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July 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.

  U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announces final rule to classify all chimpanzees as "endangered." Previously, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)  implemented what came to be known as "split-listing" for chimpanzees. This meant that wild-born chimpanzees were listed as "endangered" for purposes of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection while captive-born chimpanzees were listed as "threatened." Split-listing allowed some activities involving captive-born chimps that would have been otherwise prohibited under the ESA. The FWS states that the change in status was initiated by a petition from advocacy groups including the Jane Goodall Institute in 2010. The FWS found that threats to chimpanzee populations have " . . . intensified and expanded since wild populations were listed as endangered in 1990." According to the FWS, "[p]ermits will be issued for these activities only for scientific purposes that benefit the species in the wild, or to enhance the propagation or survival of chimpanzees, including habitat restoration and research on chimpanzees in the wild that contributes to improved management and recovery." To read the FWS press release, see To read the final rule published in the Federal Register, see

 By Just chaos [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons Florida enacts new law aimed at punishing those who portray their pets as service animals. In an effort to combat the use of fraudulent service animals, Florida now makes it a misdemeanor to "knowingly and willfully misrepresents herself or himself, through conduct or verbal or written notice, as using a service animal and being qualified to use a service animal or as a trainer of a service animal." This new section amended F. S. A. § 413.08, a law relating to the rights of an individual who has a disability, by adding paragraph (9). Violation is a misdemeanor of the second degree with a mandatory "30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities" or other organization at the discretion of the court. Florida now joins approximately 17 other states with laws that explicitly make such fraudulent misrepresentation a crime. To see those laws, check out the last column of our Table of State Assistance Animal Laws.

Bipartisan bill aimed at phasing out cosmetics testing on animals introduced in U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 2858, known as the Humane Cosmetics Act, was introduced in June by Representatives McSally, Beyer, Cardenas, and Heck. The bill would make it unlawful for any entity, whether private or governmental, to conduct or contract for cosmetic animal testing that occurs in the United States and affects interstate commerce. Violation would incur a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 per violation. The prohibition would be phased in, with a ban on cosmetics animal testing one year after the date of enactment, and three years after enactment for the sale of such products. The last action was on June 23rd, where the bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. To read the text of the bill, see

 Petition to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to reclassify all gray wolves in the conterminous U.S. to "threatened" denied. In what seems like a strange twist, several advocacy groups petitioned the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to reclassify most gray wolves from "endangered" to "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in an effort to provide a compromise in wolf protection. Currently, wolves are federally-listed as "endangered" in some states, but receive only limited state protections in other Western states. The petitioners claim that an overall federal listing of "threatened" would allow nuisance wolves to be killed by ranchers and livestock owners while providing protection in other situations for the species. The FWS stated, however, that the petition "does not present substantial information indicating that reclassification may be warranted." Read the press release issued by FWS at


New archives


United States v. Vance Crooked Arm, --- F.3d ---- 2015 WL 3542707 (9th Cir. 2015). A grand jury indicted Defendants on multiple counts of, among other things, knowingly and willfully conspiring to kill, transport, offer for sale, and sell migratory birds, including bald and golden eagles, in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) (Count I) and unlawfully trafficking in migratory bird parts (Count II – IV). On appeal, as at the district court, Defendants argued that the counts to which they pled guilty were improperly charged as felonies because it was only a misdemeanor under the MBTA to sell migratory bird feathers. On remand, the Defendants were given the option to withdraw their guilty pleas with regard to Count II, or the district court might consider whether to resentence their convictions on that count as misdemeanors.

Gruber v. YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, --- N.E.3d ----2015 WL 3534886 (Ind. Ct. App. 2015). An eleven-year-old boy was at a YMCA camp when a pig—which had never injured anyone or exhibited any dangerous propensities—stuck its head between the bars of its pen and grabbed the boy's hand, causing injuries. The boy and his mother sued the camp, and the lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the camp. On appeal, the boy and his mother asked the court to change the standard for liability of owners of domestic animals to that of strict liability when the animal was not a cat or dog. Since the Indiana Supreme Court precedent was clear that this general rule applied to all domestic animals—and not just cats and dogs—the court declined their invitation to alter the standard. The trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of the camp was therefore affirmed.

State v. Blatt,  --- S.E.2d ---- 2015 WL 3822761 (W. Va.  2015). The Circuit Court of Wayne County ordered that Tinkerbell, a female pit bull terrier, be destroyed pursuant to West Virginia's vicious dog statute, after she injured a neighbor child who was playing in the dog’s yard. The circuit court's decision ordering that Tinkerbell be destroyed relied on a presumption that pit bull dog breeds are inherently vicious. Because extensive debate exists, the court concluded that courts may not, upon judicial notice, rely solely upon a breed-specific presumption in ordering the destruction of a dog pursuant to West Virginia's vicious dog statute. In the absence of a breed-specific presumption, the court determined that neither the remaining findings of fact in the circuit court's destruction order nor the facts presented in the record provided satisfactory proof that Tinkerbell must be euthanized. Consequently, the court reversed the circuit court's destruction order.

Swilley v. State, --- S.W.3d ---- 2015 WL 3637850 (Tex. App. 2015). In the indictment, the State alleged Appellant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly tortured or in a cruel manner killed or caused serious bodily injury to an animal by shooting a dog with a crossbow, a state jail felony. The dog in question was a stray, which fell within the statutory definition of an “animal.” After a jury found Appellant guilty, the trial court assessed his punishment at two years' confinement in a state jail. On appeal, Appellant contended that the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial after the jury heard evidence of an extraneous offense also involving cruelty to animals. Since the video that mentioned the extraneous offense was admitted without objection, the court held the Appellant waived the error and the trial court did not err by denying Appellant's motion for mistrial or by giving the instruction to disregard and overrule Appellant's first issue. Additionally, the court held the evidence was sufficient for a rational trier of fact to have found, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Appellant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly tortured or in a cruel manner killed or caused serious bodily injury to an animal by shooting it with a crossbow.

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).