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 Cruelty

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

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.

Animal Breeding

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.

LegislationFeed

NewsFeed

  • 9-month-old in critical condition after dog bite - NBC4i.com December 10, 2016 NBC4i.com9-month-old in critical condition after dog biteNBC4i.comXENIA, Ohio (WDTN) – A 9-month-old child was flown to Dayton Children's Hospital after being bitten by a dog Friday afternoon. It happened around 1:30pm in the 800 block of…
  • 1 in ER for dog bite and other reports - Albert Lea Tribune December 9, 2016 1 in ER for dog bite and other reportsAlbert Lea TribuneSabrina Maria Angel Truesdell, 29, turned herself in on a local warrant at 1:19 a.m. today at 411 S. Broadway. 1 in ER for dog bite. One person was reportedly in the emergency room from a dog…
  • Holland City Council Amends Leashed Dog Law - WHTC December 8, 2016 WHTCHolland City Council Amends Leashed Dog LawWHTCHOLLAND, MI (WHTC) - Dog lovers in Holland got an early Christmas gift from City Hall last night. The City Council approved an ordinance amendment allowing canine owners to walk their leashed animals…
  • Police officer sues security firm over dog bite - Cayman News Service December 7, 2016 Cayman News ServicePolice officer sues security firm over dog biteCayman News Service(CNS): A police officer who was dispatched to the Fairbanks Immigration Detention Centre in May 2014 when a group of Cubans was trying to escape is suing The…
  • Man guilty in August dog bite case - Pine Bluff Commercial December 6, 2016 Man guilty in August dog bite casePine Bluff CommercialA Pine Bluff man whose dogs got out and attacked another man in August, causing serious injuries, pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating the county's animal control ordinance. District Judge Kim…

BlogsFeed

  • Thought of the Day: "But the World Won't Go Vegan Overnight" December 9, 2016 This was originally published on December 9, 2016 on the Abolitionist Approach Facebook page. ********** If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it's about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But…
  • Trump's holiday bonus for big ag December 8, 2016 A number of anti-animal politicians have been under consideration for cabinet posts in the Trump administration, but the president-elect has selected one of the very worst to lead the Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott…
  • Protecting Yourself After Slipping December 8, 2016 Every year thousands of people across the nation are injured in slip and fall accidents. But what is a slip and fall accident? And at what point does the fault lie with the person who has slipped or fallen? And at what point should the property owner…
  • New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Challenges U.S Fish and Wildlife's Release of Mexican Wolves December 7, 2016 Pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's ("Service") appeal from a district court decision enjoining the Service from releasing Mexican wolves into New Mexico without the requisite state…
  • Attention Michigan: A Call to Save Michigan's Wolves December 7, 2016 The Animal Legal Defense Fund urges Michigan residents to take action once again to save the state's wolves. Compassionate residents have voted to protect wolves—but elected officials are bending to the will of special interest groups in an…