Animal Law Legal Center home page

May News

Welcome to the new and improved Animal Legal & Historical Center website! Over the past few months, we have moved our entire website to a new platform with enhanced features. We hope this helps our readers find materials more efficiently through our new navigation in the purple bar at the top. With this, you can narrow your results by both state and topic or even by species. Feel free to take a tour of our new site and let us know if you encounter any difficulties at To learn more about navigating the site, see the First Time User or Researcher buttons to the right.

More state propose animal abuser registries. Proponents argue that animal abuser registries provide a resource for animal shelters and law enforcement to identify past abusers who are trying to adopt new animals. Similar to sex offender registries, animal abuser registries would make information on past animal cruelty convictions available to law enforcement/animal control or even the general public. Some states prohibit animal ownership for a certain period of time following animal cruelty convictions (Maine and Oregon among others), but often there is no way to distribute this information to animal shelters. Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas are considering such bills (Virginia and West Virginia's bills died in committee). For more, see National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) page on animal abuse registry legislation at .

 By Just chaos [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons NOAA Fisheries seeks public comment on proposal to reclassify the humpback whale into 14 distinct population segments (DPS) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The humpback whale is currently listed as "endangered" under the ESA throughout its entire range. The species has made a population recovery over the course of 40+ years since commercial whaling ended and the whale was listed as endangered in 1970. The proposed reclassification would allow 10 of the 14 DPS to be removed from the ESA list. However, the species would still receive protection under the MMPA. Read the Press Release at the NOAA Fisheries page with information on how to submit and electronic comment on the proposed rule:

Federal lawmakers introduce the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act aimed at preventing horseslaughter. The SAFE Act (H.R. 1094) would prevent the establishment of horse slaughter facilities within the US and curtail the export of horses for slaughter in other countries. The measure was introduced by Reps. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.). According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), over 140,000 American horses were shipped and slaughtered for human consumption in other countries like Canada and Mexico last year. To learn about the legal controversy surrounding horse slaughter, see our Topical Introduction.

 Proposed Alaska bill would give companion animals special consideration in the state. HB 147 adds new language to laws concerning the care and impoundment of animals (AS § 03.55.110 - 130). In particular, the bill would require owners of animals seized for suspected cruelty or neglect pay for the cost of care. The bill also amends the domestic violence laws allowing pets to be included in domestic violence orders. Significantly, the bill amends the divorce and marriage dissolution statutes to require consideration of "the well-being of the animal" that is jointly owned. Read the bill at


New archives


Big Cats of Serenity Springs, Inc. v. Vilsack,  --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2015 WL 1432069 (D. Colo. 2015). In an amended complaint, Plaintiffs asserted four claims against Defendants relating to a May 7, 2013 United States Department of Agriculture inspection of Big Cats of Serenity Springs, Inc. The inspection was a follow-up inspection of an injured tiger cub at the facility. The claims included a Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures; a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim; and claims for declaratory judgment. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The US Magistrate Judge issued a recommendation that motions be granted in part and denied in part and that the declaratory judgment claims asserted by plaintiffs be dismissed without prejudice.

Flint v. City of Milwaukee,  2015 WL 1523891 (E.D. Wis. 2015). In 2010, police obtained a warrant to search plaintiff’s residence for endangered species. While at the plaintiff’s residence, police shot and killed two Tibetan Mastiffs. Plaintiff was arrested and detained, but the charges were later dropped. Plaintiff filed a section 1983 suit, asserting that defendants not only unlawfully searched her residence, seized and "slaughter[ed] ... her dogs," but that they also unlawfully detained her in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. After District Court denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on her unlawful detention claim, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration. District Court denied plaintiff's motion for reconsideration because she had not cited any intervening change in the law, any erroneous application of the law, or any newly discovered evidence that would compel the Court to reconsider its decision. Additionally, the District Court found the court had reviewed the unlawful detention claim using the proper legal standard.

Perfect Puppy, Inc. v. City of East Providence, --- F.Supp.3d ----,  2015 WL 1474560 (D.R.I. 2015). Due to public concern about puppy mills, City passed an ordinance banning pet stores located within its limits from selling dogs and cats unless those animals were owned by a city animal shelter or animal control agency, humane society, or non-profit rescue organization for the purpose of public adoption. Plaintiff, a pet store, raised numerous challenges to the ordinance under the Constitutions of the United States and of Rhode Island, claiming that it violated the dormant Commerce Clause, the Contract Clause, the Takings Clause, and Plaintiff's equal protection and due process rights. Plaintiff and Defendant both sought summary judgment to all challenges. The court granted Defendant's motion on all counts except related to takings because that claim was not ripe for judicial review. The court found that the ordinance met the rational basis test and served legitimate government interests.

Olier v. Bailey,  --- So.3d ----, 2015 WL 1611772 (Miss. 2015). Plaintiff was attacked and chased by a domestic goose in Defendant’s yard. Plaintiff came to visit Defendant's yard because she and Defendant both shared an enthusiasm for gardening discussed on a gardening website. Defendant had a "Beware--Attack Geese" sign and orally informed Plaintiff of the geese. As Plaintiff attempted to flee from the goose, she fell and broke her arm. Plaintiff sued Defendant under a theory of premises liability and, alternatively, under the dangerous-propensity rule. After a grant of summary judgment for defendant by the trial and circuit courts, plaintiff then filed the instant appeal. The Supreme Court of Mississippi held that, while Plaintiff cannot, as a matter of law, pursue her claim under her theory of general premises liability because she was a licensee rather than an invitee, she can proceed under the dangerous-propensity theory. The Court found an issue of fact as to whether Defendant was on notice of her geese's alleged dangerous propensity.

Case Archives


Angela J. Geiman, "It's the Right Thing to Do": Why the Animal Agriculture Industry Should Not Oppose Science-Based Regulations Protecting the Welfare Of Animals Raised for Food,  106 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 128 (2008).

Steven M. Wise,  An Argument for the Basic Legal Rights of Farmed Animals, 106 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 133 (2008).

Bernard Rollin, Animal Ethics and the Law, 106 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 143 (2008).

Kyle H. Landis-Marinello, The Environmental Effects of Cruelty to Agricultural Animals, 106 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 147 (2008).

Zygmunt J.B. Plater, Human-Centered Environmental Values Versus Nature-Centric Environmental Values: Is This the Question? 3 Mich. J. Envtl & Admin. L. 273 (2014).