legal resources

The Animal Legal Defense Fund provides these resources to help you learn how animal protection laws function within the legal system.

Animals and the Law

The field of animal law is complex. Use these articles as a guide to understand the fundamentals.


Laws that Protect Animals

In the United States, animal protection laws can be enacted and enforced at every level of government. Most animal protection legislation happens at the state level.

The Link Between Cruelty to Animals and Violence Toward Humans

People who hurt animals don't stop with animals. There is an established link between cruelty to animals and violence toward humans — regularly referred to as “The Link.”
lab rat

Federal Laws and Agencies Involved With Animal Testing

This is a brief guide to the main federal laws and agencies involved with animal testing. As you'll see, there are few laws protecting laboratory animals, and little regulatory oversight to ensure compliance with these laws.

Animal Law 101

Simply defined, animal law is the combination of statutory and case law that relates to or has an impact on nonhuman animals. It encompasses companion animals, wildlife, and animals used in entertainment, research, and raised for food.

What You Can Do

Do you need help with a specific legal situation involving an animal? Our guides below are provided with that end in mind.


How to Help a Neighbor’s Neglected Animal

It can be heartbreaking to see a neighbor’s animal suffering in a situation of neglect. Depending on the situation, there are various ways you can help the animal or animals involved.

How to Find an Attorney to Help You With Your Animal-related Issues

Animal law is a relatively new, and growing, specialty within the law, and an increasing  number of lawyers specialize in cases involving animals. In most cases it is not necessary to find an attorney who specializes in animal law specifically.

What To Do When You Believe a Vet Has Harmed or Killed Your Companion Animal

You trust your veterinarian to diagnose, treat, and care for your animal family members. But what if you suspect that your veterinarian made a mistake — and that the mistake has hurt your animal?

What To Do If You Are Involved in a Custody Battle Over Your Companion Animal

This is a basic overview of what to expect if you are involved in a custody battle involving animals, along with helpful tips. It's not a substitute for an attorney.

How to help a neighbor’s neglected animal

Animal neglect is the failure to provide basic care required for an animal to thrive. At first glance, such cases may seem less egregious than a single, brutal act of violent abuse, but severe neglect can mean extended periods of extreme suffering.

Tips for Writing to Law Enforcement

Whether writing to a prosecutor, sheriff, investigator or judge, there is no substitute for the most effective way of communicating: letters.

Damages for Death or Injury of an Animal

This is a broad overview intended to be useful to caregivers of animals who have been injured or killed.

Other Resources

dog in front of a computer

Find Your House Representative

Elected officials want to hear from you. This is an easy way to look up their contact information.
an injured dog

Collaborative Response Project

The Collaborative Response Project supports a multidisciplinary response to animal crime through a partnership between local law enforcement agencies and a community veterinarian.

Craigslist Pet Ads: What You’ll See, How to Reply, and What to Expect in Response

Concerned about animal abuse facilitated by Craigslist posts, an Animal Legal Defense Fund supporter began responding to “pet” ads in September 2020. After responding to more than 400 ads, the supporter shares their experiences and tips for helping protect animals being traded on the platform.

Animal Sales and Rehoming Scams: How to Spot Them

While Craigslist officially bans the sale of companion animals, in reality such sales are common on the platform, with sellers often using the term “rehoming” in order to skirt the ban. Scams are widespread, with unethical breeders and dealers frequently selling animals who are sick, stolen, or even nonexistent.

Fur Sale Bans

The fur industry kills more than 100 million animals every year. Most of these animals, including minks, foxes, and chinchillas, endure extreme cruelty before being slaughtered. Help protect these animals by passing a fur sale ban in your city or county.

Animal Law Course Grants

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is expanding its existing “seed grant” program to also offer emergency grants to law schools who have had to cancel an animal law course for COVID-19 related reasons.

Ways to Give

Since 1979, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has been the leader in the fight to win animals the legal protection they so desperately need—and deserve. Your generous support is vital to our continued success.