws
"Limit laws" are designed to protect people, pets and neighbors, but animal advocates oppose limit laws because they hurt so many innocent people and pets. There are better ways to achieve the same goals.

Overview of the 28 Hour Law for Livestock Transport
Federal law dictates that livestock being transported but be given a five hour rest every 28 hours, when they can eat, drink and move around. But like the Humane Slaughter Act, the 28 Hour Law excludes chickens, which make up 90% of the land animals slaughtered for food in the United States

Veterinary Malpractice
You have two main options for what you can do about veterinary malpractice, and you can pursue one or both options. Whatever you decide to do, you should act quickly before potential evidence is lost or destroyed and before the statute of limitations runs.

Animals as Property
Abolishing the property status of all animals would be a great step forward in animal rights, because it would make it more difficult, if not impossible, for animal exploiters to continue using animals. On a more practical level, there are important legal reasons why pets should not be treated as property, so the debate over the property status of animals usually centers around pets.

Animal Rights Activists File Lawsuit Against AETA
In December of 2011, five animal rights activists filed a lawsuit to try to invalidate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). Represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, they argue that the law is unconstitutional because it violates their rights under the First Amendment and Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Animal Friendly Legislators in the November 2010 Elections
Who are the most animal-friendly members of Congress up for re-election in November of 2010 in the mid-term elections?

What to Do About a Dog in a Hot Car
What should I do if I find a dog in a hot car? What are the possible legal consequences of breaking a car window to rescue a dog in a hot car?

Least Animal-Friendly Legislators in the November 2010 Elections
A list of the least animal-friendly members of Congress in the November 2010 elections, including an explanation of how they were chosen.

Animal Law 2008-2014
Index of blog posts about animal law from 2008-2014, including ag-gag laws, the Animal Welfare Act, and Endangered Species Act.

The Truth About Mandatory Spay Neuter Laws
Some people believe that mandatory spay/neuter laws mean that breeders will be outlawed, and no one will have pets any more. That is absolutely not the case.

Is it Illegal to Kill a Praying Mantis? Are they Endangered? Protected?
Killing a praying mantis may be illegal depending on which state you are in, but even if it is legal in your state, there are other reasons not to kill a praying mantis.

Why shouldn’t animals be considered “property” under the law?
Most Americans consider their companion animals to be part of the family, so changing the property status of animals will update the law to reflect societal values.

What does an animal rights attorney do?
There is no one area of law in which all animal rights attorneys practice, because animal issues span many areas of law.

Why is the term “guardian” preferable to “owner”?
The state of Rhode Island and several towns across the U.S. have changed the word “owner” to “guardian” in their laws relating to companion animals.

Free Trade and Animals
Free trade agreements are supposed to benefit the signatory countries economically, but how do they affect non-human animals?

How the Government Shutdown Impacts Animals

WTO Upholds EU Ban on Seal Products
The WTO decision upholding the EU ban on seal products is a landmark case, because it is the first time that animal welfare has been recognized as a legitimate public moral concern in international trade agreements.

Mitt Romney's VP Pick, Paul Ryan is an Avid Bowhunter
Mitt Romney's running mate in the 2012 presidential election is Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, an avid bowhunter.

Horn Honking, Free Speech, and the First Amendment
Is horn honking considered protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Do free speech rights include horn honking?

What are Ag-Gag Laws and Why Are They Dangerous?
Several state legislatures have considered "ag-gag" laws that would protect animal abusers and punish whistleblowers. What are "Ag-Gag" laws, and why are they dangerous?

What is Poaching?
Whether an activity constitutes "poaching" will vary in different jurisdictions.

Japanese Whaling Declared Illegal
Court finds Japanese whaling violates international whaling ban; doesn't fit science exception. Japan must cease whaling in Southern Ocean Sanctuary.

Sportsmen's Heritage Bills Threaten Animals and Environment

Why the 2005 NJ Black Bear Hunt was Illegal
In 2007, a unanimous decision from the NJ Appellate Division declared that New Jersey's 2005 black bear hunt and 2005 black bear management policy were illegal. Here's why.

The Obama Administration's Animal Protection Record
Where does President Barack Obama stand on animal rights issues, and what is his administration's animal rights record? This article will be updated continuously throughout Obama's administration.

TX Court: Pets Have a Special Value
A Texas Court has held that pets have a "special value" above and beyond market value, but still considers pets to be property.

Arguments For and Against Horse Slaughter
While animal advocates argue against horse slaughter, some horse breeders and owners say that horse slaughter is a necessary evil.

West Hollywood Passes Fur Ban
West Hollywood, CA is poised to become the first city in the world to ban the sale of fur.

Federal Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
On March 12, 2013, the U.S. District Court in the District of Massachusetts dismissed a lawsuit by five animal activists, which challenges the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.

Understanding the Court's Opinion in the Ringling Bros. Lawsuit
A plain English explanation of the court's 2009 and 2012 opinions in the Ringling Bros. elephant abuse lawsuit, and why the animal protection groups paid Ringling Bros $15.75 million.

Are Animal Fostering and Rescue Expenses Tax-Deductible?
Are animal fostering and rescue expenses tax-deductible? After a June, 2011 U.S. Tax Court decision, it depends on several factors.

Lawsuit Filed to Overturn Idaho Ag-Gag Law
A coalition of animal, food safety, civil liberty and environmental groups as well as individual journalists has filed a lawsuit to try to overturn Idaho's new ag-gag law.

NY State Senator Tony Avella Public Forum on Animal Issues
On January 17, 2014, NY State Senator Tony Avella of the state's 11th district hosted a public forum on animal protection issues that was a who's who of the animal protection movement in New York.

Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) Profile
Profile, history and background on Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)

Interview with NY State Senator Tony Avella
NY State Senator Tony Avella at his public forum on animal protection issues, January 17, 2014.

National Center for Animal Law
The National Center for Animal Law is part of Lewis & Clark Law School.

Great Ape Standing and Personhood
GRASP seeks legal personhood status for great apes as a step towards legal personhood for other animals.

Overview of State Anti-Cruelty Statutes
An overview of state animal cruelty statutes, from the Animal Legal & Historical Center of the Michigan State University College of Law.

Overview of Pet Trusts
An overview of pet trusts, or how to provide for your companion animals in your will. See if your state has adopted legislation to allow pet trusts.

Animal Law Bibliography
Compilation of new and notable legal resources on animal rights and welfare.

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