Animal Law

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What is Animal Law?

Animal law is a combination of statutory and case law in which the nature - legal, social or biological - of nonhuman animals is an important factor. Animal law encompasses companion animals, wildlife, animals used in entertainment and animals raised for food and used in research. Animal law permeates and affects most traditional areas of the law - including tort, contract, criminal and constitutional law.

Examples of this intersection include:

  • Animal custody disputes in divorce or separations.
  • Veterinary malpractice cases.
  • Housing disputes involving "no pets" policies and discrimination laws.
  • Damages cases involving the wrongful death or injury to a companion animal.
  • Enforceable trusts for companion animals being adopted by states across the country.
  • Criminal law encompassing domestic violence and anti-cruelty laws.

Currently, animal law is being taught at some of the most reputable and respected law schools in the country - including highly ranked schools such as Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Northwestern, University of Michigan and Duke.

Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Law Program (2010), at

Triangle-Area Animal Law Resources include:

UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106
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