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.


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.”

New York Becomes First State to Ban Cat Declawing

On July 22, 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Senate Bill S5532B/AB 1303, which bans the declawing of cats in the state of New York.

Colorado Passes Animal Possession Ban for Convicted Animal Abusers

Colorado’s new law prohibits those convicted of aggravated animal cruelty from owning, possessing, or caring for a “pet animal” for three to five years from their date of conviction.

New Mexico Bans Coyote-Killing Contests

On April 2, 2019, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 76, making New Mexico the third state to ban coyote-killing contests.