Criminal Justice

Collaborating with Prosecutors and Law Enforcement on Animal Cruelty Cases

Prosecutors and law enforcement often lack the resources or specific expertise needed to prosecute crimes against animals. To that end, the Animal Legal Defense Fund provides free legal assistance to prosecutors, law enforcement, and veterinarians handling animal cruelty cases. We also work with state legislators to strengthen criminal animal protection laws.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s attorneys have expertise in criminal animal law, including in-the-trenches prosecution experience. We work closely with esteemed national organizations like the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the National Sheriffs’ Association to provide training and resources to prosecutors and other law enforcement officials. In 2019, the Animal Legal Defense Fund began a partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) to address judicial response in court cases related to animal cruelty.

Association of Prosecuting Attorneys

  • Legal research: Performing legal research, formulating case strategies, and submitting amicus curiae briefs; providing sample pleadings, research memos, voir dire questions, jury instructions, and briefs on issues relevant to cruelty prosecutions
  • Professional trainings: Leading accredited training programs for police and animal control officers, prosecutors, judges, and veterinarians specific to animal cruelty cases
  • Grant funding: Offering grant money to help cover the costs of caring for seized animals, necessary forensic work, and obtaining expert witnesses
  • Expert witnesses: Securing and funding expert witnesses including veterinarians, animal behaviorists, and experts on organized animal fighting and animal hoarding
  • Legislative assistance: Producing model animal protection laws and annual Rankings Report on each state’s animal protection laws


  • Report animal cruelty to law enforcement. Animal cruelty is a crime: always call 9-1-1 if you witness animal cruelty.
  • “But what if I don’t know the right agency to call?” If you don’t know the name of the jurisdiction or how to contact the appropriate law enforcement agency, call 9-1-1 and they will inform you.
  • Contact us. If you have already reported your case to law enforcement, you can inform us of your case at The Animal Legal Defense Fund is not a law enforcement agency – your reporting the crime is the first important step toward justice in your case. Provide us with the name of the defendant, the county and state in which the crime occurred, the criminal charges, and a brief description of the crime. We can offer free legal assistance to prosecutors after criminal charges have been filed and will advise citizens, as appropriate.

2021 state rankings map

Do you know your state anti-cruelty laws? See them here.

Criminal Justice Program Team

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