Animal Law Legal Center home page

February News


  South Carolina legislators introduce bill requiring owners of unaltered pit bulls to register and microchip their dogs. H.3709 proposes new Article 17 on "Pit Bull Dogs" under Title 47. Under the bill, a "pit bull" is defined as "a dog that is an American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, a dog displaying the physical traits of one or more of the above breeds, or a dog exhibiting the distinguishing characteristics that conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club for any of the above breeds." A person is not allowed to keep a "fertile pit bull dog" without first registering the dog with local animal control and paying a fee of $500 (absent certain listed exceptions). Registration is not required for an altered pit bull (defined as a dog that has been sterilized and microchipped). Violation of the registration law is a misdemeanor with a possible fine up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year, or both. According to the preamble of the bill, the legislation is needed because "the pit bull dog is the most desired breed for dogfighting and is dying at a higher rate in local animal shelters than any other breed of dog in South Carolina," and "[m]ost dog bite fatalities are committed by dogs that were not altered." The bill was referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs in late January.

   Two more states aim to protect pets in "hot" cars. Georgia Senate Bill 32 was introduced in January and would provide civil damage immunity for any person who, in good faith, rescues or attempts to rescue an incapacitated or endangered animal from a locked motor vehicle. Similarly, Idaho, another state without a "hot car" law has one legislator again pushing the "Dog and Cat Rescue Act," which failed in 2018 (2018 Senate Bill 1244-aa). Currently, 30 states have some sort of law on pets in locked cars. But, in much of the country right now, people may be asking, what about pets in cold cars? Ten states actually mention both extreme hot or extreme cold in their laws, while other states say conditions that endanger an animal or present "imminent danger." Either way, it's clear that the laws protect animals under both conditions even though these laws are typically known as "hot car" laws. See our Map of Laws for more.

  Hawaii's new service dog fraud law effective January 1, 2019. Hawaii's law makes it unlawful to misrepresent a pet as a service animal with a potential fine of not less than $100 and not more than $250 for the first violation, and not less than $500 for a second violation and each violation thereafter. According to KITV and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, state Senator Russell Ruderman of Puna analogizes it to a "littering law" because it is unclear how and when enforcement may occur. In recent years, many other states have enacted such laws. To date, almost half of all states have adopted these service dog fraud laws. To see these states, visit our updated Map of Laws.


News archives


Agreement to transfer gorilla from The Gorilla Foundation to Cincinnati Zoo upheld despite concerns for gorilla's health. ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF CINCINNATI, Plaintiff, v. THE GORILLA FOUNDATION, et al., Defendants, Slip Copy, 2019 WL 414971 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 1, 2019). The Plaintiff, Zoological Society of Cincinnati, entered into an agreement with The Gorilla Foundation (TGF) for the purpose of transferring a gorilla, Ndume, to TGF in the hopes that the gorilla would mate with a gorilla already living at TGF. The gorilla was transferred, but the mating never happened. In 2015 the Zoo and TGF entered into a new agreement that stated if KoKo, the gorilla Ndume was supposed to mate with, predeceased him, Ndume would be transferred to an AZA accredited institution. TGF failed to make arrangements to transfer the gorilla after Koko died. The Zoo brought this action to enforce the agreement and for summary judgment. The Court ultimately granted the Zoo’s motion for summary judgment and held that the Ndume was to be transferred back to the zoo. 

Failure of USDA to promulgate bird-specific regulations not arbitrary and capricious because not required by AWA. Am. Anti-Vivisection Soc'y v. United States Dept. of Agric., --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2018 WL 6448635 (D.D.C. Dec. 10, 2018). The American Anti-Vivisection Society and the Avian Welfare Coalition sued the Department of Agriculture and its Secretary alleging that the Department's failure to promulgate bird-specific regulations is unreasonable, unlawful, and arbitrary and capricious in violation of the APA. The Department moved to dismiss the Plaintiff's claims arguing that the Plaintiffs lack standing to sue, that it is not required by law to promulgate regulations for birds, and that it has not taken a final action reviewable by the court. The District Court ultimately held that, although the Plaintiffs have standing to sue, their claims fail. The Department is not required by the Animal Welfare Act to issue avian-specific standards; rather, it must to issue welfare standards that are generally applicable to animals. Secondly, although the Department has not taken any action to develop avian-specific standards, that does not mean that will not do so in the future. The District Court granted the department's motion to dismiss.

State has legitimate interest in banning bestiality, regardless that adults engaged in activity were consenting. Warren v. Commonwealth, 822 S.E.2d 395 (Va. Ct. App., 2019). Defendant Warren videotaped on his cell phone sexual encounters he had with K.H. and her dog. In March of 2017, a deputy spoke to Warren about an unrelated matter, and then Warren asked the deputy if "bestiality type stuff" was "legal or illegal," described the cellphone videos, and offered to show them to Reynolds. Subsequently, law enforcement obtained a search warrant and removed the videos from Warren's cellphone. Warren was indicted and moved to dismiss the indictment arguing that Code § 18.2-361(A) is facially unconstitutional and unconstitutional as applied to him. He further argued that the conduct depicted in the videos could not be subject to criminal sanction because it amounted to nothing more than consensual conduct involving adults. The trial court denied Warren's motion to dismiss. On appeal, this court reasoned that although § 18.2-361(A) cannot criminalize sodomy between consenting adults, it can continue to regulate other forms of sodomy, like bestiality. The only right the statute could possibly infringe on would be the right to engage in bestiality. The Commonwealth has a legitimate interest in banning sex with animals. The Court rejected Warren's challenge to the constitutionality of the statute and affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

Case Archives


Never Enough: Animal Hoarding Law, Courtney G. Lee, 47 U. Balt. L. Rev. 23 (2017).

Animal Consortium,  David S. Favre and Thomas Dickinson, 84 Tenn. L. Rev. 893 (2017).

The Animal Welfare Act at Fifty: Problems and Possibilities in Animal Testing Regulation, Courtney G. Lee, 95 Neb. L. Rev. 194-247 (2016).

From Inside the Cage to Outside the Box: Natural Resources as a Platform for Nonhuman Animal Personhood in the U.S. and Australia, Randall S. Abate & Jonathan Crowe, 5 Global J. Animal L. 54 (2017).

Zuchtvieh-Export Gmbh v. Stadt Kempten: The Tension Between Uniform, Cross-Border Regulation and Territorial Sovereignty, David Mahoney, 40 B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 363 (2017).