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.
Animal Cruelty Charges Dropped Because Fish Are Not “Animals” Under North Carolina Law

Animal Cruelty Charges Dropped Because Fish Are Not “Animals” Under North Carolina Law

Animals are defined as “property” under U.S. law, which complicates efforts to advocate for them through the legal system. Property classification is not the only aspect of animals’ legal status that presents challenges.

Federal Farm Bill Includes Important Protections for Animals

The sweeping Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 — an omnibus federal law passed approximately every five years, commonly known as the “farm bill” — included several important provisions, including some victories for animals.

Guam Prosecutes First Felony Animal Neglect Case

When Guam enacted a felony animal cruelty law in 2011, the U.S. territory moved up 18 places on the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Animal Protection Laws State Rankings, showing the second most improvement of U.S. states and territories that year.
black bear

New Jersey Appellate Court Upholds Bear Hunt Ban on State Lands

In 2003, after a 33-year hiatus, the New Jersey Fish and Game Council reauthorized the hunting of black bears. In the years since, the bear hunt has frequently been the subject of litigation, and has been halted by some governors and reinstated by others.
dairy cows

Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Almond Milk Labeling Lawsuit

In an unpublished opinion issued December 20, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a class action against Blue Diamond Growers. The lawsuit alleged that the company’s almond milk products were mislabeled under FDA law.

Virginia Court of Appeals Upholds Bestiality Law

On January 15, 2019, the Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of a man who was charged with violating the state’s bestiality law after videotaping encounters he had with a woman and her dog.
New York Expands Law Allowing Companion Animals on Public Transit in Emergency Evacuations

New York Expands Law Allowing Companion Animals on Public Transit in Emergency Evacuations

In October 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation permitting companion animals to board any public transportation service in the event of a state of emergency and evacuation.
greyhound in blue

Wins for Animals in the 2018 Midterm Election

The recent midterm election included two big wins for animal protection: Amendment 13 and Proposition 12.

New York Distinguishes Animals from Other Property in Eviction Cases

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the “No Pet Left Behind” law in August 2018. The new legislation requires officers enacting an eviction warrant to check the premises for companion animals and to coordinate their safe removal.

California Enacts Law Requiring Plant-Based Options in State Facilities

In September 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1138, a law that makes California the first state in the nation to require prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, and other state-operated facilities to offer plant-based meals.