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Animal Law: Primary Sources

SCOTUS precedent

Supreme Court Precedent 

Westlaw and Lexis are both helpful resources for narrowing case law by jurisdiction. I've ordered the case law from most recent to most dated. Citations are from Westlaw. 

United States v. Stevens

In 2010, the Supreme Court held that a state law criminalizing depicitons of animal cruelty was a violation of the first amendment.

Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah

In 1993, the Supreme Court held that ordinances prohibiting the ritual sacrifices of animals was a violation of the free exercise clause of the first amendment. 


State Caselaw

[Source: Animal Law Resource Center] Searching new and relevant animal cruelty case decisions is easy using the selection tools on this website, and it's a free resource. The main facts, holding, and procedural posture are available on this site along with the citation so you can read the case in full on Westlaw, Lexis, etc. Citations here are from Westlaw.

1. State of Oregon v. Nix251 Or.App. 449 (2011): Each of the 20 animals was a victim for purposes of the animal neglect statute and statute providing for multiple convictions from a single criminal act involving multiple victims.

2. State v. Criswell370 Mont. 511 (2013): Defendants that subjected multiple cats to terrible living conditions conviction of animal cruelty upheld and the closing statements of a prosecutor that mentioned the fradulent description of their residence as a "rescue" to solicit donations from the public and descriptions of the living conditions were not grounds for a mistrial.

3. State of Missouri v. Roberts8 S.W.3d 124 (1999): The jury returned a guilty verdict for felony animal abuse, and the defendant was convicted of misdemeanor animal abuse. The appeals court held that there was sufficient evidence that defendant purposefully both tortured and mutilated his dog to support conviction for felony animal abuse. 

4. People v. Rogers184 Misc.2d 419 (2000): The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was justified in executing a warrantless search on the premises of a pet store suspected of abusing/neglecting animals under the emergency doctrine and there was sufficient evidence to uphold a criminal conviction.

5. Mejia v. State681 S.W.2d 88 (1984): State statute prohibiting animal fighting was not constitutionally vague. 

State Statutes

Animal Cruelty is a criminal offense that varies state by state. The following are statutes from states with differing animal cruelty laws. The statutes vary in depth, detail, breadth, etc. and provide a good sampling of state animal cruelty provisions. Citations from Westlaw. 

1. Oregon: 

    Aggravated Animal Abuse: O.R.S. § 167.322

    Animal Abuse in the 1st degree: O.R.S. § 167.320

    Animal Abuse in the 2nd degree: O.R.S. § 167.315

2. California:

   Cruelty to Animals: West's Ann.Cal.Penal Code § 597

3. Texas:

   Cruelty to Livestock Animals: V.T.C.A., Penal Code § 42.09

   Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals: V.T.C.A., Penal Code § 42.092

4. Missouri:

Animal Abuse-Penalties: V.A.M.S. 578.012.

5. Louisana: 

  Cruelty to Animals: Simple and Aggravated: LSA-R.S. 14:102.1

  Definitions-Cruelty to Animals:  LSA-R.S. 14:102

Citations are from Westlaw.

The American Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty has compiled a state-by-state search of animal cruelty statutes and other animal laws that links to the University of Michigan's Animal Legal & Historical Center's guide to animal laws. I have linked to Florida statute page as an example, but you can choose any state from the drop-down menu on the ASPCA's page.