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December News


   Federal District Court in Iowa grants preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of Iowa's "ag-gag" law. The United States District Court for Southern District of Iowa issued a preliminary injunction on December 2nd to prevent Iowa's ag-gag law from being enforced. The injunction came as the result of a lawsuit filed by a group of animal and food safety advocates. The lawsuit contends that such ag-gag laws threaten animal welfare and food safety by criminalizing those who gain entry to agricultural enterprises and large-scale farming operations under false pretenses. The goal of these undercover assignments is to ask as "whistleblowers" to expose food safety and animal welfare violations in the public food system. This new law is similar to a law overturned as unconstitutional in 2012. Other state ag-gag laws have also faced legal challenges in recent years. Find out more about ag-gag laws.

   How much is your dog worth? Anyone in the field of animal law will tell you one of the biggest legal obstacles is valuation of animals. To us, companion animals are priceless, but under law, they are mere property, often with little to no value. A handful of states have addressed this discrepancy by statute and an even smaller number of courts have allowed damages that recognize the difference between dogs and toasters. But how can we put a price tag on a dog's love and affection? Researchers developed an experimental survey design discussed in the Journal of Cost-Benefit Analysis that determines a dog's monetary value is about $10,000. In an article in The Conversation, the scholars note that spending on pets exceeded $70 billion last year, far exceeding what Americans spend on pizza or legal marijuana (read more at What’s the value of your dog’s life, and why it matters).

   Lights, camera, action! The Animal Legal & Historical Center would like to introduce our newest set of materials: animal law videos! Animal law can be complex because it covers so many areas of the law, from criminal law to torts to disability discrimination. By making these videos, we hope to provide another avenue for people to understand and learn about these diverse legal concepts. Check out our first two videos: State Dog Tethering Laws and Service, Assistance, and Therapy Animals.  Remember, you can always email us questions, ideas, and feedback at 


News archives


Amendments to AWA that ban cockfighting extend to Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, and do not violate Commerce or Territorial Clauses. Club Gallistico de Puerto Rico Inc. v. United States, --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2019 WL 5566322 (D.P.R. Oct. 28, 2019). Club Gallistico de Puerto Rico, Inc. (Club Gallistico) and the Asociacion Cultural y Deportiva del Gallo Fino de Pelea (Asociacion Cultural) both filed civil complaints against the United States Government. The complaints alleged that the Section 12616 amendments to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violated bedrock principles of federalism and rights protected under the United States Constitution. Both Club Gallistico and Asociacion Cultural are both non-profit organizations involved in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s cockfighting industry. The amendments to the AWA outlawed all animal fighting ventures in which animals were moved in interstate or foreign commerce in every United States jurisdiction. These amendments extended the ban to United States territories which the Plaintiffs argued the United States did not have the authority to do. Both cases were consolidated and heard by the District Court. The Court analyzed the amendments under the Federalism doctrine, the Commerce Clause, and the Territorial Clause. Extending the ban on live-bird fighting did not violate either of the three. Further, the amendments did not violate the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution or any other constitutional rights such as free speech or due process. The Court ultimately denied the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment and Granted Defendant United States’ Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment.

Plaintiff's securities fraud suit against SeaWorld based on SeaWorld's misstatements that the 2013 documentary Blackfish (a film about the controversy over captive killer whales) had no effect on park sales moves forward. Baker v. SeaWorld Entm't, Inc., Slip Copy, 2019 WL 6118448 (S.D. Cal. Nov. 18, 2019). Plaintiffs brought a securities fraud class action against the collective Defendants, including SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. This action involved statements and omissions made by the Defendants following a 2013 documentary titled Blackfish. The issues centered on the attendance impact that the documentary had on SeaWorld. Company-wide attendance declined in 2013 and 2014, however, several officials of the Company made statements that there was no attendance impact resulting from the documentary. Both Plaintiffs and Defendants moved to exclude the testimony of several experts. The Court ultimately affirmed its tentative rulings, denied Defendant’s motion to exclude the testimony of two of Plaintiff’s experts, granted Defendant’s motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. James Gibson, granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff’s motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. Craig Lewis, granted Plaintiff’s motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. Randolph Bucklin, and denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment. 

Case Archives


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).

Does Every Dog Really Have Its Day?: A Closer Look at the Inequity of Iowa's Breed-Specific Legislation, Olivia Slater, 66 Drake L. Rev. 975 (2018).

When Cheaters Prosper: A Look at Abusive Horse Industry Practices on the Horse Show CircuitKjirsten SneedKentucky Journal of Equine, Agriculture, & Natural Resources Law: Vol. 6 : Iss. 2 , Article 3 (2014).

Survey of Damages Measures Recognized in Negligence Cases Involving Animals, Alison M. Rowe, Kentucky Journal of Equine, Agriculture, & Natural Resources Law: Vol. 5 : Iss. 2 , Article 5 (2013).

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