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.


After Groundbreaking Animal Rights Ruling, Islamabad High Court Continues to Affirm Original Decision

In the months following a groundbreaking decision from the Islamabad High Court in Pakistan that animals have legal and natural rights, Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued three subsequent orders, each affirming the court’s original ruling and expressing continued interest in the animals’ well-being.
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In an unpublished opinion issued December 20, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a class action against Blue Diamond Growers.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.

Brussels Recognizes Animals as Sentient Beings Distinct from Objects

On November 23, 2018, the Brussels Parliament unanimously voted to recognize animals – previously categorized with property and immobile goods – as a special category.

Missouri Passes Unconstitutional Law Restricting the Marketing of Alternative Meat Products

Missouri passed a law that prohibits many products — including plant-based and cellular meat — from identifying themselves as “meat.” The new legislation, which became effective on August 28, 2018, carries criminal penalties of prison time and fines.

California’s New “Pet Custody” Law Differentiates Companion Animals from Other Types of Property

On September 27, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2274, which empowers California courts to take into consideration “the care of the pet animal” in cases of marital dissolution or legal separation.

California Bans the Sale of Most Cosmetics Tested on Animals

On September 28, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1249, making California the first state to ban the sale of most cosmetics tested on animals. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2020.


  • Court Allows Lawsuit Against FDA to Proceed

    The United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and its co-plaintiffs, denying an attempt by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to dismiss a lawsuit against the agency.
    February 23, 2021 Press Release
  • Courtroom Animal Advocate Program Bill Passes New Jersey Senate

    A Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (CAAP) bill, S.2868/A.4533, which would allow law students and volunteer lawyers to advocate for animal victims in cruelty criminal cases, unanimously passed the New Jersey Senate. The bill is sponsored by Senator Nicholas Scutari and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji and endorsed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
    February 19, 2021 Press Release
  • State Animal Protection Laws Ranked: Maine is #1, New Mexico #50

    The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, has released the 15th annual year-end U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report (2020), ranking the animal protection laws of all 50 states.  
    February 17, 2021 Press Release