Landmarks & Victories
Since the very beginning, cutting-edge lawsuits have been at the heart
of ALDF’s work to protect the lives of animals. ALDF has been at the
forefront for more than three decades, pushing government agencies to do
their jobs to protect animals and shining a national spotlight on
issues like factory farming and dissection in schools. Take a look at
our work for animals over the years, or a more in-depth look at our Landmark Cases.
|2013:||In February, the Oregon Zoo paid $400,000 to buy its new baby elephant Lily and her father, Tusko. A loan breeding agreement between the Zoo and notorious abuser Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) had come to light, showing that both Lily and Tusko were legally owned by HTWT. ALDF joined in the massive public outcry by writing two letters to the Zoo’s governing entity, calling for a voided breeding agreement. Two days after ALDF’s second letter, the Zoo and HTWT performed a sale that removed any possibility of the elephants transferring to HTWT.
||In December, a Colorado judge sentenced a 73-year old animal abuser to nine and a half years in prison for poisoning two neighbor dogs with strychnine-laced meatballs. ALDF assisted the local police department with the case and helped ensure the criminal prosecution of felony aggravated animal cruelty and witness intimidation charges.
||In August, a North Carolina judge granted Ben the Bear permanent sanctuary at the Performing Animal Welfare Society as a result of a lawsuit against Jambbas Ranch—ALDF attorneys worked to represent the plaintiffs. Ben had languished for years on cement in a chain-link kennel-- he now has the chance to live like a bear should, with plenty of space to roam, play, and forage in his new habitat.
||The Indiana Department of Natural Resources announced in August that the abuse of turtles at the annual Ohio County event known as “Snapperfest,” where “contestants” demonstrate their prowess by pulling the heads of live turtles far outside of their shells, would not take place this summer. The announcement followed an ALDF petition for rulemaking to the state which argued that a misinterpretation of Indiana law was allowing for illegal cruelty at the event.
||In a groundbreaking decision for animal law, an Oregon appeals court ruled in favor of the state’s argument, supported by an ALDF amicus brief, that individual animals can be considered “victims” of acts of cruelty and neglect. The decision overturned the trial court’s ruling that the state was the lone “victim” in a case where a defendant was convicted of 20 separate counts of animal neglect involving 20 individual horses.
||In June, ALDF and the Palm Springs Animal Shelter settled a lawsuit alleging extremely high euthanasia rates of adoptable animals, lack of veterinary care, and the misuse of the term, "no-kill" at the shelter. This settlement will bring the shelter up to an acceptable standard, making accurate reporting, quality care, and accountability a priority.
|2012:||In June, ALDF finalized a settlement and court order resolving a lawsuit alleging widespread egregious animal abuse and neglect at Cal-Cruz Hatcheries, Inc., a Santa Cruz, Calif. hatchery that processed millions of birds each year destined for the chicken and duck meat industries. Following the lawsuit, which was based on an undercover video, Cal-Cruz is no longer in operation, and the former owner may no longer work with animals.
|2011:||In December, ALDF – on behalf of a broad coalition of public interest organizations – sent a letter to state legislators,
urging them to oppose any legislation that criminalizes attempts to
document unlawful, inhumane, and environmentally destructive conduct on
factory farms. In addition, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the National District Attorneys Association joined ALDF in opposing "ag gag" legislation.
|2011:||In November, ALDF won its lawsuit
to free Tony the Tiger from the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete,
Louisiana. The judge ordered the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and
Fisheries to revoke the current permit and prohibited it from issuing
any new permits to the Truck Stop.
|2011:||In October, the Center for Animal Law Studies in collaboration with the Animal Legal Defense Fund announced it will be launching an Animal Law LL.M. (Master of Laws) program. The LL.M. degree will be offered starting fall 2012.
|2011:||In October, Albany County Legislature (New York) voted unanimously to establish an animal abuser registry, making it the third county in New York to pass such a law.
|2011:||In September, West Hollywood city council voted unanimously to prohibit the sale of fur apparel products in the city limits. The law was based on model law language provided by ALDF.
|2011:||In June, Rhode Island passed a "First Strike & You're Out" law, keeping convicted abusers away from potential new animal victims. ALDF's Legislative Affairs assisted with the legislation.|
|2011:||In June, ALDF’s Legislative Affairs worked with the state organization Nevada Voters for Animals on the passage of Cooney’s Law, making the most heinous acts of cruelty against dogs, cats and companion animals a felony on the first offense.|
|2011:||ALDF joined with other animal protection, domestic violence and law enforcement organizations to draft and advocate for a new legislative proposal that would fully protect animals within Oregon’s domestic violence protective orders. The new law passed in June.|
|2011:||Rockland County’s animal abuser registry proposal was approved by a unanimous vote on May 17, making it the second in the country to adopt a registry.|
|2011:||On May 6, ALDF won its lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, preventing the Department from renewing the annual permit that allowed Michael Sandlin, owner of Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop, to display Tony, a ten-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger.|
|2011:||In February, Guam voted to dramatically strengthen the territory's laws protecting animals. Guam’s new legislation adopts robust minimum care standards and other definitions which mirror much of what is contained in ALDF's model animal protection laws.|
|2011:||Suffolk County, New York Majority Leader Jon Cooper sponsored ALDF’s National Justice for Animals Week 2011, February 20 – 26. Suffolk County created the nation’s first animal abuser registry in October 2010.|
|2011:||ALDF awarded a $3,900 grant to the Deschutes County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office to be used to care for neglected, abused and abandoned livestock that are seized during investigations.|
|2010:||ALDF’s nationwide push to develop a system for law enforcement officials and the public to find out when a convicted animal abuser is in their community scored a historic victory when lawmakers in Suffolk County, New York voted unanimously to create the country’s first animal abuser registry.|
|2010:||In November, ALDF filed its third lawsuit in Kentucky over deplorable shelter conditions, this time in Clay County. This so-called animal shelter -- a place that should offer hope and sanctuary to animals in need -- is more like a filthy prison, where many, if not most, of the dogs are housed in one large, open-air pen that does not protect them from the elements.|
|2010:||ALDF secured full and permanent custody of eight severely neglected horses after a judge ordered Robert Collier, the horses’ owner, to pay $96,000 for the cost of caring for the horses. Collier agreed to give up all rights to the horses which means they will never be returned to their abuser.|
|2010:||In June, ALDF came to the rescue of endangered sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico who were being burned alive after the massive oil spill. With a coalition of three other environmental and animal protection organizations, ALDF filed a lawsuit that forced British Petroleum and the Coast Guard to allow animal advocates to identify and rescue the sea turtles before cleanup workers ignited fires that trapped these magnificent turtles in blazes that shot hundreds of feet into the sky.|
|2010:||In February, the City of West Hollywood, California passed an ordinance, drafted by ALDF working with local activists, effectively banning the sale of animals bred at "puppy mills."|
|2010:||On the same day ALDF launched its Expose Animal Abusers campaign, California Senator Dean Florez announced a bill to create an animal abuser registry for the state that would require animal abusers to register in their communities.|
|2010:||The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a California law banning the use of sick and disabled (“downed”) animals in the human food supply after ALDF and other animal protection organizations intervened in a meat industry lawsuit that sought to overturn key provisions of California’s newly upgraded law banning the use of sick and disabled animals in the food supply.|
|2010:||After more than 100 live and approximately 150 dead Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes were removed from Kenneth Lang Jr’s filthy home in 2009, ALDF provided a grant of $3,500 to allow the Dearborn Police Department to conduct necropsies on 10 of the Chihuahuas whose bodies were removed from freezers on 56-year-old Lang’s property. Kenneth Lang Jr. pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in January 2010.|
|2009:||ALDF helped launch the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School, which develops and provides essential programs and services for law students under the guidance of experienced animal law professors and ALDF attorneys.|
|2009:||ALDF won a tremendous victory in securing permanent custody of seven horses rescued from Michael, Judy, and Gayle Keating, the abusive North Carolina owners who allowed them to starve nearly to death, in the case of ALDF v. Keating.|
|2009:||When two Kentucky county shelters failed to provide basic, humane conditions for stray dogs and cats, ALDF filed concurrent lawsuits in each county. Both Robertson and Estill County agreed to oversee critical improvements for homeless animals in their shelters. The new shelters now provide a higher standard of care and a superior home for the animals, and adequate veterinary care is a guarantee.|
|2009:||After Max the kitten was kicked down a flight of stairs by Dustin Teahon of Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska, ALDF assisted County Attorney Tiffany Wasserburger with the daunting legal challenge of preventing Max from being returned to his abuser's home. Ultimately, Teahon was sentenced to jail, and the judge allowed Max to be adopted into a new, loving home.|
|2009:||A 2007 report from the National Research Council called for a sustained, well-funded effort that moves away from using live animals to test the toxicity of industrial chemicals and pesticides. ALDF teamed with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School and the Environmental Law Institute to actively support the changes recommended in the NRC’s report and developed symposia to explore non-animal toxicity tests.|
|2009:||On October 6, the United States Supreme Court directly addressed the issue of animal cruelty for the first time in more than fifteen years. ALDF submitted an amicus curiae brief in the case of U.S. v. Stevens, urging the Court to uphold the law and recognize that the prevention of cruelty to animals is a compelling government interest.|
|2009:||The American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) Animal Law Committee honored ALDF Founder Joyce Tischler with the Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award.|
|2009:||Shortly after ALDF ranked New Brunswick as one of the “best places to be an animal abuser” in Canada, the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly unanimously approved a new law that strengthened laws protecting animals, making New Brunswick’s maximum fine the highest for this offense in Canada.|
|2009:||ALDF's Pamela Frasch was appointed the nation’s first-ever dean in the field of animal law. Robert Klonoff, Dean of Lewis & Clark Law School, created the only dean-level position in the nation to head up the law school’s animal law program.|
|2009:||When a young pit bull named Sierra was at risk of being returned to the man who beat her regularly and even shut her head in a sliding glass door, ALDF attorneys placed a lien on the dog for the cost of helping her recover from her multiple fractures so that she could be permanently adopted into a new, loving home.|
|2008:||Thanks to the concerted efforts of ALDF and two dozen other animal protection organizations, two hundred dogs, along with fifty cats, were freed from appalling conditions at the All Creatures Great and Small “no kill” shelter in North Carolina. In this urgent situation for hundreds of suffering dogs, ALDF’s exhaustive research provided the basis for the civil complaint that allowed the State Department of Agriculture to seize the facility’s animals and shut it down forever.|
|2008:||In August, ALDF filed lawsuits in Kentucky against Estill and Robertson Counties for neglecting their homeless animals, despite their legal requirement to provide basic humane care.|
|2008:||ALDF released the first-ever Canadian Animal Protection Laws Rankings report and the third annual State Animal Protection Laws Rankings report, ranking the animal protection laws of every state and province based on their relative strength and general comprehensiveness.|
|2008:||After the district attorney enlisted ALDF's expert recommendations, two men were sentenced last April to jail time, mental health evaluations, and prohibitions on contact with animals after torturing their roommate's 7-week old kitten, White Socks.|
|2008:||Thanks to a new law written by ALDF, criminals convicted of dogfighting in the state of Virginia will face even tougher legal penalties. The new law gives prosecutors the power to go after dogfighting operations as organized criminal enterprises, providing advantages such as tougher sentences, larger fines and forfeiture of assets – key legal tools in combating organized dogfighting rings.|
|2008:||In May, the deputy county attorney in Platte County, Nebraska, requested ALDF’s assistance with a case against the owner of Puddles, a 13-year-old Bichon Frise who had suffered such severe neglect that he had to be euthanized. Taking a hands-on approach, ALDF was in the courtroom, outlining key portions of the State’s closing argument which led to the conviction of Puddles’ neglectful owner.|
|2008:||When Denver reinstituted an ordinance banning pit bull ownership within the city limits and unfairly punished dogs who never acted in an aggressive manner, ALDF took a firm stand against breed specific legislation. ALDF filed an amicus brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in the case of Sonya Dias, et al. v. The City and County of Denver, Colorado, et al. The case was brought by plaintiffs, owners of pit bulls, who were faced with moving out of Denver or risk the seizure and killing of their beloved dogs by local authorities.|
|2008:||After the swift rescue of more than 100 neglected and suffering dogs from a North Carolina hoarder in December, 2007, four individuals came forward claiming they owned some of the dogs ALDF rescued from this hoarding situation. Testing new legal theories, ALDF sued the four individuals for permanent custody of the rescued dogs. As a result, ALDF was awarded permanent custody and all of the dogs are now living in new, loving homes.|
|2008:||ALDF called on Kentucky's legislature to push for comprehensive changes in its laws protecting horses and other animal; the Bluegrass State ranked dead last in the nation for animal protection laws in 2008.|
|2008:||When Lucky, Jacks and Pepper were seized in Linn County, Oregon, due to severe neglect, the Animal Legal Defense Fund jumped in, concluding the pre-conviction civil forfeiture case, which ensured that the horses went immediately to loving foster homes rather than back to their abusive owners.|
|2008:||In the November 4th election, Californians voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition 2, a historic measure endorsed by ALDF and hundreds of animal protection organizations, veterinarians, environmental groups, and family farmers. The measure will ban some of farming’s cruelest confinement practices, including veal crates for baby calves, gestation crates for pregnant sows, and battery cages for egg-laying hens.|
|2008:||The Animal Legal Defense Fund dismissed its lawsuit against Corcpork, Inc. (ALDF v. Corcpork) California’s largest industrial pig farming operation, after the facility agreed to close, effectively stopping the abusive practice of confining thousands of female pigs in crates so tiny that they could not even turn around.|
|2008:||Country music icon Willie Nelson joined the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s fight to end the intensive confinement of dairy calves by endorsing our “Free Baby Mendes” campaign. Willie, along with over 30,000 other individuals, signed on his support to end the factory farming practice of housing newborn calves in crates so small they can’t turn around or lie down naturally—the conditions that instigated our lawsuit ALDF v. Mendes.|
|2007:||In the wake of Michael Vick’s arrest, ALDF proposes model laws to Virginia and Georgia legislatures that would strengthen prosecutors’ abilities to go after dogfighters.|
|2007:||Final victory for hundreds of rescued dogs when the North Carolina Supreme Court upholds ALDF’s win against hoarders Robert and Barbara Woodley.|
|2007:||ALDF launches petition drive
against Land O’ Lakes and Challenge Dairy.
|2007:||ALDF refiles lawsuit against California pig farm Corcpork, Inc., just weeks before world’s larges pork producer, Smithfield Foods, announces gestation crate phase out.|
|2007:||Settlement reached in ALDF v. Conyers, providing swift relief for 100+ dogs in North Carolina hoarding case.|
|2006:||In the case of Cat Champion Corp. v. Jean Marie Primrose, handled by ALDF and involving 11 neglected cats, the Oregon Court of Appeals becomes the first court in the U.S. ever to state that a fiduciary can be appointed on behalf of an animal owner to determine what is in the best interest of her and her pets and to grant a limited protective order allowing an animal protection organization to be the fiduciary making that determination.|
|2006:||Chimpanzees Sable, Cody, and Angel head for retirement at sanctuaries as a result of a settlement in ALDF’s year-long lawsuit against their “trainer,” Sid Yost. The suit alleges that Yost (who denies the allegations despite shocking eyewitness testimony; Statement of Settlement) subjects them to violent beatings in order to force them to perform for Hollywood appearances.|
|2005:||ALDF goes to court against North Carolina animal hoarders Barbara and Robert Woodley; ALDF is granted a permanent injunction against the Woodleys in the largest civil animal cruelty case in history and given custody of their 325 dogs, pending appeals.|
|2004:||ALDF holds the Future of animal Law Conference at Yale Law School, exploring how U.S. law is evolving to reflect Americans’ changing attitudes about animals.|
|2003:||ALDF works with activists in Texas and Colorado to halt the killing of thousands of prairie dogs.|
|2002:||ALDF drafts stronger anti-cruelty legislation for West Virginia, Wyoming, Washington, and Alaska. Since the start of the Zero Tolerance for cruelty campaign, the number of states with felony anti-cruelty laws climbs from 7 to more than 40.|
|2001-3:||ALDF and the Fund for Animals sue the federal government to halt a plan to remove hundreds of wild horses from their rangeland.|
|2001:||A groundbreaking ballot initiative to outlaw cruel “gestation crates” for pigs in factory farms is drafted by ALDF counsel. The initiative becomes law in 2002.|
|2001:||ALDF drafts legislation making Oregon the first state to legally recognize the link between violence to animals and humans.|
|2000:||ALDF helps draft the “T-Bo bill” making Tennessee the first state to allow human guardians to sue for emotional distress damages when their companion animals are wrongfully killed. The bill is later signed into law.|
|1999:||ALDF wins a landmark victory in the “Barney” case, establishing the right of animal advocates to challenge federal agencies regarding the treatment of animals under the Animal Welfare Act.|
|1998:||ALDF sues the Missouri Conservation Commission over a proposed river otter trapping season. ALDF defeats a plan to trap river otters in Idaho.|
|1997:||ALDF and the Great Ape Project team up to form the Great Ape Legal Project, a campaign to win legal rights for great apes, including the right to life, liberty, and freedom from torture.|
|1996:||ALDF sues the USDA for its failure to protect primates in research facilities and roadside zoos under the Animal Welfare Act.|
|1995:||ALDF helps defeat legislation that would have sent 148 Air Force “space chimps” to a research facility.|
|1995:||ALDF drafts the "Kittles Bill," which passes into law as Oregon's felony anti-cruelty law and provides a model for other states to improve their laws. District Attorney Joshua Marquis describes it as the toughest animal cruelty law in the United States at the time of its passage.|
|1994:||ALDF successfully sues the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Academy of Sciences for excluding animal advocates from a committee revising NIH standards for treatment of animals used in research.|
|1993:||ALDF launches the Zero Tolerance for Cruelty campaign.|
|1992:||An ALDF lawsuit forces the University of Vermont to make the records of its animal care and use committee available to the public.|
|1991:||ALDF sues the USDA after the agency fails to set adequate standards to protect primates and dogs in research laboratories.|
|1990:||ALDF sues the federal government for failure to protect rats and mice under the Animal Welfare Act.|
|1990:||ALDF challenges the composition of the Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Board, which had been controlled by hunting, fishing, and trapping interests.|
|1989:||An ALDF lawsuit stops annual bear hunts in California.|
|1988:||ALDF sues to halt the patenting of genetically altered animals.|
|1987:||ALDF goes to court to stop trophy hunting of California mountain lions.|
|1986:||ALDF attorneys block a USDA plan to brand dairy cows on the face with hot irons.|
|1985:||ALDF challenges the use of barbaric steel-jawed leghold traps in New York.|
|1983-4:||ALDF stops a research dealer from importing 71,500 monkeys for use in laboratory experiments.|
ALDF successfully halts a U.S. Navy plan to kill more than
5,000 wild burros.