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In August 2012, the Animal Legal & Historical Center celebrated its 10th anniversary. Over the years, with the help of many individuals, we've added thousands of files that are accessed across the globe. We believe this site is the largest legal website devoted to animal issues in the world. Unsurprisingly, the website's most sought after materials relate to the many issues that dogs provide our society.

Our peak usage day (Monday) has well over 6,000 unique visitors. Yet unlike a physical library, we are unable to have casual conversations with our users. So to gain feedback, please share your comments at Tell us about your use of the site. What could we add to the site? How could the site be easier to use? Any and all thoughts and comments are welcome. Since Michigan State University College of Law is very generous with its financial support of this site, your feedback helps ensure this site's growth and presence for the next ten years. Thank you!

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New for January 2014



Because the database software which hosts all our materials is no longer going to be supported by its owner, we will not be able to add new materials to this site while we transition to a new system. The existing site will remain available on the web as usual. This may take a few months as we reorganize. Thank you for your patience.

Endangered Species Act (ESA) turned 40 in December 2013. On December 28th, this landmark piece of legislation turned 40 years old. The act is credited with recovering several species from the brink of extinction including the bald eagle, Stellar sea lion, and American alligator. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration created a 40th anniversary webpage that highlights the history of the act through the decades as well as species affected by the act in all 50 states. View this interactive resource at

USDA-APHIS announces an on-line complaint form for Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations. The AWA is a federal is a federal law that covers animals used in research, exhibition, transportation, and animals sold by dealers. The act establishes minimum standards of care for animals covered under the act. It also requires these animal dealers or exhibitors to be licensed and submit to periodic inspections by the USDA's Animal Plant and Health Inspection Services (APHIS). Some examples of animal owners that would fall under the AWA include large scale commercial dog breeders that sell to pet stores or other dog brokers, owners of traveling exotic animal exhibitions, and university animal research facilities. To view the on-line form, see See our AWA Topic Area to learn more about the Act.

Ohio's Dangerous Animal Wild Animals Law goes into effect January 1, 2014. Ohio's comprehensive law aimed at restricting ownership of dangerous wild animals such as big cats, wolves, alligators, nonhuman primates, and certain snakes became effective this month. No person may possess listed species after January 1, 2014. Additionally, the act prohibits the purchase, transfer, or ownership of such species unless authorization or a rescue facility permit was obtained prior to January 1st. Current owners of dangerous wild animals were required to obtain registration permits back in 2012 to become grandfathered into the new law. The law was enacted in the wake of tragedy in Zanesville, Ohio in 2011 after an owner of more than 50 exotic big cats released them before taking his own life. Officers had to kill nearly all the animals to prevent harm to the community.

Biomedical research labs receive large fines for continued animal welfare violations. The Harvard Medical School lab was fined in December over $24,000 for repeated Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations from February 2011 to July 2012. The incidents included the death of two primates from dehydration and the death of one monkey from becoming entangled in a chain while playing. To read the report of the violations, see Similarly, TRS Labs, Inc. of Athens, Georgia was fined over $26,000 for violations from 2012 to 2013 for inadequate veterinary care for lab animals and substandard housing enclosures for dogs at the facility. To read the report, see


Lower courts refuse writs of habeas corpus for captive chimpanzees in NY, finding that they are not "legal persons;" cases now move to appellate level. The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, demanding that a chimp named "Tommy" be released from private captivity to a sanctuary that is part of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA). Tommy is said to be held captive in a cage located in a shed that stands on a used trailer lot. More suits on behalf of other captive chimps in the state are said to follow. The supporting affidavits offer support from scientists around the world that chimpanzees are self-aware and autonomous and should therefore be recognized as legal "persons." Read the filings in this court case. To find out more about the NhRP, see

New in 2013! Want to know what laws were amended or added in 2012? Check out our new Table of 2012-2013 State Amendments. Looking for cases from last year? You can always find recent court cases by viewing our Archives page.

Check out the new searchable Bills/Legislation. Search for pending bills by State or by Topic in the left navigation.

Also check out the searchable Local Ordinances. Search for local codes by State or by Topic in the left navigation. Many codes are available under "Breed Specific Legislation." 

New Article! An International Treaty for Animal Welfare, by Professor David Favre, 18 Animal Law 237 (2012).

New Article! Facility Dog Accompanies Adult Witness during Testimony, John Ensminger, Animal Legal & Historical Center (2012).

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. United States Department of Agriculture, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2013 WL 6571845 (D.D.C. 2013). PETA brought a suit against the USDA for failing to enforce the AWA against bird abusers and for not promulgating regulations specific to the mistreatment of avians. In a motion to dismiss, the USDA argued (1) that PETA lacked standing and (2), even if PETA had standing, the organization had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. While the district court found PETA had standing, it granted the USDA’s motion to dismiss because the AWA's enforcement provision strongly suggested that its implementation was committed to agency discretion by law and because section 2143 of the AWA did not require the USDA to issue avian-specific animal-welfare standards.
People v. Lohnes, --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2013 WL 6670466 (N.Y. App. Div., 2013). After breaking into a barn and stabbing a horse to death, the defendant plead guilty to charges of aggravated cruelty to animals; burglary in the third degree; criminal mischief in the second degree; and overdriving, torturing and injuring animals. On appeal, the court found a horse could be considered a companion animal within New York's aggravated cruelty statute if the horse was not a farm animal raised for commercial or subsistence purposes and the horse was normally maintained in or near the household of the owner or the person who cared for it. The appeals court also vacated and remitted the sentence imposed on the aggravated cruelty charge because the defendant was entitled to know that the prison term was not the only consequence of entering a plea.

Travis v. Murray, --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2013 WL 6246374 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2013). A short, childless marriage ended in a custody battle over a dachshund after one spouse allegedly took the dog while the other spouse was away on a business trip. After reviewing the progression of the law in New York and in other states, the court decided to apply a “best for all concerned” standard and to give the parties a full, one-day hearing. The plaintiff’s motion to order the defendant to return the couple's dog and to be awarded “sole residential custody” of the dog was therefore granted.

Dog Case of the Month

Dog attacking and killing cat while held on leash not "objectively likely" result to sustain Florida felony animal cruelty conviction. Hamilton v. State, --- So.3d ----, 2013 WL 6670841 (Fla.App. 4 Dist.). An 82-year-old defendant was convicted of a third-degree felony animal cruelty violation and sentenced to three years' imprisonment. Defendant had his dog on leash and approached too close to a cat, whereupon the leashed dog began to attack the cat. The appellate court found that defendant's conduct did not rise to a criminal level, as it was "objectively unlikely" that a leashed dog walking with his owner would inflict such damage. The harm was not "obviously reasonably related" to defendant's act when construed under the view of lenity and section 828.12. Further, while the issue of sentencing was rendered moot by the reversal, the court found the consideration of a petition with approximately 3,000 signatures demanding the maximum sentence, "an affront to the very notion of due process of law . . ."

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The welfare of greyhounds in Australian racing: has the industry run its course? Alexandra McEwan and Krishna Skandakumar, Australian Animal Protection Law Journal, Dec. 2011 (15 July 2013 version).

Policies to Promote Socialization and Welfare in Dog Breeding, Amy Morris, Project Submitted In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Public Policy in the School of Public Policy, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (2013) [reprinted with permission].

"No Animals Were Harmed . . .”: Protecting Chimpanzees From Cruelty Behind The Curtain, Lorraine L. Fischer, 27 Hastings Comm. & Ent L.J. 405 (2005).

Protecting Equine Rescue From Being Put Out To Pasture: Whether Ranches Dedicated To Abused, Abandoned, And Aging Horses May Qualify For "Agricultural" Classifications Under Florida's Greenbelt Law, Michael T. Olexa, Katherine Smallwooda, and Joshua A. Cossey, 16 Drake J. Agric. L. 69 (2011).

Permitting Pluralism: The Seal Products Dispute And Why The WTO Should Accept Trade Restrictions Justified By Nonintsrumental Moral Values, Robert Howse and Joanna Langille, 37 Yale J. Int'l L. 367 (2012).

The Paradox of Animal Hoarding and The Limits of Canadian Criminal Law, Kathryn M. Campbell, Animal Legal & Historical Center (2012).

Hear Me Roar: Should Universities Use Live Animals As Mascots? Jessica Baranko, 21 Marq. Sports L. Rev. 599 (2011).


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Frequently Asked Questions

Look here for Emotional Support Animals and other common dog/animal law questions.


Maps and Comparative Tables of Laws

You can find collections of state laws by topic through maps or comparative tables of laws. The maps link to the text of the laws, while the tables present the information in organized columns. See the Map Page for available maps of state laws or select a topic below:

 See the Comparative Tables Page for comparative tables of state laws or select a topic below:


Topic Areas (2012 - 2013)

These topics were added in 2012 - 2013. To select from over 60 animal law topics, see the "Select by Topic" in the left navigation.


Pod cast of common issues

Amazing but True Animal Laws

While animal cruelty is never a laughing matter, it is interesting to learn of certain activities that must be included under state anti-cruelty provisions rather than outlawed by common sense. In Missouri, bear wrestling is defined as "a contest of fighting or physical altercation between one or more persons and a bear for the purpose of amusement, entertainment, wagering or gain." Bear wrestling is also unlawful in Oklahoma, punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not more than $2,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Finally, Arkansas refers to such acts as "unlawful bear exploitation," which is a Class D felony.

For more information on these interesting laws, be sure to check back monthly.