Legal issues with animals occur in several arenas: housing, real estate, health, agriculture and business, to name only a few. Attorneys have only recently begun practices that include animal law, which makes it one of the more exciting fields of law. This website provides information for Committee members, attorneys and members of the public who have an interest in the growing field of animal law.
This Committee was originally conceived by the late Lorraine Power Tharp, past president of the Association, who wanted to highlight the growing field of Animals and the Law and to educate the profession, specifically the membership, about the issues that arise in the law in relation to animals.
The Committee on Animals and the Law is a resource for Members and the Public about non-human, animal related legal matters and associated humane considerations. Among the activities of the group, Committee Members: (a) monitor and provide comment on relevant legislation and policy-making decisions at various levels of government; (b) offer continuing legal education as well as programs for the lay public on animal law; (c) compile and provide information and resources on animal law and other associated humane considerations to the public via access to the NYSBA website and printed materials; (d) respond to requests for information from the public and attorneys related to animal law issues; and (e) encourage law student interest in animal law by various means including sponsoring a legal writing competition for law students.
The Committee ascertains the needs and interests of NYSBA members and their constituents with respect to animal humane-related issues and develops programs to disseminate resource information to address those needs and interests. Where appropriate, the Committee solicits expertise and assistance of NYSBA committees and sections whose Members and Constituents are affected by these humane-related issues.
To maximize effectiveness, the Committee invites participation by professionals in animal health care, animal welfare, wildlife conservation, animal behavior, and other related fields in animal-law and humane-related work, such as veterinarians, biologists, educators, humane law enforcement officers and non-attorney government officials.
Third Revision as of January 27, 2011
Second Revision as of January 6, 2009
First Revision as of June 21, 2007
LEGALease: Animal Law in New York State
LEGALease: Pet Insurance – Frequently Asked Questions
Laws and Paws Newsletters
Laws and Paws is the official publication of NYSBA’s Committee on Animals and the Law. It is published twice each year and is distributed electronically to Committee members; it is available for viewing on the Committee’s webpage. Laws and Paws publishes articles that provide information to practitioners who encounter an animal law issue in their legal practice or who are simply interested in learning about animal law; recent issues have addressed “Pet Trusts” (Winter 2017) and “What Will Happen to Your Pet if You Cannot Care for It” (Summer 2020). It also provides general information on issues relating to animals; the Winter 2019 issue contained an article on the new FAA Rules for the service animals that will now be allowed on commercial air carriers. Laws and Paws regularly has news on Committee activities, such as the Committee’s legislative program; and events, such as the Committee’s CLE programs. Winning entries in the Student Writing Competition sponsored by the Committee on Animals and the Law are published in Laws and Paws.
Additional Legislative Content
Awards and Student Writing Competition
Acknowledgement of Exemplary Service to the Committee
2018: James F. Gesualdi
2019: Barbara J. Ahern
2020: Stacey Tranchina
2021: Amy M. Pontillo
The Committee on Animals and the Law has a variety of educational programs available.
Click on the links below for more information on these programs!
This program can help educators meet the requirements of New York State Education Law §809. The Humane Education program we have developed is for children in grades K-6.
LUNCH AND LEARN WEBINARS (no cost)
RECORDED NYSBA CLE PROGRAMS (earn New York MCLE credit by purchasing these programs)
• People v Aaron J. Brinkley (2019 NY Slip Op 05728)
Decided on June 7, 2019 – Appellate Division, Third Department
• Christopher P. v Kathleen M.B.(2019 NY Slip Op 05894)
Decided on July 31, 2019 – Appellate Division, Fourth Department
• Animal Law Evidence
(page 7 from CasePrepPlus – final issue, 8-9-19)
• Almodovar v New York City Housing Authority (2019 NY Slip Op 08129)
Decided on November 12, 2019 – Appellate Division, First Department
• Modafferi v DiMatteo (2019 NY Slip Op 08342)
Decided on November 15, 2019 – Appellate Division, Fourth Department
Animals in the News
When “Puppy Mill Rescue” Blurs the Line Between Saving and Selling Dogs – Huffington Post, July 14, 2019
Questionable practices inside the high-profile nonprofit National Mill Dog Rescue are not what most people expect “rescuing” to be. Click here to read the article.
States across U.S. are Taking Bold Steps Toward Protecting Animals – National Geographic, July 10, 2019
In state firsts, fur may be banned in California, and New York has moved to ban cat declawing. In a wave of groundbreaking animal welfare legislation, U.S. states have approved or are considering moves to ban the sale of fur, discourage cosmetics testing on animals, and end cat declawing, among other animal-friendly efforts. Click here to read the article.
Human Rights Law, Cooperative and Animal Law – NYSBA CasePrepPlus for April 5, 2019
Update on NYS State Division of Human Rights’ Determination That the Disabled Cooperative Shareholder as Discriminated Against When She Was Prohibited From Keeping a Dog in Her Cooperative Apartment Confirmed by the Court of Appeals, Reversing the Appellate Division. The Court of Appeals, over a two-judge dissent, in a brief memorandum that did not recite the acts, reversed the Appellate Division and confirmed the NYS Division of Human Rights (SDHR) determination that petitioners had discriminated against the disabled complainant, a cooperative shareholder, by prohibiting her from keeping a dog in the cooperative apartment. Click to read the article and the case.
Tedisco to Cuomo: Pardon dog. Troy euthanasia case of Luna prompted outcry, law change – Times Union, December 13, 2018
This article is an update on Luna, a 6-year-old mixed breed facing euthanasia for biting another dog and its owner on Oct. 25. Senator Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to pardon Luna.
Troy to rewrite dangerous-dog law in response to public outcry – Times Union, November 27, 2018
This article reports that a Troy dog, facing mandatory euthanasia as a result of ambiguous wording in a local ordinance that does not correlate with the state’s Agriculture and Market statute, is now awaiting appeal by Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, filed November 21, 2018 in Rensselaer County Court.
House Votes To Strip Wolves Of ESA Protections; Will Senate Follow? – National Parks Traveler, November 19, 2018
This article reports on the impact on grey wolves after the recent passage of House Bill 6784, “Manage our Wolves Act” by the House of Representatives.
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish chicken-killing ritual may continue, New York’s top court ruled – NY Daily News, November 14, 2018
This article reports that the Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit seeking to have the NYPD and city Health Department crack down on the ultra-Orthodox Jewish ritual of killing chickens in advance of Yom Kippur. Read the judicial opinion here.
Environmental Affairs Committee Calls for a Policy and Legislative Review on Captive Lion Breeding for Hunting and Lion Bone Trade – November 12, 2018
This press release indicates that the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs adopted the Report of a two-day colloquium it held on Captive Breeding of Lions for Hunting and Lion Bone Trade, from 21 – 22 August 2018.
Raising the profile of animal law to match the stakes, The Harvard Gazette – November 5, 2018
This article reports that a Harvard Law Professor is teaching a class on wildlife law for the second time in three years.
New Brooklyn shelter to offer to refuge to domestic-violence victims and their pets – NY Post, October 30, 2018
This article reports that a new domestic violence shelter with accommodate 100 people and 30 pets, making it the largest shelter of its kind in the country.
Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States’ complaint with the Federal Trade Commission Regarding Pet Leasing Industry – Global Legal Chronicle, October 29, 2018
This article reports that the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States filed complaint with the Federal Trade Commission urging it to investigate the pet leasing industry for deceptive and unfair business practices
Proposed chicken slaughterhouse draws criticism from local residents – Newsday, October 24, 2018
This article reports that, at a town meeting, Islip residents expressed concern that proposed slaughterhouse will cause environmental problems in the community.
USDA’s enforcement of animal welfare laws plummeted in 2018, agency figures show – Washington post, October 18, 2018
This article reports that the Agriculture Department had issued 39 warnings to breeders, exhibitors and research labs that allegedly violated animal welfare laws in the first three-quarters of fiscal 2018, and it filed and simultaneously settled one complaint.
Cops aren’t entitled to kill dogs during search just because they are unlicensed, 6th Circuit says – ABA Journal, October 16, 2018
This article reports that a federal appeals court ruled that police officers who fatally shot a couple’s dogs during a home search weren’t entitled to kill the animals just because they were unlicensed.
Is Happy the Elephant Lonely? Free Her, the Bronx Zoo Is Urged – New York Times, October 3, 2018
This article reports that an animal rights group is seeking to have Happy — and three other elephants and a handful of chimpanzees — receive the same legal protections as humans.
Animal Law Resources
Animal Law in New York – LegalEase Pamphlet – This pamphlet is presented by the New York State Bar Association Committee on Animals and the Law and is intended as a basic introduction to animal law and animal related issues in New York State for both the public and lawyers alike.
A Guide to the Use of Service Animals in New York State – The New York City Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association have released this guide jointly to help clarify the legal rights and obligations involving the use of service animals in the state. Please note that this guide provides general information only. The information in this guide should not be used or taken as legal advice for a specific situation. For legal advice about your rights or obligations in a particular situation, please speak to a lawyer.
Don’t Forget Fido: Strategies Can Help Ensure Pets Are Taken Care Of – Article from the March / April 2017 issue of the State Bar News (by Cailin Brown).
New York State’s Dangerous Dog Law – Sections 108(24) and 123 of the Agriculture and Markets Law Q & A.
The following materials and links are for informational purposes only. The NYSBA does not support or endorse the content on external and/or hyperlinked websites and is not responsible for the accuracy or reliability of such content or information.
A Guide to Reporting Suspected Animal Cruelty or Neglect in New York State (English version. Click here for the Spanish version.) This guide, written by the New York City Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee, provides information on Reporting Suspected Animal Cruelty and Neglect in New York State: Why It’s Important and Who to Contact.
American Humane Association – Founded in 1877, the American Humane Association is dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Resources include animal law and cases by state, humane education laws by state, breed specific legislation, military pets, foster-care agreement, pets in domestic violence/protective order laws, foreclosure and pets tips, and laws on pet trusts.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) – Animal cruelty resources, including information about puppy mills, equine cruelty, farm animals, and exotic pets.
American Veterinary Medical Association – Provides links to a variety of issues, such as animal welfare issues, disaster preparedness, veterinary medical ethics, journals, public health, animal health.
Animal Legal Defense Fund – Resources include laws & cases and law professional & law student resources.
Animal Welfare Act – Official USDA website for information regarding the Animal Welfare Act and to provide information for improved animal care and use in research, testing, teaching, and exhibition.
Animal Welfare Institute – AWI founded in 1951 to alleviate the suffering inflicted on animals by people. Web site includes government/legal affairs, issues, research library for animals in laboratories, in the wild, and in the oceans.
Association of Zoos & Aquariums – AZA is an organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Resources include Legislative Education Center.
Center for Animal Law Studies – CALS Lewis & Clark Law School, Animal Law Program – Animal Law Review, links to publications and lectures, news, Legal Resources, and Student Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Center for Wildlife Ethics – The Center for Wildlife Ethics (CWE) is a public interest organization that protects wild animals from exploitative agendas.
Farm Sanctuary – Works to end cruelty to farm animals through rescue, education, and advocacy. Web site includes links to farm animal shelters, proposed legislation & public policy, federal & state litigation.
The Humane Society of the United States – The website provides links to both federal and state legislative activities and laws.
Institute for Humane Education – Programs and resource center for educators, with links to animal and human rights organizations. Includes resources for Animal Protection Activities- Animal protection humane education activities feature lesson plans & activities.
International Animal-Law – International Animal-Law© is an organization committed to improving animal and human welfare. Web site provides international news regarding animal rights/welfare, list of courses and conferences, and links to international animal rights/welfare organizations.
International Society for Animal Rights – ISAR providing legal information and analysis for the animal rights movement. Resources include links to cases, articles, reports and ISAR’s amicus briefs.
Michigan State University Animal Legal and Historical Center – A comprehensive repository of information about animal law, including: over 1200 full text cases (US, historical, and UK), over 1400 US statutes, over 60 topics and comprehensive explanations, legal articles on a variety of animal topics and an international collection.
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets – New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets website.
University of Wisconsin Law Library – Provides links to animal law sites including agencies/organizations, legal topics, and journals.