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An Introduction to Animal Law

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This is a guest post by Ashley Sundin who was an intern with the Law Library’s Public Services Division this summer.

Animal law is a rapidly growing area of law, especially in the past decade.  The human-animal interaction comes in a variety of forms including companionship, agriculture, and science.  As a result, animal law extends into many areas of law including criminal, torts, property, and constitutional law.

This guide will provide an overview of the resources available covering animal law, wildlife law, and animal rights and welfare.

Whoopie and Englehurst Gillette two of the White House dogs with Robert R. Robinson (March 29, 1929). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,
Whoopie and Englehurst Gillette two of the White House dogs with Robert R. Robinson (March 29, 1929). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,


For Beginners



The materials in this section explore animal law career options for those considering a career in animal law and provide litigation strategies for those currently working in this area of practice.

Foreign & International

State & Federal Law

You will find laws at the federal, state, and local levels that relate to animal law.  You can directly search for federal and state laws by consulting the United States Code and your local state statutory code.  Be sure to also take into consideration your local laws by consulting municipal codes. The Animal Legal Defense Fund site contains a finding aid that may prove helpful to locating legislation.


The following sites compile notable cases in the area of animal law.  You can also locate cases related to animal law using free sources on the web such as Google Scholar.  Alternatively, you can visit your local law library for access to subscription legal research databases such as Westlaw and LexisNexis.


Subject Headings

You can also search the Library of Congress catalog by browsing subject headings for books on this topic. Click “browse” and use the drop-down to select “SUBJECTS beginning with” or “SUBJECTS containing,” and then input a subject heading using one of the examples shown below. Finally, click on a result and you can browse the materials classified under that subject heading.  Here are a few examples of possible subject headings:

  • Animals–Law and legislation–United States
  • Animals–Law and legislation–[Country]
  • Animals–Law and legislation–[State]
  • Animals–Law and legislation–United States–Cases
  • Animal welfare–Law and legislation–United States
  • Animal rights–United States
  • Dogs–Law and Legislation–[Country]
  • Dogs–Law and Legislation–[State]

Online Resources

Update on September 24, 2014:  The post was updated to include a link to publications by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

Comments (2)

  1. Hi Robert and Ashley,

    Thanks for including my book on this list! Any chance you could add my amazing co-author, Melissa Serfass from UALR? She definitely deserves credit for authoring this with me!!!


    • Hi Stefanie,
      Thanks for reading the blog! I just added Melissa Serfass as a co-author.

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