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Animal Law 101

Animals are and have always been an intricate part of nature and our planet. The relationship of wild animals with the rest of Earth’s ecosystems is what makes life on the planet possible for all living things. Just like there are rules and laws for humans that make the world a safer and more organized place, there are laws created to protect animals and regulate the way they are treated.

Animal law addresses issues such as mistreatment of animals, laboratory research on animals, and conservation of endangered species. Most of the laws are carried out on the state level, but additional laws are carried out by the federal government.

Laws that operate on the federal level include: 

  • The Animal Welfare Act: One of the oldest animal protection laws, this regulation protects animals in zoos, laboratories, and breeding mills from exploitative and abusive handling.

  • The “28-Hour Law”: This law deals with animal transportation over long distances. It requires that animals get a rest for water, food, and exercise every 28 hours of travel.

  • The Humane Slaughter Act: This act covers the legal side of the slaughter of animals. It protects all slaughter animals besides chickens, turkeys, and other birds from being slaughtered before being stunned. This is done so the animals do not feel pain during slaughter.

  • Endangered Species Act: This act protects populations of endangered animal or plant species.

  • PACT (Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture) Act: The PACT Act forbids animal practices like burning, drowning, suffocating, crushing, or any other type of exploitation of animals.


Several other laws concern animals on the state and local levels. These are enforced only within the state or location where they operate. These measures pertain mostly to companion animals and wildlife. Animals raised as pets have similar rights as humans regarding protection from violence and neglect. Pets left in cars during hot weather or those staying outside on a leash for too long in hot temperatures are also subject to protection by law enforcement.

Other state regulations are aimed at protecting wildlife by controlling how wildlife can be hunted. Laws also address the treatment of animals that perform in circuses. Some states have passed laws prohibiting the use of elephants for entertainment, for instance.

Animal law has grown drastically in the decades since this field’s inception. The growth of the legal side of animal protection has included the development of new animal law curricula, the increase in awareness of animal law, and the growth of animal-defense committees.

One organization for the protection of animals, known as the Animal Legal Defense Fund, was created in 1979 for the support of animal protection. The work of the defense fund includes expanding animal laws, providing legal assistance to prosecutors on behalf of animals, strengthening anti-cruelty policies, making sure that the rules are upheld, providing education, and ensuring the future of animal laws.

Today, in most nations’ laws, animals are considered things, unlike humans. As human understanding of animals increases, it’s certain that animals are sentient beings who have feelings and suffer from abuse and cruelty. Animal law can ensure that animals are treated fairly. This emphasis hinges on the understanding that animals are individuals just like humans who are an important part of nature and should be treated with respect.

While animal laws are growing and expanding, there is always more that can be contributed to the cause. An act as simple as spreading the word and raising awareness of animal rights issues can help contribute to the welfare of animals. There are also plenty of programs and causes that can be joined in support of animal protection in different parts of the country.

Animal Protection & Rescue League

APRL is a grassroots 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in San Diego, California. Since forming in 2003, APRL has garnered national and international media attention, influenced animal protection legislation, conducted numerous rescues of abused factory farmed animals and educated tens of thousands of people about humane eating.

Compassion Over Killing

Compassion Over Killing (COK) is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) animal advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC, with an additional office in Los Angeles, CA. Working to end animal abuse since 1995, COK focuses on cruelty to animals in agriculture and promotes vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world for all of us, both human and nonhuman.

Since 1995, COK has served as an unwavering force bringing about positive changes for animals and thanks to our many generous supporters, we’ve come a long way in our short history: starting as an all-volunteer high school club and evolving into a national voice for animals.

Despite our small staff and limited budget, COK’s innovative, cost-effective campaigns are having a tremendous impact.

Better Eating International is a new 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that seeks to inspire compassion for all animals through inclusive and empowering vegan education. Our efforts to change how people eat play an important part in a worldwide movement to create a future in which animals are valued as unique individuals and no longer exploited for human gain.

We have a goal to see every internet-using member of the current teenage generation exposed to the realities of animal agriculture by the time they turn 25 -- with many of them becoming vegans, and all of them gaining a firm understanding of why they should be.

To do this, we plan to reach tens of millions of people each year with the same quality and depth of messaging that our movement has thus far only been able to offer on a small scale.

To create such an experience, we will develop a stockpile of hundreds of 30-second animated PSA’s that cover the various why’s and how’s of veganism.

Our videos will string together to persuasively convey our message with consideration toward age, gender, income, location, education, and other characteristics.

"For over 150 years, the ASPCA has worked tirelessly to put an end to animal abuse and neglect. We are a national leader in the areas of rescue, adoption and welfare, and your tax-deductible donation will help fight cruelty and make a life-changing difference for animals across America. Thank you for making the ASPCA and the animals we serve a part of your life."

LoveLand Farm Sanctuary

Loveland Farm Sanctuary is a sanctuary in the making, working to build a rescue center for abused and neglected farm animals.


Our Mission

The vision for Loveland Farm Sanctuary – a sanctuary in the making - is to become a safe haven for rescued farm animals that have endured a life of cruelty and abuse. By introducing these curious creatures to a world that consumes them on a daily basis, but knows little about them, we’re looking to provide additional context to members of the Orange County community (and surrounding areas) who most likely have had limited exposure to the animals they may eat. Caretakers at the sanctuary will lead each tour, practicing love and compassion when handling the residents of LFS. Our goal is that visitors will arrive at our sanctuary and leave transformed, simply through the exposure that they’ll get from time spent with our animals.

Loveland Farm Sanctuary is a sanctuary in We at Loveland Farm Sanctuary stand with global leaders and academics who have made it apparent, through their data and research, that the current approach to self-preservation, health and environmental reform needs a complete overhaul. We believe firmly in the solution that they have provided of adopting a vegan diet, and recognize that it complements the desire for social reform where the well being of farm animals are concerned.

At LFS, we look to go further than the individual contribution of adopting a vegan diet; our goal is to empower members of the community to foster this approach for themselves, as well as to provide businesses with the tools they need to extend their learning beyond LFS out into their own communities. Our three-tiered solution is comprised of:

  • Educational opportunities on vegan living for the public

  • Training opportunities on building a business for vegan-based start-ups

  • Investment opportunities in vegan-based start ups for funders


Our mission is to answer the immediate call for action by being the first farm sanctuary in Orange County, offering a hands-on, interactive learning experience to the community, businesses and investors.

In Defense of Animals

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (October 13, 2017) – In Defense of Animals is overjoyed that California Governor Jerry Brown has signed the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act into law. From January 1, 2019, it will become a criminal offense for California pet stores to sell dogs, cats, and rabbits unless they come from a shelter or rescue. In Defense of Animals last week delivered hundreds of letters urging Governor Jerry Brown to sign AB 485 into law. It is the first statewide animal protection law of its kind.

“The Pet Rescue and Adoption Act is one of the most significant laws passed in the United States to date, and we are overjoyed that Jerry Brown has made this dream a reality,” said In Defense of Animals President, Marilyn Kroplick M.D.

“This important law will spare tens of thousands of animal who are killed every year in shelters due to a lack of space and available homes. It is a death-blow to puppy-mills and backyard breeders which for years have lined their pockets through large-scale animal suffering. A vicious cycle has been broken and animals will now get the loving adoptive homes they deserve. We are extremely grateful to California senators, Governor Jerry Brown, and to In Defense of Animals supporters who urged action.”

33 cities and counties in California already have local bans on the retail sale of puppy-mill dogs and cats in local pet stores. From 2019, dogs, cats, and rabbits across California will arrive at retail outlets vaccinated and sterilized, thereby preventing yet more suffering through disease and overpopulation.

This is a major victory for animals, and also for California taxpayers since it will alleviate pressure on county budgets. California taxpayers currently contribute $250 million each year to support city and county animal shelters, while puppy-mills have continuously bred animals for profit.

Shelter Helper Charity

Every single day there are animals being euthanized at “Animal Control” centers. Approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats are killed every year because shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes.  In our opinion that is not controlling the situation. When a lost or abandoned animal is caught by animal control and brought to a kill shelter their days are now numbered. Ending a life, even if in a non-violent way, is not the answer. Kill shelters should be reallocating their funds towards keeping the animals alive, education, marketing, spade and neutering animals. The problem is; there just is not enough money to make this possible. That is why Shelter Helper Charity exists!


We at Shelter Helper, raise funds to help save animals by marketing the no kill shelters of Orange County and the animals living there while helping to provide a better living situation for the animals at the shelters. Our goal is to bring awareness of what is going on at kill shelters and help as many animals as we can get from a kill shelter to a no kill shelter and then finally into the arms of a loving family. This is not an easy task and all the help we can get brings us closer to our goal!

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