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.
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.

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.