Animal Law Legal Center home page

June 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.

Harvard Primate Research Center at Harvard Medical School closes. The center, located about 25 miles west of Boston, closed at the end of May in accordance with a decision made two years ago, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The center came under scrutiny when it was assessed a large fine by USDA-APHIS for deaths and inadequate care of several monkeys used in research. The Harvard medical school dean stated in a Boston Globe article that the closing was unrelated to the reported animal welfare concerns and the center offers no further explanation on its website. However, the Globe article exposes what it terms a "fundamental breakdown of basic procedures" in the investigation of the incidents. The center has been in the process of relocating approximately 2,000 monkeys. Read the Boston Globe article at

 By Just chaos [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons People's Republic of China announces a phase-out of processing and sale of ivory during symbolic ivory crush. For the first time, China has committed to phase-out the country's legal ivory industry. Ivory trade threatens the existence of endangered elephants, which are killed by the thousands to keep up with demand. China is said to be the largest market for trafficked ivory. According to the Guardian, more than 22,000 elephants are killed each year just for their ivory. The symbolic crushing of confiscated ivory products is said to demonstrate a commitment to combat trade in illegal wildlife products. Read the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's statement on China's ivory crush at and the Guardian article at

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


Missouri Pet Breeders Ass'n v. Cnty. of Cook, --- F.Supp.3d ----2015 WL 2448332 (N.D. Ill., 2015). Cook County passed an ordinance that required a “pet shop operator” to only sell animals obtained from a breeder that (among other requirements) held a USDA class “A” license and owned or possessed no more than 5 female dogs, cats, or rabbits capable of reproduction in any 12-month period. Plaintiffs, a professional pet organization and three Cook County pet shops and their owners, sued Cook County government officials, alleging that the ordinance violated the United States and Illinois Constitutions. Defendants moved to dismiss the action. After concluding that plaintiffs had standing to pursue all of their claims, with the exception of the Foreign Commerce Claim, the Court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss all claims, but gave Plaintiffs a chance to cure their complaint's defects by amendment.

United States Ass'n of Reptile Keepers, Inc. v. Jewell, --- F.Supp.3d ---, 2015 WL 2207603 (D.D.C, 2015). On a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin implementation of the 2015 Rule (80 Fed.Reg. 12702 ), the US District Court for the District of Columbia  addressed whether the U.S. Department of Interior acted within its authority when it issued Lacey Act regulations prohibiting the interstate transportation of certain large constricting snakes. The United States Association of Reptile Keepers argued that since the Lacey Act “[did] not encompass transportation of listed species between two states within the continental United States,” the Department of Interior exceeded its authority. Relying on the history of zebra mussels and bighead carp, the Department argued that it did not. The Court, however, found the Department had failed to establish that that history was sufficient to confer an authority on the Department that Congress did not confer when it enacted the controlling statutory text. The Court ruled the preliminary injunction would issue and ordered the parties to appear for a status conference on May 18, 2015 to address the scope of the injunction.

Gonzalez v. Royalton Equine Veterinary Servs., P.C., 7 N.Y.S.3d 756 (N.Y. App. Div. 2015). Veterinarian contacted State Police after allegedly observing deplorable conditions in Plaintiff's barn. The premises were subsequently searched, and a horse and three dogs were removed and later adopted. Plaintiff commenced an action in City Court for, inter alia, replevin, and several defendants asserted counterclaims based on Lien Law § 183. The Lockport City Court entered partial summary judgment in favor of owner and ordered return of animals. On appeal, the Niagara County Court, reversed and remanded. Owner appealed to the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, New York. The Court found the Niagara County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc. (SPCA) was not required to bring a forfeiture action to divest Plaintiff of ownership of the seized animals because the animals were kept in unhealthful or unsanitary surroundings, the plaintiff was not properly caring for them, and the plaintiff failed to redeem the animals within five days before the SPCA was authorized to make the animals available for adoption. The city court’s order was affirmed as modified.

Keith v. Commonwealth ex rel. Pennsylvania, Dep't of Agric., --- A.3d ----, 2015 WL 2214849 (Pa. Commw. Ct., 2015). This case focuses on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's preliminary objection that Petitioners' had taxpayer standing to request injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment that regulations promulgated by the Department were in conflict with the mandates set forth in the Pennsylvania Dog Law Act. Petitioners asserted that the Department was not authorized to exempt nursing mothers from the statutory ban on metal strand flooring and from the statutory requirement of unfettered access to exercise areas. Department argued that Petitioners had not pled sufficient facts to show that those directly and immediately affected by the regulations were beneficially affected. The court found Petitioners were at least as well inclined and situated as any other entities to challenge regulations that might be in conflict with those provisions. The court therefore overruled the Department's preliminary objections to Petitioners' standing.

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).