Animal Law Legal Center home page

February 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.

By Just chaos [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons Ontario, Canada government issues enhanced standards of care for marine mammals that effectively bans the keeping of killer whales in captivity. Dr. David Rosen, a well-respected Vancouver-based marine biologist led a team of scientists to issue The University of British Columbia Report on Standards of Care for Marine Mammals in Captivity. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services states that the new standards "are to be among the highest in the world" and provide for an inventory of current marine mammals in the province as well as minimum space requirements. To read the standards, see For more on killer whales/orcas in captivity, check out the Topical Introduction.

By Just chaos [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons Maine State Representative will sponsor bill to ban sale of cats and dogs at pet stores. The legislation (which does not appear issued yet on Rep. Kimberly Monaghan, D-Cape Elizabeth's webpage) is said to be entitled, "“An Act To Prohibit the Sale of Dogs and Cats in Pet Stores" according to the Portland Press Herald. If the measure is proposed and passed, it would be the first state law of its kind in the U.S. (several municipal ordinances include such restrictions). The aim is to prevent the sale of dogs and cats bred in "puppy mills" - large-scale breeding operations that disregard animal welfare concerns - to the four pet stores in Maine engaged in selling pets. Critics of the proposed legislation cite concerns about the impact on in-house hobby breeders as well as issues of limiting individual freedom. For more, read the Press Herald article. Want to know more about state laws regulating large-scale breeders? See our Table of Laws.

UPDATE: NIH defends experiments on baby monkeys, saying investigations and protocols "are sufficient in addressing the concerns raised." Last December, Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-CA, Dina Titus, D-NV, Sam Farr, D-CA and Eliot Engel, D-NY wrote a letter to NIH Director Francis Collins requesting a Bioethics Consultation for the experiments. Since 1983, these maternal deprivation experiments, where half of the experimental population of baby monkeys are reportedly subjected to fear, stress, and pain-inducing tests while separated from their mothers, have been conducted with funding approved through 2017. The congressional representatives question the "ethical and scientific justification" for the experiments in addition to the expenditure of taxpayer dollars. Last week, three scientists, a congresswoman, and an activist spoke on Capitol Hill about the plight of these monkeys, as described in this NPR blog by one of the scientists. To read the latest NIH response as well as the original letters from the congressional representatives, see

Ohio passes law to include pets in domestic violence protection orders. In late December, Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 177, allowing courts to include companion animals (cats and dogs) in orders of protection. The court may include within a protection order "a term requiring that the respondent not remove, damage, hide, harm, or dispose of any companion animal owned or possessed by the person to be protected by the order . . ." Ohio now joins 27 other states, as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico, that have such laws. Want to see a list of all the states?


New archives


Brown v. State,  --- So.3d ----, 2015 WL 72231 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2015). Defendant was found guilty of felony cruelty to animals after a Chow mix was found near defendant's mobile home emaciated and suffering from several long-term conditions that had gone untreated. The District Court of Florida affirmed the trial court’s decision, writing only to address her claim that the trial court erred in denying her motion for judgment of acquittal because a felony conviction could not be based on an omission or failure to act. The court noted that a defendant could be properly charged with felony animal cruelty under this version of the Florida statute for intentionally committing an act that resulted in excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal by failing to provide adequate food, water, or medical treatment. The court then held that sufficient evidence existed showing that defendant owned a dog and failed, over a period of more than one year, to provide adequate food, water and needed medical care.

Kohl v. New Sewickley Tp. Zoning Hearing Bd., --- A.3d ----, 2015 WL 249186 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2015). Applicants sought a zoning variance to operate a nonprofit dog-rescue shelter. The zoning board denied the application, concluding that the dog-rescue operation run by applicants was a non-permissible “kennel” under the ordinance. Upon reviewing the trial court's reversal of the board's decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania concluded that the term “kennel,” as used in the zoning ordinance, was ambiguous, and had to be construed in favor of applicants to find that applicants' operation of a large dog rescue facility did not constitute the operation of a kennel. The court affirmed the trial court's decision.

State v. Gerberding, --- S.E.2d ----, 2014 WL 6907352 (N.C. Ct. App. 2014). After stabbing and slicing a dog to death, defendant was indicted for felonious cruelty to animals and conspiracy to commit felonious cruelty to animals. Defendant appealed on the basis that the trial court erred by incorrectly defining the term “without justification or excuse” to the jury. The facts indicated that defendant pinned down the dog and killed it after it bit her when she reached into its mouth to retrieve food. After careful consideration, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that the trial court properly instructed the jury according to the North Carolina pattern jury instructions.

Van Kleek v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, 857 N.W.2d 297 (Neb., 2014). Plaintiff agreed to watch a couple’s dog while they were out of town. While plaintiff was caring for the dog, the animal bit her on her lower lip. Plaintiff's claim was rejected by the insurance company because the “insured” was defined to include “any person ... legally responsible” for covered animals. The Supreme Court of Nebraska affirmed the insurance company's motion for summary judgment, reasoning that plaintiff was “legally responsible” for the dog because she fed and watered the animal and let it out of the house while the couple was away.

Case Archives


Thomas G. Kelch, Cultural Solipsism, Cultural Lenses, Universal Principles, and Animal Advocacy, 31 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 403 (2014).

Katherine R. Powers, Dogs in Dorms: How the United States v. University of Nebraska at Kearney Illustrates A Coverage Gap Created by the Intersection of Fair Housing and Disability Law, 47 Creighton L. Rev. 363 (2014).

Alana Preston, Eco-Terrorism in the Southern Ocean: A Dangerous Byproduct of the Tangled Web of International Whaling Conventions and Treaties, 34 Whittier L. Rev. 117 (2012).

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

Michael T. Olexa, Katherine Smallwooda, and Joshua A. Cossey, 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, 16 Drake J. Agric. L. 69 (2011).