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.


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.”

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.
crested macaque
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.
family dog

Illinois Becomes Second State to Require Courts to Consider Well-being of Companion Animals in Custody Disputes

The emerging “best interests” standard, in contrast to a strict property analysis, regards companion animals more like children or other dependents than unfeeling objects.

Switzerland Bans Practice of Boiling Lobsters Alive Without Stunning First

This groundbreaking law bans the common practice of dropping lobsters and other crustaceans into boiling water without stunning the animals first.