District of Columbia

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Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Thomas J. Vilsack

In this case, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sought to intervene on a proceeding dealing with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a family owned-zoo in Iowa for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The USDA was seeking enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act against the Iowa zoo and the ALDF sought to intervene because it has long criticized the zoo's care and handling of its animals. The ALDF was prevented from intervening by the administrative law judge (ALJ) that was presiding over the matter. The ALJ did not allow the ALDF to intervene in the matter on the basis that the “ALDF’s stated interests were beyond the scope of the proceeding.” The ALDF filed suit challenging this decision according to Section 555(b) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which allows “interested persons” to participate in agency proceedings “so far as the orderly conduct of the public business permits.” The court found that the ALDF should have been allowed to intervene in the proceeding according to 555(b) because the ALDF’s "demonstrated interest in the welfare of the zoo's animals falls squarely within the scope of the USDA enforcement proceeding.” The court also found that there was no evidence to suggest that having ALDF intervene would "impede the orderly conduct of the public business permits.” As a result, the court held in favor of the ALDF’s motion for summary judgment and remanded the case back the case back to USDA for further consideration of ALDF's motion to Intervene. 

D.C. - Animal Control - Subchapter III. Release of Animals.


This D.C. law states that no animal shall be released from custody of animal protection except for the purposes of adoption, redemption by the owner of the animal, or other suitable placement in the best interest of the animal. No animals shall be knowingly released from any entity charged with animal protection for the purposes of research, experimentation, testing, or medical instruction or demonstration. Violation is a misdemeanor.

D.C. - Breeder - Subchapter II. Commercial Licensing Requirement.


These D.C. laws require that the Mayor establish licensure requirements for commercial animal breeders in the District of Columbia. The rules must contain requirements as to licensing fees, standards of care, and facility inspection. For the purposes of this section, the term “commercial animal breeder” means any person, firm, organization, or corporation engaged in the operation of breeding and raising more than 25 animals per year for sale or in return for consideration.

D.C. - Exotic Pets - § 8-1808. Prohibited conduct.

Among other things covered under the law, this D.C. law prohibits the importation into the District, possession, display, offering for sale, trading, bartering, exchanging, or adopting, or giving as a household pet any living member of the animal kingdom including those born or raised in captivity, except the following: domestic dogs (excluding hybrids with wolves, coyotes, or jackals), domestic cats (excluding hybrids with ocelots or margays), domesticated rodents and rabbits, captive-bred species of common cage birds, nonpoisonous snakes, fish, and turtles, traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes, and racing pigeons (when kept in compliance with permit requirements).

D.C. - Wildlife Control - Chapter 22 Wildlife Protection

The following D.C. statutes provide the legal requirements for wildlife control service providers, which are defined as operators of businesses which involve the charging of a fee for services in wildlife control. Specifically, these statutes provide provisions about capturing target animals and non-target animals, as well as indicating how often a wildlife control service providers must check their traps.

DC - Assistance Animals - Chapter 20A. Pet Ownership Restriction in Assisted Housing.

The owner or operator of locally assisted housing accommodations for elderly or disabled people may not prevent a tenant from keeping common household pets. However, an owner or operator may require the removal of pets whose conduct or condition constitutes a threat or nuisance to the health or safety of the other occupants. A violation is a civil infraction that may result in a fine of up to $300.

DC - Cruelty - Consolidated Cruelty Statutes

This D.C. statutory section comprises the anti-cruelty and animal fighting provisions.  Whoever knowingly overdrives, overloads, drives when overloaded, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, cruelly chains, cruelly beats or mutilates, any animal, or knowingly causes such acts, or one who unnecessarily fails to provide proper food, drink, air, light, space, veterinary care, shelter, or protection from the weather, faces imprisonment up to180 days, or a fine of $250, or both.  Actions that result in serious bodily injury or death to the animal result in felony prosecution with imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or a fine of $25,000, or both.  "Animal" is defined by statute as all living and sentient creatures (human beings excepted).  This section also prohibits animal fighting as either a felony (i.e., wagering or conducting the fight) or a misdemeanor (knowingly being present).

DC - Cruelty - Subchapter V. Classroom Animals.

These DC statutes allow animals of appropriate size and temperament be kept in classrooms for instructional purposes. The animals must be provided with sufficient food and water, and be cared for in a safe and humane manner. If the animals are no longer needed, they should be adopted out or given to a local humane organization for adoption.

DC - Cruelty, reporting - § 22-1002.01. Reporting requirements.

This District of Columbia statute requires that any law enforcement or child protective services employee who knows or has reason to suspect than an animal is experiencing cruelty, abandonment, or neglect shall provide a report of the abuse within the speciified time. The statute also states that any employee who observes an animal at the home of a person reasonably suspected of child, adult, or animal abuse should report it. The statute also specifies what information the report must include for completion.

DC - Disaster - Subchapter VI. Animal Emergency Preparedness.

This DC law provides that the Mayor must establish an emergency preparedness plan for the protection, sheltering, and evacuation of domestic animals during and following a major disaster or emergency within 90 days of December 5, 2008.

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