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.

Mission Statement

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.

Online Community

Committee Roster

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.

2024 Spring Edition

2023 Fall/Winter Edition

2022 Winter Edition

2022 Summer Edition

2021 Fall Edition

2021 Winter Edition

2020 Summer Edition

2019 Winter Edition

2018 Winter Edition

2018 Fall Edition

2017 Winter Edition

2017 Spring Edition

2016 Winter Edition

2012 Fall Edition

2011 Spring Edition

2009 Fall Edition

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
2023: Charis Nick-Torok
2024: Fiona Farrell

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