Animal & Dog Law
Animal law is the body of law surrounding pet ownership, wildlife, animals used in the entertainment industry and animals raised for food and research. Animal law is a combination of various areas of law, such as tort, criminal, contract and constitutional law. Important issues in animal law include animal cruelty, companion animal concerns, animal breeding and animal estate planning.
Animal protection laws, known as anti-cruelty laws, regulate the abuse of animals. The Animal Welfare Act authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate the use of animals in research settings, circuses and zoos. Additionally, every state criminalizes the commission of inhumane acts against animals. In many states, violation of these laws is treated as a felony. Animal cruelty laws address a wide variety of issues, including owner neglect, pet mills or "farms" and animal laboratory testing. The Humane Society of the United States works to shield animals from mistreatment by actively investigating potential abusers. Another prominent animal rights organization is the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), which seeks to protect abused animals through the legal system. The ALDF brings a number of lawsuits each year in an effort to eliminate animal cruelty.
Companion animals are all animals kept as pets or for recreational purposes. Companion animals include dogs, cats, horses and birds. Legal issues surrounding companion animals often involve owner liability for injuries, property damage or excessive noise. Most states have enacted statutes that hold a pet owner liable for all personal injuries and property damage inflicted by their animals. Some states limit liability to instances where the owner knew or had reason to know that their pet was dangerous or volatile. In cases of extreme negligence, or when injuries are especially severe, the state may impose criminal penalties on the animal's owner or caretaker. Pet owners may be able to defend claims against them if they can prove that the victim provoked the pet, the victim was trespassing or breaking the law, or that the victim knowingly undertook the risk of injury. Many states have enacted laws that provide remedies to those who complain of excessive noise from neighboring animals, specifically dogs. In states that do not address this issue directly, general nuisance laws may be used to obtain relief. Other legal issues involving companion animals include landlord-tenant disputes and "no pets" policies, vaccination requirements and wrongful death actions brought by owners for the loss of a pet.
The Animal Welfare Act, as well as individual state laws, regulate animal breeding. Such laws may restrict the breeding of particular types of animals, or ban the ownership of certain animals altogether. These animals are typically considered "vicious" creatures that pose serious risks to the community. By limiting the number of animals that may be bred, breeding laws also seek to reduce the number of homeless and neglected pets.
Animal Estate Planning
A relatively modern issue in Animal Law is animal estate planning. Pet owners are increasingly seeking legal guidance to establish trusts for their animals. Pet trusts provide for the care of an animal in the event of the owner's disability or death. In a traditional pet trust, the beneficiary of the trust is given detailed instructions for the proper care of the pet and may access the trust to pay for the pet's expenses. Traditional pet trusts give pet owners assurance that their animals will be cared for according to their specific wishes.
- Bill Introduced: S. 2193: Horse Protection Amendments Act of 2014 March 31, 2014 A bill to amend the Horse Protection Act to provide increased protection for horses participating in shows, exhibitions, or sales, and for other purposes.
- Bill Introduced: H.R. 4316: Endangered Species Recovery Transparency Act March 26, 2014 To amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to improve the disclosure of certain expenditures under that Act, and for other purposes.
- Bill Introduced: H.R. 4317: State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act March 26, 2014 To amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to require disclosure to States of the basis of determinations under such Act, to ensure use of information provided by State, tribal, and county governments in decisionmaking under such Act, and for other
- Bill Introduced: S. 3386: Limitations on Interrogation Techniques Act of 2008 July 30, 2008 A bill to prohibit the use of certain interrogation techniques and for other purposes.
- Bill Introduced: H.R. 5890: Citizen and Community Preparedness Act of 2008 April 23, 2008 To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to establish the Community Preparedness Division of the Department of Homeland Security and the Citizen Corps Program, and for other purposes.
- May is National Dog Bite Prevention Month - The Shippensburg News-Chronicle April 22, 2014 May is National Dog Bite Prevention MonthThe Shippensburg News-ChronicleMay is National Dog Bite Prevention Month. The United States Postal Service reminds customers to keep their dog properly leashed and restrained when mail is delivered to their
- Butts County boy recovering after dog-bite incident - jacksonprogress-argus April 22, 2014 Butts County boy recovering after dog-bite incidentjacksonprogress-argusAccording to a Butts County Sheriff's Office report, deputies responded to a dog-bite call in the 600 block of Lee Maddox Road in Jackson at approximately 1:22 p.m. April 12.
- 128 Local Dog Bite Cases in 2014 - WJHG-TV April 22, 2014 128 Local Dog Bite Cases in 2014WJHG-TVThe Bay County Health Department has reported 128 dog bites so far for the 2014 year, 16 in the month of April. Some are a result of the owners failing to leash their dogs. A local woman claims she and her dog
- Tips On Keeping Children Safer Around Dogs - North American Press Syndicate April 22, 2014 Tips On Keeping Children Safer Around DogsNorth American Press SyndicateThe insurance industry pays more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims each year. Fortunately, there are steps that parents can take to reduce the risk of problems when children and
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- En Banc Ninth Circuit Holds ESA Consultation Requirement Applies to Renewal of Long-Term Water Contracts April 18, 2014 In a unanimous decision, eleven active judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the duty to consult under section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when a federal agency action may affect a listed species
- California Fish and Game Commission Delays Listing Decision for Gray Wolf April 17, 2014 The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) unanimously voted to postpone a decision on whether to list the gray wolf (Canis lupus) under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). As we previously
- Incredible Scam to Kill Inedible Wolves April 16, 2014 There is more fallout from the Michigan wolf hunt scandal, in which state legislators relied on and trafficked in exaggerated and even fabricated stories about wolf incidents as they went about authorizing a hunt on the state's small population of...
- Natural Resources Committee Discusses Endangered Species Act Reform April 14, 2014 Earlier this week, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to discuss Endangered Species Act (ESA) reform. The hearing focused on four bills that seek to require data and spending transparency under the ESA. As previously reported, an
- Keep 'em Safe on your Horse and Don't Lose $300 grand April 14, 2014 A recent equine law Florida case provides valuable insights into ways YOU can avoid liability when allowing anyone to ride your horse.It is such a shame that fear of liability has caused so many of us to become hyperaware and fearful of accidents and