A law is only as strong as its rate of enforcement

The Animal Legal Defense Fund brings lawsuits to enforce animal protection laws. But sometimes we aren’t able to sue, to help animals who are being harmed.

This may be because there is no law being violated, or because the government agencies charged with enforcing the laws refuse to do so and we do not have the standing to bring a lawsuit ourselves.

Government agencies are often tasked with interpreting and implementing laws. This includes regulations that agencies create and execute. The body of law involving these agencies is called “administrative law,” and the process of enacting and enforcing rules and regulations is the “regulatory process.”

We advocate for better, stronger animal protection laws and regulations. And we also use the regulatory process, to urge agencies to fulfill their duties and protect animals to the extent required by the law.

Here are some ways that the Animal Legal Defense Fund works within the regulatory process to protect animals:

  • We file petitions for rulemaking: The Administrative Procedures Act allows any person or organization to request that a federal agency issue, amend or repeal a rule or regulation. We ask for tougher regulations and rules that are within the agency’s purview.
  • We submit comments on proposed rules and regulations: Agencies considering changes to rules or regulations, or new rules or regulations, will solicit comments from the public and interested organizations. These comments must be considered, before the proposed changes may be made.
  • We also put out alerts encouraging the public to submit comments of their own so the agency will aware that this is an issue people care about — and, with a critical mass of comments, will be inclined to respond to the public’s concerns. This is a critically important part of the regulatory process.
  • We ask agencies to fulfill their regulatory duties: Regulations and rules must be enforced, to be effective. The Animal Legal Defense Fund urges agencies to fulfill their regulatory duties, when they have failed to do so — and we issue alerts asking the public to do the same.This is an especially helpful course of action when someone is violating the law in ways that harm animals, but there is no “standing” for us to bring a lawsuit.

When possible and necessary, these requests may be followed by lawsuits, asking courts to compel agencies to fulfill their legal duties.

Recent Cases


Urging USDA to Revoke AWA Exhibitor License from Jason Clay (2024)

The Animal Legal Defense Fund submitted a complaint urging the USDA to investigate and revoke the AWA license for convicted wildlife trafficker Jason Clay, who is doing business in Texas as two entities, Franklin Drive Thru Safari and East Texas Zoo & Gator Park.
Demanding USDA Institute Regulatory Framework to Govern Wildlife Services

Demanding USDA Institute Regulatory Framework to Govern Wildlife Services

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, as part of a coalition, submitted a petition for rulemaking to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service urging Wildlife Services to phase out lethal control of wild animals, including prohibiting specific practices such as neck snares, M-44 cyanide bombs, lead bullets, and more.

Urging USDA Not to Support Factory Farm Biogas in IRA

Nearly 200 groups sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) warning that nearly $2 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funding intended to boost climate-smart agriculture could instead go to polluting factory farms.
Tule Elk

Urging NPS to Implement Plan to Conserve Native Tule Elk Population


Urging FSIS to Require Video Cameras to Observe if Slaughtering Pigs with CO2 Complies with Federal Law

Comments were submitted to the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service urging the agency to require the use of video cameras inside gondolas during the slaughter of pigs with CO2 to ensure compliance with the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Humane Method of Slaughter Act

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