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.
- Monk seal pup found dead on Kauai with apparent dog bite wounds - KHON2 July 30, 2014 Monk seal pup found dead on Kauai with apparent dog bite woundsKHON2A Hawaiian monk seal pup has been found dead on Kauai, an apparent victim of a dog attack, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The pup was found early
- Councilman Seelbach proposes new vicious dog law - WLWT Cincinnati July 30, 2014 Councilman Seelbach proposes new vicious dog lawWLWT CincinnatiCouncilman Chris Seelbach is pushing for a change to the city's vicious dog law after a number of Tri-State maulings occurred over the summer. "If your dog attacks someone and almost
- Hawaiian monk seal pup killed by dog bite - Honolulu Star-Advertiser July 30, 2014 Hawaiian monk seal pup killed by dog biteHonolulu Star-AdvertiserA necropsy determined a dog bite most likely killed the 50-pound pup. The pup's mother had puncture wounds on her muzzle, indicating she may have been injured while attempting to
- Hawaiian monk seal pup killed by dog bite - Hawaii News Now July 30, 2014 Hawaiian monk seal pup killed by dog biteHawaii News NowA necropsy determined a dog bite most likely killed the 50-pound pup. The pup's mother had puncture wounds on her muzzle, indicating she may have been injured while attempting to protect her
- Dog bite victim says Town of Patagonia isn't doing enough - Nogales International July 30, 2014 Dog bite victim says Town of Patagonia isn't doing enoughNogales InternationalA Patagonia man who was recently attacked by a German shepherd said the town is not doing enough to protect its citizens from similar incidents. During the June 23
- ESA Section 9 Case Dismissed Because of Allegations re Take July 16, 2014 Earlier this month, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a lawsuit brought under section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because, instead of attacking a specific project or approval, the complaint
- Animals Need Lawyersand Animals Need You! June 27, 2014 ALDF works though the legal system to improve the lives of animals. We file lawsuits, we advise lawmakers, we help catch animal abusers, and we educate the next generation of animal lawyersall with the goal of protecting animals. When people
- Missouri's Right-to-Harm Amendment June 25, 2014 The August 5th primary election in Missouri will ask voters there whether to approve Amendment 1, which seeks to enshrine the "right to farm" in the state constitution. It's being pushed by the same politicians and special interests who tried to
- Legally Brief: the U.S. Must Ban Cosmetic Testing on Animals June 5, 2014 Some good news may be coming for animals: the Humane Cosmetics Act, introduced by Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) as "HR 4148." If passed, the Act would eliminate animal testing for cosmetics made or sold in the U.S. It would also make it illegal to
- Animal Legal Defense Fund April 28, 2014