The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Animal Law Update is a series highlighting legal and policy developments in the rapidly emerging field of animal law.


New California Laws Aim to Save More Companion Animals in Shelters

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed two bills intended to reduce the killing of adoptable companion animals in the state.
The Islamabad High Court has held that animals have natural rights and are entitled to protection under the Pakistani constitution. The case before the court was threefold, involving an elephant held in solitary confinement at a zoo, a rescued bear who had been forced to “dance” and perform tricks, and the killing of stray dogs.

New German Law Will Mandate Minimum Exercise Requirements for Dogs

Proposed amendments to Germany’s Animal Welfare Act aimed at ensuring the species-specific needs of dogs are met include minimum exercise requirements, tethering prohibitions, and a ban on exhibiting dogs who have been bred to have characteristics that cause physical distress.

Though Ruled Unconstitutional, Industry Continues Pushing Ag-Gag Laws: Updates in North Carolina, Kansas, Iowa, and Ontario

In the first half of 2020, there were multiple developments in the realm of Ag-Gag laws — so named because they criminalize whistleblowing and undercover investigations in agricultural facilities, thus “gagging” activists and others who expose animal abuse in factory farms and slaughterhouses.
dog and vet

New Kentucky Law Allows Veterinarians to Report Animal Cruelty

Kentucky has amended its law prohibiting veterinarians from reporting suspected animal cruelty. Advocates worked for years to change this law, which had good intentions regarding personal privacy but unintended consequences for animal victims of abuse.

China Reclassifies Dogs from “Livestock” to “Companion Animals”

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting criticism of the dog meat trade from Chinese citizens, the national government of China has issued draft guidelines to reclassify dogs from “livestock” to “companion animals.”
In the U.S., some municipalities are grappling with whether pigs kept as companions should be allowed in residential areas that exclude animals legally defined as “livestock.”
brook trout

Federal Judge Strikes Down “Lake Erie Bill of Rights”

On February 27, 2020, a federal judge struck down as unconstitutional a first-of-its-kind law granting basic rights to Lake Erie.

Australian State Bans “No-Pets” Policies in Rental Housing

The Australian state of Victoria has enacted important legislation to prohibit landlords from banning companion animals in rental housing.

Michigan Becomes Latest State to Ban Eggs from Caged Hens

Michigan has become the fifth and largest egg-producing state to enact a “cage-free” egg law.

Australian Capital Territory Enacts New Law Recognizing Animal Sentience

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has passed important legislation recognizing that animals are sentient, having the ability to “subjectively feel and perceive the world around them.”