Skip to Main Content

Animal Law: Home

Other Nations

"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals... We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."

~Henry Beston, The Outermost House, 1928

What is Animal Law?

Animal law is the body of law involving human interaction with non-human animals, a relationship that goes back to prehistoric times.  As companions, commodities, edibles, assistants, performers, sacrifices, and experimental media, animals were historically considered property, and as such, human indifference and greed often resulted in cruel fates for those animals.

Happily, times and sensibilities are changing.  "The rise of animal protection laws in the United States over the last several decades is mainly a response by legislators to the heightened concerns of Americans about animal welfare, especially that of their pet dogs and cats.  People also became worried about the treatment of animals used in laboratories...and highly social and intelligent wild species..." --Jordan Curnutt, Animals and the Law (2001)

"Animal law can touch on all aspects of civil and criminal law.  However, it is more than that;  there is usually a passion for the well-being of animals that drives human interests.   For many, this passion ripens into a belief that animals deserve more respect than is reflected in the present legal system.  The law currently does not fulfill what many of us believe is an obligation to the animals sharing our lives and our world."  -- David Favre, Michigan Bar Journal (2013)


One Stop Shop

Here is your hands-down best starting place for information on animal law!  Federal and state laws with summaries and direct links, cases, local ordinances, pending bills & legislation organized by jurisdiction and by animal species. Animal law by topic or location worldwide, maps & comparative tables of state laws, news, new cases and topics, and a FAQ section all contribute to making this site both comprehensive and extremely useful.

Think About It

 "The question is not  'Can they reason?'  nor  'Can they talk?'  but,  'Can they suffer?' "

 Jeremy Bentham, The Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789)


Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Katie Crandall
Associate Director

Ask Us!

 Email Us!

  Call Us! 850-644-4095

 Follow Us!

 Like Us!

Select Topics in Animal Law

  • Abuse
  • Animal trafficking
  • Circuses & Zoos
  • Endangered & threatened species
  • Entertainment industry
  • Factory farming
  • Fighting & Gambling
  • Fur trade
  • Global warming
  • Hoarding
  • Hunting and fishing
  • Laboratory testing & Research
  • Landlord & Tenant
  • Pet custody in divorce
  • Pet food
  • Pet industry
  • Pet wills & Trusts
  • Pollution
  • Slaughterhouses
  • Strays
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Whaling
  • Wildlife

So You Wanna Be An Animal Lawyer?


Just What is Animal Law?

By David Favre, in the Michigan Bar Journal (2013)
Advice from several lawyers in the field, from the Animal Legal Defense Fund
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.