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September News

  China faces possible sanctions by U.S. over failure to stop trade in critically endangered pangolins. Secretary Deb Haaland of the U.S. Department of the Interior notified the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives of her finding that nationals of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are diminishing the effectiveness of CITES by engaging in trade or taking of pangolin species, pursuant to the Pelly Amendment. Under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967, when the Secretary of the Interior finds that “nationals of a foreign country . . . are engaging in trade or taking which diminishes the effectiveness of any international program for endangered or threatened species,” such as CITES, the Secretary must certify that finding to the President. Once a Pelly Certification has occurred, it is then up to the President to determine whether to take action to encourage other nations to comply with treaty obligations, typically by unilateral trade sanctions. Pangolins, scaley mammals indigenous to both Africa and Asia, are the most heavily trafficked animals in the world due, in large part, to their value in traditional Chinese medicine.

   Texas enacts law banning convicted animal abusers from owning pets for five years. With HB 598 (V.T.C.A., Penal Code § 42.107) signed into law, Texas joins approximately 39 other states that restrain or ban animal offenders from possessing pets after conviction. As of September 1, 2023, Texas makes it a Class C misdemeanor to own or possess an animal within five years if previously convicted of cruelty to livestock animals (§ 42.09), cruelty to non-livestock animals (§ 42.10), or dogfighting (§ 42.10). State possession bans vary, with half of those states mandating bans at sentencing and the remainder giving a judge discretion to impose restraints on ownership. Most states have a five-year ban, but California allows ten years for a felony conviction and Delaware expands this to fifteen years. Several states including Maine, Michigan, and Washington enable courts to impose permanent relinquishment of the ability to own or possess animals. Check out our Map to see what your state law says.

   New Jersey enacts law to end cruel confinement of veal calves and pregnant pigs. On July 26th, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed A1970/S1298 into law. The bill prohibits the confinement of breeding pigs and calves raised for veal in a manner that unduly restricts movement or provides inadequate space. Violation of the bill’s prohibitions constitutes a disorderly persons offense and would also be a civil violation of the animal cruelty laws subject to a civil penalty of not less than $250 or more than $1,000. A gestation crate is a metal cage so small that a mother pig is unable to turn around or move freely for virtually her entire life. Veal crates are small, individual cages used to confine newborn calves prior to slaughter preventing almost any natural behavior and social interaction. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the bill's enactment reflects a 13-year campaign to lessen animal suffering and protect consumers from zoonotic disease potential linked to extreme confinement of farm animals.

News archives


Court upholds conviction for animal cruelty based on failure to groom dog. Commonwealth v. Deible,  --- A.3d ----, 2023 WL 4715187 (July 25, 2023). Appellant has owned the 17-year-old terrier dog since the dog was a puppy. At one point, the dog escaped from appellant’s home and was found by a bystander. This bystander testified that the dog’s fur was heavily matted, with objects stuck in its fur. Appellant testified that the dog was aggressive when she attempted to groom him, and that their veterinarian was supposed to groom the dog, but the dog’s veterinary records did not support this. The lower court found that there was sufficient evidence to charge appellant with animal cruelty, and ordered her to pay fines totaling $946.58 and forfeit ownership of the dog. Appellant filed this appeal to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence used to support her conviction of animal cruelty. The court found that there was sufficient evidence to support the cruelty charge, as the statute prohibits “ill-treatment” and the evidence of the condition of the dog supports that it was treated improperly. Appellant also argues that the court’s order for her to forfeit her dog was improper, but the court of appeals disagreed due to the pattern of neglect established by appellant’s history with the dog. Accordingly, the court of appeals affirmed the holding of the lower court.

In challenge to disciplinary action, while Texas veterinarian's use of "telemedicine" was protected speech, the regulation of this speech by Board was content neutral. Hines v. Pardue, --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2023 WL 5254673 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 15, 2023). Plaintiff veterinarian brings this action to challenge a Texas law that mandates a veterinarian conduct a physical examination of an animal before practicing veterinary medicine on the grounds that the law violates his First Amendment right to free speech. Plaintiff, who was unable to maintain a veterinary practice in person due to medical issues, began providing veterinary advice to animal owners via a website without first examining their animals. Plaintiff was disciplined by the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners for doing this, and was fined $500 and sentenced to a year of probation. Plaintiff then sued the members of the Board on two separate occasions, with the second appeal being remanded by the Fifth Circuit with instructions to determine whether the requirement for a physical examination before issuing veterinary advice regulates speech incidentally to the regulation of non-expressive professional conduct, or is a regulation of non-expressive conduct. Plaintiff argues that his email exchanges with animal owners constitutes speech, and the court agrees that this is speech and that the Examination Requirement regulates this speech. However, the court finds that this regulation of plaintiff’s speech is content neutral because the requirement for a physical examination of the animals before issuing advice applies neutrally to all forms of veterinary care and veterinary speech regardless of content. Therefore, the court held that defendants may enforce the Examination Requirement without violating plaintiff’s free speech rights.

Washington court denies plaintiff's application of public nuisance by zoo for alleged violations of wildlife and anti-cruelty laws. Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Olympic Game Farm, Inc., --- P.3d ----, 2023 WL 5281830 (Wash. Aug. 17, 2023). This case is brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (Plaintiff) against a private zoo based in Washington state, known as Olympic Game Farm, Inc (Defendant). Plaintiff argues that defendant has violated Washington’s wildlife laws, animal cruelty laws, and the Washington and federal Endangered Species Acts. Plaintiff also argues that defendant has created a public nuisance, which is a nuisance that “affects equally the rights of an entire community or neighborhood, although the extent of that damage may be unequal.” Plaintiff argued that they have demonstrated that defendant is in violation of animal cruelty and wildlife laws, and asked the court to name the violation of these laws as a public nuisance per se. The court found that previous cases regarding public nuisance claims limit those claims to instances of property infringement or threats to public health and safety. Accordingly, the court held that defendant’s alleged violation of the wildlife, animal cruelty, and endangered species laws, did not constitute a public nuisance.

Case Archives


Derechos de los animales en Colombia: una lectura crítica en perspectiva ambiental, Carlos Lozano, State Law Magazine, 54 (Nov. 2022), 345–380.

Forgotten Victims of War: Animals and the International Law of Armed Conflict, Saba Pipia, 28 Animal L. 175 (2022).

From Factory Farming to A Sustainable Food System: A Legislative Approach, Michelle Johnson-Weider, 32 Geo. Envtl. L. Rev. 685 (2020).

Backyard Breeding: Regulatory Nuisance, Crime Precursor, Lisa Milot, 85 Tenn. L. Rev. 707 (2018).

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).