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June News


  Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf signs "Libre's Law" with tougher penalties for animal cruelty. The law (HB 1238), named for a dog rescued last year after severe neglect, now allows first-time offenders to be charged with felonies. Previously, the state only allowed felony charges in first-offense cases where the crime involved dogfighting or killing an endangered species; cruel treatment and neglect were designated as a "summary offense" regardless of circumstances. Humane officers and veterinarians who report suspected cruelty are given civil immunity for reporting it. Conviction for both misdemeanor and felony cruelty can now result in forfeiture of the animal involved (it is mandatory for felony convictions). The law also amends the dog tethering law by limiting the amount of time a dog may be tethered outside. When the outside temperature is above 90 degrees or below 32, owners can only tie-out dogs for a maximum of 30 minutes under the changes. News sources indicate that Libre was present for the signing and gave a paw print signature on the new law. 

  Question of the month: is it illegal for dogs to ride in the back of pickup trucks? As part of our web library, we offer a number of questions-and-answers on a variety of subjects. A new question we researched involves letting a dog ride unrestrained in the back of a pickup truck. Only five states address this issue directly in their laws: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. While the language of the laws vary, all prohibit a dog (or any animal in the case of MA and RI) from being unstrained/loose in the back. Most require some sort of secured cage or tether, with truck sides tall enough to prevent the animal from falling or jumping out. While Hawaii does not have a pickup truck law, it does have a law that makes it illegal to hold an animal in a person’s lap that “interferes with the driver's control over the driving mechanism of the vehicle.” Check out this new FAQ

  Indiana enacts law giving partial immunity to rescuers of pets from hot cars. The new law was does not criminalize the act of leaving a dog unattended in a motor vehicle under dangerous conditions. Instead, it makes a person liable for only one-half of the property damage done to a motor vehicle after forcible entry to remove an animal in distress. "Animal" under the law only means dogs, cats, or other vertebrates intended as household pets and does not include livestock. Several conditions must be met under the law, such as assuring the vehicle is locked, seeing that the animal appears to be in danger, calling 911 before entering the vehicle, and staying until first responders arrive. The new law does provide complete immunity to several categories of persons who forcibly enter a motor vehicle to rescue a distressed animal, such as law enforcement, firefighters, first responders, animal control, veterinarians, and veterinary assistants. For a table of all the states with laws relating to pets in hot cars, see our Table of Laws.

New archives



Plaintiffs seek end to Kaporos in NYC - Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos v. New York City Police Dept., --- N.Y.S.3d ----, 2017 WL 2429221 (N.Y. App. Div. June 6, 2017). Kaporos is a customary Jewish ritual which entails grasping a live chicken and swinging the bird three times overhead while saying a prayer. Upon completion of the prayer, the chicken's throat is slit and its meat is donated.  The practice takes place outdoors, on public streets in Brooklyn. The Plaintiffs alleged that Kaporos is a health hazard and cruel to animals. The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York affirmed the Supreme Court's dismissal of the proceedings against the City defendants. The Court reasoned that none of the laws or regulations that the Plaintiffs relied on precluded the City Defendants from deciding whether or not to engage in Kaporos. Also, the Plaintiffs did not have a “clear legal right” to dictate which laws are enforced, how, or against whom. The Court stated that determining which laws and regulations might be properly enforced against the non-City defendants without infringing upon their free exercise of religion could not be dictated by the court through mandamus.

NY court denies habeas relief to plaintiff chimpanzees - Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. ex rel. Tommy v. Lavery, --- N.Y.S.3d ----, 2017 WL 2471600 (N.Y. App. Div. June 8, 2017). Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. ex rel. filed two petitions for habeas corpus relief on behalf of Tommy and Kiko, two adult male chimpanzees. The petitions stated that chimpanzees are intelligent, have the ability to be trained by humans to be obedient to rules, and to fulfill certain duties and responsibilities. Therefore, chimpanzees should be afforded some of the same fundamental rights as humans which include entitlement to habeas relief. The Supreme Court, New York County, declined to extend habeas corpus relief to the chimpanzees. The Petitioners appealed. The Supreme Court, Appellate Division affirmed and held that: (1) the petitions were successive habeas proceedings which were not warranted or supported by any changed circumstances; (2) human-like characteristics of chimpanzees did not render them “persons” for purposes of habeas corpus relief; and (3) even if habeas relief was potentially available to chimpanzees, writ of habeas corpus did not lie on behalf of two chimpanzees at issue.

Breaking up dogfight was "well-intentioned" provocation that defeats dangerous dog determination - Pflaum v. Summit Cty. Animal Control, --- N.E.3d ---- 2017 WL 2467132 (OhioApp.2017). Defendant appealed a trial court determination that his dog was dangerous under Ohio law. The designation stemmed from an incident in 2015, where defendant's dog and another dog began to fight. A neighbor attempted to break up the fight and was subsequently bitten on the hand. The magistrate found the dog did not meet the statutory definition of a dangerous dog. Animal control then appealed the magistrate's decision and the trial court agreed, finding that animal control demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that the dog was dangerous. At the Court of Appeals, the court observed that the neighbor's striking of the Pflaum's dog during the fight fell within the concept of "torment" for purposes of determining provocation. While the neighbor's action were "well-intentioned," the issue of whether a person "tormented" a dog does not depend on whether there was a malicious intent. Thus, there was not clear and convincing evidence that the dog acted without provocation when it caused injury to a person.

Case Archives


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

Animal Rights Law Reporter, published by the Society for Animal Rights, Inc., edited by Professor Henry Mark Holzer, available issues from 1980 - 1983.

Trophy Hunting Contracts: Unenforceable for Reasons of Public Policy, Myanna Dellinger, 41 Colum. J. Envtl. L. 395 (2016).

Stevens, R.A.V., and Animal Cruelty Speech: Why Congress's New Statute Remains Constitutionally Problematic, J. Alexandra Bruce, 51 Gonz. L. Rev. 481 (2015-2016).

Animals as More Than 'Mere Things,' but Still Property: A Call for Continuing Evolution of the Animal Welfare Paradigm, Richard L. Cupp, Jr., University of Cincinnati Law Review, Forthcoming; Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 19 (available at SSRN:

Designing a Model Dog Park Law,  John J. Ensminger and Frances Breitkopf, Animal Legal & Historical Center (2016).

Take it to the Limit: The Illegal Regulation Prohibiting the Take of Any Threatened Species Under the Endangered Species Act, Jonathan Wood, 33 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 23 (2015).