Animal Law - Guide to Wildlife Law

What is Animal or Wildlife Law?

Animal Law and Wildlife Law refer to the body of law affecting the rights, status, and welfare of animals and/or wildlife. Many of these laws pertain to animal cruelty, animal control, laboratory animal welfare, the use of animals in education, product testing and in the laboratory.


Animal law issues encompass a broad spectrum of jurisprudential approaches, such as philosophical explorations of the rights of animals to the pragmatic discussions of animal handler rights. It also addresses questions such as who has standing to sue when an animal is harmed and what constitutes animal cruelty from a legal standpoint. Many areas of the law play a role in animal and wildlife law, such as torts, contracts, criminal, and even constitutional matters. Animals can be affected by divorces, housing disputes over pet policies and discrimination against service animals, damages for the death or injury of an animal, criminal sanctions for illegally harming or killing a wild animal, and many other circumstances.


Animal and wildlife law has grown in popularity so much that it is now taught as a specialty in over 119 United States law schools.

If you want additional information about Animal and Wildlife Law, please review the materials provided below. Additionally, you can find an attorney who specializes in Animal and Wildlife Law on the Law Firms page of our site.


Know Your Rights!

Articles on Related to Animal and Wildlife Law

  • What You Need To Do After Being Bitten By a Vicious Dog
    Dog bites occur all the time across the country. Something many people do not realize is that you have legal rights if a dog bites you. You can file a claim to be compensated for anything from medical bills to lost wages.
  • Fight Or Flight: Defending Yourself Against Dog Bites and Attacks
    Millions of people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States. It might be a neighbor dog that was previously friendly, or a strange dog that you encounter while out walking. Either way, dog bites and attacks can cause serious injuries, and national headlines reflect horror stories of fatal attacks and dog maulings. What do you do in the event that you are threatened by a dog? Should you stand your ground and fight?
  • Homeowners Insurance and Dog Bites in Maryland
    In 2014, Maryland lawmakers elected to do away with laws that impose different liability standards on dog owners based on what breed of dog they own.
  • What to do when Bitten by a Dog in California and How to Protect Your Rights
    Dogs are a very important part of life in California and can bring companionship and joy in a person’s life. However, some dogs can also be dangerous and aggressive at any moment.
  • 5 Important Steps to Take after a Dog Bite Accident
    If you or someone you know was bitten by a dog, it is important that you consult with a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will make sure that you get the proper medical treatment, find out as much as possible about the dog that bit you, get witness statements regarding your attack and the dog’s previous behavior, and identify sources of compensation for your loss. Your New Jersey dog bite lawyer will build a strong case and aggressively pursue the compensation you deserve.
  • My Dog Just Bit Someone, What Do I Do?
    Most people see their pets in a light similar to their own children. So, when a dog misbehaves it may be easy for an owner to overlook the bad behavior and forgive the errant puppy. But, what if the dog bites someone? Are there legal ramifications? What should an owner do?
  • California Dog Bites – What You Need to Know to Keep Yourself, Your Family, and Your Dog Safe
    Dogs play many roles in our society. They sniff out drugs and bombs, guide the blind, and protect our properties. Most dogs, though, have only one job: to be a loyal, loving companion. It can be easy to forget that dogs still share many physical characteristics with wolves, the apex predators from which they have descended, and have the capacity to seriously injure or even kill a human being.
  • Common Defenses Against a Dog Bite Lawsuit in West Virginia
    Under West Virginia’s dog bite laws, a dog owner is liable for the bite if the animal was loose at the time of the incident. These strict liability laws mean the dog bite victim doesn't need to prove the dog owner was aware of any previous incidences of biting or even knew the dog would bite a person. But the law does allow dog owners to mount some common defenses against a dog bite lawsuit.
  • What to do in the Case of a Dog Attack
    While dog bites are fairly common, unprovoked dog attacks are not. However, as we recently saw in the viral video of a cat saving a human child from an attacking dog, they do occur. Therefore, it is important that you know what to do in case of a dog attack. These tips can help you rectify a situation with a potentially dangerous animal.
  • Roller Coaster Wrongful Death at Higher Rates than Shark Deaths
    While most of us worry about swimming too far off the coast during a summer vacation, we don't realize that we're more at risk on a roller coaster than a shark when venturing outdoors this season.
  • All Environmental and Natural Resources Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Environmental and Natural Resources including: agricultural law, animal law, energy, environmental law, equine law, forestry and fisheries, natural resources, oil and gas.

Animal and Wildlife Law - US

  • Animal Law Center (ALC)

    The Animal Law Center (ALC) provides an array of legal services for animal owners and guardians. The ALC is committed to practicing and advancing the law to provide the most protection available to animals and the most recourse to those who make animals an integral part of their lives — whether as a pet owner, an equestrian, a rancher, a non-profit organization or a conservation biologist. In practicing animal law, the ALC specializes in using innovative tools we have developed to represent animal-related issues in judicial, legislative and transactional forums.

  • Animal Law Committee – ABA

    The mission of the Animal Law Committee is to evolve our thinking on animal issues for both the United States and the world. By attracting the best and brightest lawyers in this country, with a wide variety of perspectives, we will look at animal-related problems and issues today, and think about new ways to define, manage, and solve them. Utilizing problem-solving strategies, we will also look at the law as it exists today-fragmented around the country-and envision what it could be. The TIPS ABA Animal Law Committee will be the instrument of a paradigm shift, and will bring to the table and address legitimate business and economic interests, and humane concerns.

  • Animal Rights Laws - Anti-Cruelty Statutes by State

    Animal Rights Laws as they apply to individual American States.

  • Animal Welfare Act

    The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) spells out the minimum standards of care and treatment required for certain animals used in research, bred for commercial sale, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the agency responsible for establishing these minimum standards of care and enforcing them through inspections.

  • Animal Welfare Information Center

    This page provides information on federal laws, and regulations that govern animals used in research, testing, teaching, and exhibition. It also provides animal welfare guidelines, policies and codes of practices from around the world.

  • Federal Legislation on Animal Cruelty and Rights

    The Humane Society of the United States is committed to achieving progress for animals through federal legislation. Our U.S. government is responsible for all interstate commerce and import or export of animals, as well as for enforcing existing laws for animal protection [PDF]. Legislation in Congress addresses a wide variety of concerns, including companion animals, wildlife, farm animals, animals in research, and animals used for entertainment.

  • Humane Society - U.S. Cruelty Statutes and Penalties

    AHA's campaign against violence to animals has led us to investigate the cruelty statutes in all fifty states, and Washington, DC. As a result of that investigation, we have compiled a list of the basic aspects of each state's statute in a format that allows you to quickly determine how your state's laws measure up.

  • Laws Protecting Animals in Research - Public Health Service Policy

    The Health Research Extension Act of 1985 called upon the PHS, acting through the NIH, to establish guidelines and procedures for the proper care and treatment of animals used in biomedical research conducted or supported by PHS.

  • Misdemeanor or Felony - Animal Cruelty by State

    Is animal cruelty a misdemeanor or felony in your State? Find out here.

  • National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) - Animal Law Section

    The NABR Animal Law Section focuses on the potentially disruptive and rapidly growing area of animal law. Animal rights advocates are using increasingly sophisticated and coordinated legal strategies in an attempt to incrementally change our laws as they relate to animals.

  • Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW)

    The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) provides guidance and interpretation of the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, supports educational programs, and monitors compliance with the Policy by Assured institutions and PHS funding components to ensure the humane care and use of animals in PHS-supported research, testing, and training, thereby contributing to the quality of PHS-supported activities.

  • Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare Law

    Sec.495. (a) The Secretary, acting through the Director of NIH, shall establish guidelines for the following: "(1) The proper care of animals to be used in biomedical and behavioral research. "(2) The proper treatment of animals while being used in such research. Guidelines under this paragraph shall require- "(A) the appropriate use of tranquilizers, analgesics, anesthetics, paralytics, and euthanasia for animals in such research; and "(B) appropriate pre-surgical and post-surgical veterinary medical and nursing care for animals in such research.

  • State Animal Cruelty Laws - ASPCA

    Most animal cruelty laws vary from state to state. Knowing your state's laws is crucial to help fight animal cruelty. The ASPCA offers an online database with more than 550 animal cruelty laws, and their penalties, from all 50 states.

  • US Library of Pet Law

    Online library of selected pet, dog, cat and animal laws. If you are in any doubt abouta law, please contact your attorney, we are not in the business of practicing law and offer these articles to you only as a reference source, they are not to take the place of competent legal advice.

Animal and Wildlife Law - Europe

  • Animal Protection Act - Swedish Code of Statues

    This Act applies to the care and treatment of domestic animals. It also applies to other animals if they are kept in captivity.

  • Eurogroup for Animals

    Eurogroup for Animals represents a united voice for animal welfare organisations in Europe. For more than 25 years, we have been working to improve the way animals are treated and kept throughout the European Union. The long-standing relationship we have established with the EU institutions allows us to be recognised as a credible partner for all the policy issues that affect animals. Our objective is a Europe that cares for all animals.

  • European Commission - Animal Health and Welfare

    The Council of the European Union adopted a Regulation on 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport, which helps to safeguard animal welfare by radically improving the enforcement of animal transport rules in the EU.

  • European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals

    By pet animal is meant any animal kept or intended to be kept by man in particular in his household for private enjoyment and companionship.

  • UK Animal Welfare Act 2006

    It is the first overhaul of pet law since the Protection of Animals Act 1911, which it largely replaced.

Animal and Wildlife Law - International

  • ALAW - Association of Lawyers for Animal Welfare

    ALAW wants to see a world where there are comprehensive and effective laws to protect animals from the deliberate infliction of pain and distress on them by people, and where the laws are properly enforced.

  • Animal Cruelty Legislation - Canada

    Across Canada, provincial legislation protects animals from cruelty. These laws usually fall under the auspices of local humane societies. At the national level, animals are protected from cruelty under Sections 444-447 of the Criminal Code.

  • Canada Species at Risk Act (SARA)

    The Species at Risk Act (SARA) was created to protect wildlife species from becoming extinct in two ways: by providing for the recovery of species at risk due to human activity; and by ensuring through sound management that species of special concern don’t become endangered or threatened. The Act became law in June 2003. It includes prohibitions against killing, harming, harassing, capturing or taking species at risk, and against destroying their critical habitats.

  • International Animal Law - Animals and the Law

    "What IS Animal Law?" Founder and Director of International Animal Law, Dr Ian Robertson, says that initial reactions range from "animal rights, and dog bites" to "any law involving animals".

  • International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

    The International Fund for Animal Welfare works to improve animal welfare, prevent animal cruelty and abuse, protect wildlife and provide animal rescue around the world. From stopping the elephant ivory trade, to ending the Canadian seal hunt and saving the whales from extinction, IFAW works to create solutions that benefit both animals and people.

  • World Animal Net (WAN)

    World Animal Net (WAN) was established in 1997 by veterans of the international animal protection movement to improve communication and co-ordination between the world's animal protection groups on targetcampaigns, using rapidly developing communication technology. Our aim is to focus the animal protection movement and strengthen the impact of key animal campaigns and lobbying. World Animal Net will act as clearinghouse for important animal protection issues with global perspective. The WAN network will give animal groups world-wide the opportunity to work in a genuine spirit of collaboration, pooling knowledge, expertise, professionalism, and campaign and lobbying resources--particularly on target issues

Organizations Related to Animal and Wildlife Law

  • American Humane Association

    Founded in 1877, the American Humane Association is the only national organization dedicated to protecting both children and animals.

  • Animal Alliance of Canada

    Animal Alliance of Canada is committed to the protection of all animals and the promotion of a harmonious relationship among people, animals and the environment. Animal Alliance of Canada brings together dedicated professionals with proven records in animal protection. Together we work on local, national, and international educational and legislative advocacy initiatives to protect animals and our environment.

  • Animal Concerns Community

    Animal Concerns is the online community for people concerned about the welfare and rights of animals. As a project of the EnviroLink Network, it is maintained by EnviroLink volunteers around the world.

  • Animal Legal Defense Fund

    For more than a quarter-century, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has been fighting to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. Founded in 1979 by attorneys active in shaping the emerging field of animal law, ALDF has blazed the trail for stronger enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and more humane treatment of animals in every corner of American life.

  • Animal Rights - The Abolitionist Approach

    The mission of the Abolitionist Approach is to provide a clear statement of a nonviolent approach to animal rights that (1) requires the abolition of animal exploitation; (2) is based only on sentience and no other cognitive characteristic, and (3) regards veganism as the moral baseline of the abolitionist approach.

  • Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC)

    The Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) is mandated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to provide information for improved animal care and use in research, testing, teaching, and exhibition.

  • Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS)

    The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies is the national voice of humane societies and SPCAs. We bring together those who work with, and care for animals to promote respect and humane treatment toward all animals.

  • Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine (DLRM)

    DLRM's objective is for the immediate and total abolition of all animal experiments, on medical and scientific grounds. Animal based research cannot be extrapolated to humans because of species differences and is therefore misleading and counterproductive.

  • Humane Society International (HSI)

    HSI works with national and jurisdictional governments, humane organizations, and individual animal protectionists in countries around the world to find practical, culturally sensitive, and long-term solutions to common animal issues, and to share an ethic of respect and compassion for all life.

  • Humane Society of the United States

    The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization—backed by 10 million Americans, or one in every 30. Established in 1954, The HSUS seeks a humane and sustainable world for all animals—a world that will also benefit people. We are America's mainstream force against cruelty, exploitation and neglect, as well as the most trusted voice extolling the human-animal bond.

  • International Institute for Animal Law

    The International Institute for Animal Law has been established to encourage, at the international level, the development of legal scholarship and advocacy skills on behalf of animals. A not-for-profit organization composed of a renowned and experienced group of attorneys and judges from around the world, the Institute is dedicated to creating and supporting programs that will enhance the development of laws that protect animals.

  • International Society for Animal Rights (ISAR)

    ISAR was the first organization in the United States (and probably the world) to use in its corporate name the moral principle of “animal rights.” The first federal and the first state court legal decisions to invoke the moral principle “animal rights” were in cases brought by International Society for Animal Rights.

  • National Anti-Vivisection Society

    NAVS promotes greater compassion, respect and justice for animals through educational programs based on respected ethical and scientific theory and supported by extensive documentation of the cruelty and waste of vivisection.

  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)

    The RSPCA as a charity will, by all lawful means, prevent cruelty, promote kindness to and alleviate suffering of animals.

  • World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)

    WSPA’s vision is of a world where animal welfare matters, and animal cruelty ends. WSPA has been promoting animal welfare for more than 25 years. Our work is concentrated in regions of the world where few, if any, measures exist to protect animals.

Publications Related to Animal and Wildlife Law

  • Animal Law Review

    Animal Law Review (Animal Law) is a student-run law review at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. The review's objective is to educate readers about all sides of current animal-related legal issues.

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