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
The work of the committee is accomplished through its subcommittees:
Education Subcommittee – The Education Subcommittee plans and presents educational programs for Committee members, members of the NYS Bar Association, and the general public, including CLE programs for attorneys on issues related to animals and the laws that protect them, and programs for the general public on the laws that protect animals from abuse and cruelty.
Legislation Subcommittee – The Legislation Subcommittee monitors and reviews bills pending in the New York State legislature that relate to animals, and drafts Memoranda of Support or Opposition for bills. Memos are reviewed by the full Committee and if approved, are circulated by the NYS Bar Association on behalf of the Committee. This subcommittee can also propose new legislation relating to animals through the NYSBA affirmative legislation program.
Publications Subcommittee – The Publications Subcommittee publishes the official Committee publication, Laws and Paws, an online publication issued twice yearly and available online to Committee members and NYSBA members on the Committee’s webpage. The Publications Subcommittee also annually updates the NYSBA LEGALease pamphlet, Animal Law in New York State, a summary compilation of NYS laws relating to animals designed for both attorneys and non-attorneys, and available to the public on the NYSBA website.
Special Projects Subcommittee – The Special Projects Subcommittee works on projects that fall outside the work covered by the other subcommittees. Recent special projects have involved an examination of pet insurance and development of the LEGALease pamphlet, Pet Insurance – Frequently Asked Questions; and a compilation of the federal and state laws that apply to animals coming into the U.S. from Ukraine, available on the Committee webpage.
Student Writing Competition Subcommittee – The Student Writing Competition Subcommittee oversees the Annual Animal Law Writing Competition, open to students in J.D., L.L.M., Ph.D., and S.J.D. programs in any U.S. law school; reviews annual submissions from students and determines first-place, second-place and third-place winners of the competition, whose articles are published in Laws and Paws and can be viewed on the Committee’s webpage.
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.
Requirements For Pets Entering the US and NYS from Ukraine; Prepared by the Committee on Animals and the Law, Ukraine Pets Project (PDF)
Additional Legislative Content
Awards and Student Writing Competition
Acknowledgement of Exemplary Service to the Committee
Since 2018, the Committee has annually recognized one of its members who has demonstrated a consistent commitment to go “above and beyond” expectations to support the Committee’s mission. In addition to this dedication to the goals of the committee, the individual must have been a member of the Committee on Animals and the Law for five years or longer, and must have held an office or leadership position on the Committee in that time.
The following members have been honored for their exemplary service to the Committee:
2018: James F. Gesualdi
2019: Barbara J. Ahern
2020: Stacey Tranchina
2021: Amy M. Pontillo
2022: Ashlee K. Cartwright
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)
Animals in the News
- December 1, 2022 – Amy Molloy Bogardus, “What Lawyers Can Do When Pet Abuse and Domestic Violence Intersect”
- August 2, 2022 – Jennifer Andrus, “NYSBA Volunteers Help Ukrainian Refugees Emigrate with their Pets”
- September 20, 2021 – Stacey Tranchina, “With All Due Respect, Your Honor, We Don’t Want To Equitably Divide the Family Pets”
Animal Law Resources
Requirements for Pets Entering the US and NYS from Ukraine – We researched and compiled these federal and New York State regulations and documents to aid Ukrainian war refugees entering the US with their pets. If the requirements are not met, pets may be quarantined for a month or refused entry entirely.
Pets in Ukraine Lunch and Learn
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.
Pet Insurance – Frequently Asked Questions – LEGALease Pamphlet– This publication was researched and written by the Special Projects Subcommittee of the NYSBA Committee on Animals and the Law to provide consumers with information they need when they are considering whether they should purchase a policy of pet insurance for the veterinary medical care needed by their pet.
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.
"*" indicates required fields