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January - February News

  Tacoma, WA becomes first city in Washington to ban cat declawing; Pennsylvania lawmaker proposes anti-declaw bill. In early December, the Tacoma City Council voted to ban non-therapeutic onychectomy, otherwise known as cat declawing through new Section 17.02.155. An onychectomy, or cat declawing, amputates the last bone in each toe of a cat, often causing a lifetime of pain and behavioral issues. Tacoma's ordinance goes into effect on March 1, 2024, and violation results in a civil infraction with a penalty of up to $250. In 2019, New York became the first state to ban declawing with Maryland following in 2022. In 2023, Washington, D.C. banned the practice (§ 22–1012.03). The City of West Hollywood, CA was the first city in the United States to ban cat declawing in 2003 and several cities have enacted similar bans since then. Curious to learn more about non-therapeutic procedures for companion animals? Check out our Topic Intro.

   New Hampshire considers ban on for-profit breeding of brachycephalic dogs. Brachycephalic dogs fall under some 24 registered breeds that have flat faces, wide skulls, and disproportionately longer lower jaws. These include two of the most popularly bred dogs, the Bulldog and French Bulldog, but also Affenpinscher, Brussels Griffon, Dogue de Bordeaux, Japanese Chin, Lhasa Apso, Brasileiro, and Pekingese. Brachycephalic breeds are at increased risk for numerous morbidities due to their inability to breathe normally. These dogs may develop brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) because of their shortened noses and skulls. New Hampshire HB 1102 adds a new section to RSA 644:8, the state’s primary anti-cruelty law, making it a crime for anyone who “[s]ells an animal that has a birth deformity that causes suffering, such as brachycephaly, or the intentional breeding with the intent to sell, 2 individual animals with the same birth deformity that causes suffering, such as brachycephaly.” The bill will be introduced January 3, 2024, and referred to the Environment and Agriculture committee.

   New Jersey enacts law to end cruel confinement of veal calves and pregnant pigs. On July 26th, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed A1970/S1298 into law. The bill prohibits the confinement of breeding pigs and calves raised for veal in a manner that unduly restricts movement or provides inadequate space. Violation of the bill’s prohibitions constitutes a disorderly persons offense and would also be a civil violation of the animal cruelty laws subject to a civil penalty of not less than $250 or more than $1,000. A gestation crate is a metal cage so small that a mother pig is unable to turn around or move freely for virtually her entire life. Veal crates are small, individual cages used to confine newborn calves prior to slaughter preventing almost any natural behavior and social interaction. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the bill's enactment reflects a 13-year campaign to lessen animal suffering and protect consumers from zoonotic disease potential linked to extreme confinement of farm animals.

News archives


Court finds that delegation of swine "sorting process" to slaughterhouse employees did not violate Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA). Farm Sanctuary v. United States Dep't of Agric., --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2023 WL 8602134 (W.D.N.Y. Dec. 12, 2023). This case was brought by plaintiffs, several nonprofit animal rights organizations, to challenge a Final Rule implementing a new swine inspection system at pig farms and slaughterhouses across the United States against defendants, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food Safety Inspection Service. The new system requires that employees of the slaughterhouses perform ante-mortem and post-mortem sorting activities before the federal inspection is to take place, which plaintiffs challenge under the argument that this shifting of the sorting activities to slaughterhouse employees is in violation of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA). Plaintiffs argue that this delegation is improper, would negatively impact the safety of pork being produced by slaughterhouses, and would lead to inhumane slaughter of pigs. Plaintiffs and defendants filed motions for summary judgment. The court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment, finding that plaintiffs failed to meet the burden of proof to show that the delegation of the sorting process was improper.

Euthanasia of dog by wife without husband's authorization did not violate automatic Family Court order because the animal was not a financial asset for purposes of the order. C.M. v. E.M., --- N.Y.S.3d ----, 2023 WL 8360025 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Nov. 28, 2023). This is a family law case concerning, among other issues, the euthanasia of a family companion animal. Defendant argues that Plaintiff violated an order in place by putting the family dog down without reason, necessity, and justification, and that the dog was an emotional support animal whose custody had not been determined. Defendant also argues that plaintiff did not allow defendant the opportunity to spend time with the dog before it was put down, and that he suffered emotional distress due to the dog's death. The court found that the euthanasia of the family dog did not violate the order in place, because the companion animal was not classified as "property" or an "asset" under the order in place, and that animals are afforded additional protection under the Family Court Act. Whether the animal was put down unnecessarily could be considered animal cruelty, but that inquiry would need to be determined in a criminal proceeding, and criminal charges were not filed. Accordingly, the court held that plaintiff did not violate the order by euthanizing the family dog.

Court denied zoo's motion for preliminary injunction after seizure of 95 sick animals because zoo could not prove irreparable harm from seizure. Mogensen v. Welch, --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2023 WL 8756708 (W.D. Va. Dec. 19, 2023). Plaintiffs owned and operated a zoo containing about 95 animals. Following complaints about suspected abuse and neglect of these animals, defendant executed a search warrant of the zoo. The search led to the seizure of many of these animals, including a tiger in such poor health that it needed to be euthanized. Following the seizure of these animals, plaintiffs filed a motion to argue that their due process rights were violated because a civil forfeiture hearing must be held no more than ten business days after the state seized the animals, and plaintiffs argue that ten days is too little time to prepare for the hearing. To succeed on the claim, plaintiffs must show that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, which they were unable to do because plaintiffs still have the right to appeal if the hearing does not go in their favor. Therefore, the court denied plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction.

Case Archives


Examining the Veterinary Client-Patient Relationship in the United States: Why the Abolition of the In-Person Examination Requirement is Warranted, Jeffrey P. Feldmann, 56 Suffolk U. L. Rev. 91 (2023).

Derechos de los animales en Colombia: una lectura crítica en perspectiva ambiental, Carlos Lozano, State Law Magazine, 54 (Nov. 2022), 345–380.

Forgotten Victims of War: Animals and the International Law of Armed Conflict, Saba Pipia, 28 Animal L. 175 (2022).

From Factory Farming to A Sustainable Food System: A Legislative Approach, Michelle Johnson-Weider, 32 Geo. Envtl. L. Rev. 685 (2020).

When Fido is Family: How Landlord-Imposed Pet Bans Restrict Access to Housing, Kate O'Reilly-Jones, 52 Colum. J.L. & Soc. Probs. 427 (Spring, 2019).