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Animal Law

What is Animal Law?

Animal law has developed rapidly as a specialized field of study and legal practice in recent years, and the variety of resources related to the subject has increased dramatically.  Animals have been addressed in statutes and case law for decades, but more current legal and social issues have magnified the relevance of animals in society, which in turn has affected the law.



Animals were once viewed primarily as property under the law, but are increasingly recognized as sentient beings worthy of rights and protection. Animal law courses are offered at more law schools, and clinics, societies, bar sections, and committees devoted to animal law issues have evolved. Law reviews and journals have published more articles on animal law related topics as interest in the subject area has grown.

The field of animal law covers a wide range of topics and issues including:

  • abuse and neglect
  • oil spills and global warming
  • circuses and zoos
  • pet food and pet industry
  • cockfighting and dog violence
  • puppy mills and animal trafficking
  • entertainment and media
  • vegans and hunting
  • environmental protection and pollution
  • veterinary medicine and pet insurance
  • factory farming and slaughterhouses
  • whaling and fur trade
  • hoarding and strays
  • wildlife and endangered species
  • laboratory research and animal testing
  • wills and trusts

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