Attorney Researcher Tutorial

Welcome to the Animal Legal & Historical Center – Are You Looking to Do Some Research?

This page will help you learn how to navigate some of the more complex areas of our site and is directed at researchers visiting the site. If you are looking for some general guidance on how to find answers to common legal issues or FAQs, please see our Introduction Page.


What we have

The  Web Center contains a collection of thousands of cases, laws, administrative regulations, municipal codes, and scholarly articles. Our laws are updated on an as-needed basis when changes come to our attention as well as a complete annual check of state and federal laws. If you are interested in tracking changes to animal laws over time, see the Amendments/History Page.  Also, if you remember seeing a case on our front page but can’t remember the name, see our Archives Page. While every attempt is made to keep our materials updated, the site does not guarantee their accuracy for citation purposes.


Keep informed

As a researcher of an issue, you may have first arrived at our front page. Here you can find news about recent legislation, current cases, or recently posted scholarly articles. Links to the actual materials are provided. This page is updated monthly.


Browse a Topic Area

Our website contains numerous Topical Introductions on a variety of animal law topics. By going to the purple navigation bar near the top of the page, you can browse these Topical Introductions listed under the main heading called Topics. Topical Introductions are collections of information on the site that give both a general summary of the issue along with an in-depth legal analysis. The Topical Introductions are sometimes the best place to start if you are researching a specific topic and need to know where to begin. Topics range from dog issues (like dog bite laws, lost dogs, divorce and pet custody issues) to complex federal laws such as the U.S. Endangered Species Act or the Animal Welfare Act. Once you click on our Topical Introductions launch page, you will find several categories of topics (for example “wildlife” for topics involving wild animals or “farm animals” for topics concerning animals kept for food or fiber). Clicking this will lead you to a page that gives links to these specific topics. At the topic page, you are brought to a summary of the issues with tabs above that can lead you to more in-depth information. To gain a complete understanding of the topic, you are encouraged to read the Detailed Discussion accessed at the top tab navigation. Detailed discussions provide direct links to the materials cited in the papers. Also, visiting the Related Materials tab for a topic will give you access to tables of laws and other related articles.


Check out comparative table of laws

Perhaps you are interested in learning more about all state laws covering a certain topic. You can do this by going to the purple navigation bar near the top of the page. Under Topics, you will find a link to a page that lists all of our Comparative Tables. These tables break down state laws into several key components. These tables cover issues from pet purchaser protection acts to humane officer enforcement laws to where a person should report suspected animal cruelty. Links to the actual text of the laws are provided within the table.


Primary legal materials: cases, laws, municipal codes, and administrative materials

In addition to comparative tables and topical introductions, you can search directly for primary legal materials by visiting upper navigation that appears on every page. You can search for laws, cases, and municipal ordinances by state. The laws are the most comprehensive source for state materials. First, select the desired primary material (case, statute, municipal ordinance, regulation, etc.) Next, narrow your selection by species, topic, or even keyword. Your search can be as general or specific as you desire. The laws are then displayed alphabetically by state abbreviation with a further breakdown for general topic (i.e., AL - Bear Protection or AL - Assistance Animals). This helps if you selected an individual state to see the entire body of laws from animal fighting to zoos.

You can also select laws, cases, ordinances, and administrative regulations by subject. The navigation allows users to find both state and federal laws and cases related to subjects like exotic pets, dangerous dogs, and endangered species. Simply select the appropriate topic in the pull-down up top to see all state, federal, or even multi-national laws for an entire animal-related topic.


Scholarly articles

Not only are cases and laws available for research, but readers can access hundreds of scholarly law journal articles and discussions written by editors at the Web Center.  Using the main navigation menu at the top, you can narrow your selection of articles by jurisdiction, topic, or even species. In this collection, you will see that maintain a complete collection of the Journal of Animal Law from Michigan State University College of Law and a large collection of volumes from the Animal Law Review based at Lewis & Clark School of Law. In addition, we’ve added two major animal journals from Brazil and Australia together with many articles concerning non-U.S. animal laws.


Animal law from around the world

Those interested in researching non-U.S. animal laws, can do this by selecting countries through the top navigation . Here you will find a robust collection of materials from countries such as Brazil, the UK, Australia, and Canada along with pieces from other nations.


How it all gets started: pleadings from actual animal law cases

Lawyers and other legal practitioners may find benefit in searching our collection of court documents known we term our "pleadings" materials. Again, the top naviagation allows reader to find briefs, complaints, and other documents by plaintiff name or by topic, state, or species by narrowing your results. Among our collection includes all the filing in the Ringling Brothers elephant case and numerous examples of cases involving damages to pets.

This is just a sampling of all that we have at the Web Center.  If you have an issue for which there is no topic or you just don’t know where to start, we also have a keyword search box at the top, or feel free to contact us so that we can help guide you in your research.