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Animal Law Guide: Home


Introduction to Animal Law

Animal law refers to the legal rules governing human interactions with nonhuman animals.  The core concern of animal law is animal protection exemplified in anti-cruelty statutes and endangered species legislation.  Animal protection laws affect a wide range of activities including: domestic animal ownership, fish and livestock farming and meatpacking, hunting and fishing, wildlife management, veterinary practice, scientific experimentation, animal sacrifice, and sports and entertainment such as circuses, rodeos and horse races. 

Animal law also encompasses matters beyond the scope of traditional animal protection.  These include laws and regulations concerning the health and safety of foods and drugs derived from animals, the control of dangerous animals, animal populations and animal diseases, as well as estate planning for the care of animals after the death of their owners.  Animal protection advocates are often divided into two groups: animal welfare advocates and animal rights advocates.  Animal welfare advocates recognize human ownership and the humane use of animals as legitimate.  Animal rights advocates seek an end to the treatment of animals as property.

This guide includes primary and secondary source materials available in print and online at the Law Library and the Falvey Library.

Subject Guide