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.

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.

Advocating for Justice in Oregon: Neglected Horse Sues Former Owner

In May 2018, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a unique lawsuit in Oregon on behalf of a severely maltreated horse named Justice. Justice suffered starvation, frostbite, and other grave injuries due to his owner’s failure to provide him with basic care.

Though Denied by New York Court of Appeals, Habeas Corpus Claim for Chimpanzees Prompts Reflection

On May 8, 2018, the New York Court of Appeals denied the Nonhuman Rights Project’s (NhRP) motion to review a lower court’s ruling that two caged chimpanzees were not subject to the law of habeas corpus.

Maryland Requires Research Facilities to Help Surviving Dogs and Cats Find Adoptive Homes After Experiments End

Maryland has joined the growing list of states that require research facilities to make efforts to find adoptive homes for healthy, surviving dogs and cats rather than putting them to death at the conclusion of the research.

Maryland Becomes Second State to Ban Retail Sales of Animals Sourced from Puppy and Kitten Mills

On April 24, 2018, Governor Larry Hogan signed into law HB 1662, the “No More Puppy-Mill Pups Act of 2018,” making Maryland the second state to ban the retail sale of dogs and cats obtained from commercial breeding facilities.
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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s ruling that Naruto lacked statutory standing to sue under the federal Copyright Act.

San Francisco Becomes First Major U.S. City to Ban Fur

San Francisco has become the third and largest city in the nation to prohibit the sale and manufacture of products containing animal fur.