Vol. 80, No. 11, November 2007
"No man shall exercise any Tirranny or Crueltie towards any bruite Creature which are usuallie kept for man's use." 1641 Massachusetts Colony [Nathaniel Ward]1
American laws concerning animals have been in existence since the formation of the colonies, as evidenced above by the Massachusetts Bay Colony statute written by Nathanial Ward in 1641.
Today, animal law is no longer the fringe field it once was considered. Lawyers are encountering new and diverse legal challenges in the area, and it is now a hot topic among legal scholars. Animal matters come up in areas including cruelty prohibitions, divorce law, estate planning, intellectual property concerns over the patenting of laboratory animals, and business concerns. Some 40 law schools, including Harvard, the University of California, Berkeley, and Rutgers, now offer classes in the subject, and there is both an animal law review and an animal law casebook. Harvard, which has an endowment for the teaching and study of animal rights law, hosted its second annual animal law moot court competition in February 2007.2
Wisconsin's Leadership in Animal Law
Mary J. Koshollek, Marquette 1993, is director of information and records services at Godfrey & Kahn S.C., Milwaukee. She has taught advanced legal research as an adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School and is a frequent lecturer and author on legal research for professional associations. She serves on the board of the Private Law Libraries, Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries.
Wisconsin always has been forward looking in this area as shown by several animal-related statutes. Wisconsin's agricultural economy and the lack of qualified veterinarians spurred early development of laws and regulations for the veterinary profession. By 1890, Wisconsin was among a handful of states that had enacted or were considering laws to regulate veterinary practice.3
Not only are large animals covered under our state laws, but domestic pets are as well, as typified by Wisconsin's "Leash Law," found at Wis. Stat. section 174.02.4 Legislators have examined other topics such as puppy mills and service animals (see below). A comprehensive listing of all Wisconsin statutes affecting animals is available at the Animal Law Center's Web site.5
The state continues to be a leader in the animal rights area. For example, at the time of this writing, two bills are pending in the Wisconsin Legislature on pets in broken family situations. One bill, introduced by Senators Fred Risser, Tim Carpenter, and Julie Lassa, expands the definition of domestic abuse to include harm or its threat to animals and would allow pets to be included in restraining orders.6 Another bill involves the placement of pets in a divorce.7 Sponsored by Rep. Sheryl Albers, the latter bill is one of the first in the country to address the growing issue of pet custody and was the topic of national coverage.8
This webliography highlights some of the best Web sites to find information on rights and legal concerns surrounding animals and is organized by specific topic. It includes sites from organizations, agencies, and academia, and also highlights legal blogs. Although it concentrates on American law, a few international sites are listed. The webliography attempts to demonstrate the wide variety of viewpoints and subtopics that have developed and currently are available on the Internet.
AnimalLaw.com, among the best of the general sites, provides access to legislation and information about legal matters pertaining to the rights and welfare of animals. AnimalLaw.com provides information concerning general animal welfare, animal cruelty, animal control issues, laboratory animal welfare, and the use of animals in education, product testing, and laboratory research. Pet Abuse.com has a matrix showing which states have and have not enacted felony laws concerning cruelty to animals. Animal and especially dog law statutes are well covered at Justia. The site organizes several categories and includes links to specific states. An exhaustive list of links also appears at MegaLaw.com.
Federal agencies have several sites that widely cover the area. The Animal Welfare Information Center from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is an agency mandated "to provide information for improved animal care and use in research, testing, teaching, and exhibition." Among the notable information on this site is a list of federal laws and regulations related to animal welfare. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, lists policies and papers on the humane use and care of lab animals. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers a Handbook of Facts About Federal Wildlife Laws, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries' Office of Protected Resources has a Web site summarizing laws and policies.
The American Humane Association (AHA) is a leader in animal protection, although its mission "is to prevent cruelty, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of children and animals." Its animal welfare activities include adoption, animal care, disaster relief, farm animal protection, education, and legislative action. A notable part of its site includes a listing of state laws on animal fighting. The AHA also oversees use of animals in films and television.
Two familiar organizations are the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The mission of HSUS is "to promote the protection of all animals." Its various programs and services cover pets, wildlife, farm animals, marine animals, and animals in research. This site also includes legislative information. The ASPCA has several helpful tools, including an anticruelty resource center and a chart showing state anticruelty investigatory and arrest powers.
The National Animal Interest Alliance is an association of business, agricultural, scientific, and recreational interests formed to protect and promote humane practices between people and animals. The site includes information on legal and legislative resources, including a guide to developing pet-friendly ordinances.
Animals that are used in the biomedical field are the focus of interest for the National Association for Biomedical Research, Animal Law Section. Its site provides summaries of legislation, regulations, case law, and institutional standards related to the use of animals in research and lists organizations, law school courses, and bar associations.
World Animal Net works to improve the status and welfare of animals and has more than 3,000 affiliates in more than 100 countries. Its Web site provides a listing of animal protection societies with consultative status at the United Nations. Similarly, the International Institute for Animal Law has worldwide interests and counts as members attorneys and judges from around the world. The institute is dedicated to creating and supporting programs that will enhance the development of laws that protect animals. The site includes an excellent bibliography.
In light of recent recalls of pet foods, the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) overview of pet product laws may be of particular interest. The APPMA was founded in 1958 as a not-for-profit association serving the interests of American pet product manufacturers and importers. The value of this Web site lies in its "Products and the Law" section, providing access to a bill tracking service (for subscribers only), laws and regulations, and a variety of other types of information.
The American Bar Association also has recognized the importance of animal law and now has a committee devoted to it. The ABA Animal Law Committee is a subgroup of the Tort, Trial and Insurance Law Section, and its Web site contains links to the committee's newsletter and legislative tracking projects.
Several groups actively monitor animal issues. The Institute for Animal Rights Law continues to emphasize drafting laws and filing amicus briefs in important animal rights cases and providing legal support to animal rights activists. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, formed in 1979, has an email news service for cases and articles on legal issues related to animal law. Similarly, the National Anti-Vivisection Society carries news and legislative links to the latest information on using animals in product and drug testing. Finally, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with more than 1.8 million members and supporters, is the largest animal rights organization in the world and maintains a very active presence on the Web.
Several U.S. law schools provide links to animal law issues on their Web sites. The National Center for Animal Law at Lewis and Clark Law School was among the first of the law school-affiliated animal law programs in the nation. The site is a great resource for curricula in the area, listing student competitions and other educational resources. One particularly helpful link gives an overview that illustrates the wide topical reach of animal law issues.
The Michigan State University College of Law: Animal Legal & Historical Web Center is an important resource that includes a Web library of legal and policy materials related to the welfare and preservation of animals. Users can access legislation and case law by selecting a state, subject, or species from drop-down menus. The site includes a topically arranged menu that points to information on animal rights and wildlife management. Also included are non-U.S. laws, pleadings and briefs, historical policy and laws, and full-text journal articles.
Law library staffs at academic institutions have created detailed resource guides in the area that are a boon to any researcher. The Stanford Law School Library has a research paper entitled Non-Human Animals and the Law: A Bibliography of Animal Law Sources. The very detailed list of resources includes not only books but also the tables of contents of books, articles, and other sources found at the library. Other lists can be found at Georgetown Law Library, Gonzaga, the University of Chicago, and Suffolk Law School. These aids briefly outline the area and list applicable research sources. The Georgetown library also maintains an excellent webliography of international animal law sources, covering treaties, national laws, cases, and book resources.
Gary L. Francione, professor at Rutgers School of Law, maintains the Animal Rights - the Abolitionist Approach blog, which focuses on animal rights activism. The Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy has the goal of investigating the ethical, legal, social, and scientific dimensions of human-animal studies. The site contains a list of helpful links that are relevant to the work of the Center and of the university's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
The University of New Mexico's Center for Wildlife Law is the only national center dedicated to education, research, and analysis of state, national, and international wildlife laws. The Center maintains a Web site with links to federal and state wildlife law handbooks.
The Wisconsin Humane Society site is a great resource to find Wisconsin animal welfare laws. The site includes a 2003 memorandum summarizing animal welfare laws that was prepared for the Wisconsin Humane Society by senior staff attorney Mark C. Patronsky of the Wisconsin Legislative Council, at the request of Rep. Jon Richards.
An excellent webliography on animal law is maintained by the Wisconsin State Law Library staff and contains lists of federal legislation and local ordinances. The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau recently wrote two papers: 1) Puppy Mills: State Licensing of Pet Breeders & Dealers; and 2) Service Animals. These legislative briefs examine the passage of the 2001 puppy mill law and the 2006 laws related to the treatment of service animals and their owners.
The Dog Federation of Wisconsin is a group of dog owners, breeders, hunters, exhibitors, trainers, mushers, veterinary personnel, and other pet professionals who are interested in protecting rights to own and enjoy dogs. The group actively monitors canine-related legislation in Wisconsin, and the site carries news articles on various bills making their way through the legislature.
Journals and Law Reviews
The Animal Law Review from the Lewis and Clark Law School is perhaps the best-known journal devoted to animal law. It is a forum to educate readers about all sides of current animal-related legal issues. Summaries of articles from past issues are available from the Web site. The Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy, produced in conjunction with the Stetson University College of Law, addresses legal and political issues concerning management of wildlife species.
The Wildlife Law News Quarterly, from the University of New Mexico, reports on the latest developments in the area of wildlife law and policy. The Web site features concise articles on state, federal, and provincial cases, attorney general opinions, major legislative developments, and federal rules pertaining to threatened and endangered species.
Animal Specific Sites - Dogs
Legal topics covering dogs are well represented on the Web. Canine Legal Update & Opinions contains summaries of police dog and canine-related opinions from the U.S. Supreme Court and other state and federal courts. Entry to the site is limited to law enforcement officials. A Lawyers.com page entitled "Dog Bites" covers legal topics such as liability of the owner, suing after an injury, and insurance issues. Another page, Dog Bite Law, is a resource for victims of dog bites and includes extensive coverage of topics such as what to do after a dog attack, resolving dog bite claims, possible criminal penalties, what to do if your dog is injured or killed, and more. Finally, the National Canine Research Council provides detailed information and statistics on human and canine behaviors that have contributed to cases of severe and fatal dog attacks. The council investigates and analyzes the circumstances, behaviors, and environments that result in incidents of severe and fatal canine aggression.
Law-related Web sites concerning cats are not as prevalent as those for dogs. However, the article "Domestic Cat & the Law" from the Law Librarian's Resource Exchange (LLRX) provides a comprehensive guide. Written by Stephen Young, reference librarian at the Catholic University of America, the list includes links to landmark court cases, federal legislation and regulations, including the Animal Welfare Act, bibliographic information on recent publications, and links to organizations and groups. The Cat Fancier's Association (CFA) has a Web page, Changing Laws About Cat Ownership, that covers feral cats, leash and limit laws (those laws or ordinances setting a limit on the number of animals allowed per household), rabies vaccinations, and more.
Horse breeding and boarding and other equine business concerns are represented by several excellent Web sources. The National Agricultural Law Center has an Equine Law Page that collects law review and other journal articles related to horses. The University of Vermont sponsors a Web site entitled Equine Law and Horsemanship Safety that contains extensive links to statutes, cases, and articles on equine law and is regularly updated. Equine Legal Solutions is a law firm Web site that deals primarily with horses and the law. The site contains a "helpful links" page that directs users to more sources on legal issues and various breeds and also has a blog.
The National Agricultural Law Center offers subject-based "reading rooms" in all aspects of agricultural law, including animal-related topics. Links are provided to major statutes, regulations, case law, Federal Register Digest reports, center-published research articles, government publications, Congressional publications, and numerous other resources.
The LLRX has another webliography entitled "Laboratory Animals: An Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Narrative & Research Guide." The guide, dated 2005, lists laws, articles, and Web sites in the area.
Summaries of federal acts related to wildlife conservation, animal welfare, pollution control, and more can be found at Federal Wildlife and Related Laws Handbook: Statute Summaries from the University of New Mexico's Wildlife Law Program. The Washburn University School of Law sponsors an excellent page entitled Washlaw Wildlife Law Page, which lists links to various sites and Web guides from government, academic, and private sources.
Sites related to veterinary practice can be helpful for finding guidelines and ethics concerning the practice of animal medicine. The American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) has a Web site that includes an "Issues" page that covers statements on animal welfare and euthanasia and a link to the AVMA's code of ethics.
The American Veterinary Law Association is a national association of attorneys, veterinarians, and other individuals and organizations with an interest in veterinary medical law. The site has a useful set of links to other legal sites to keep track of the rising tide of new issues. Net Vet: Veterinary Government & Law Resources is a Web page produced by Ken Boschert, a veterinarian at Washington University's Division of Comparative Medicine, located in St. Louis. Boschert has collected links to several animal- and law-related sites and updates this site regularly.
Whether you are interested in the legal treatment surrounding a specific animal species or a particular legal topic, Web sites abound on animal law. The issues will only become more complex as the area of animal law develops, and the Internet will remain as an important vehicle to monitor and communicate the latest legal thinking.