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Great Apes and the Law

Great Apes and the Law

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Welcome to the Animal Legal & Historical Center – Are You Looking to Do Some Research?

This page will help you learn how to navigate some of the more complex areas of our site and is directed at researchers visiting the site. If you are looking for some general guidance on how to find answers to common legal issues or FAQs, please see our Introduction Page.

What we have

The  Web Center contains a collection of thousands of cases, laws, administrative regulations, municipal codes, and scholarly articles. Our laws are updated on an as-needed basis when changes come to our attention as well as a complete annual check of state and federal laws. If you are interested in tracking changes to animal laws over time, see the Amendments/History Page.  Also, if you remember seeing a case on our front page but can’t remember the name, see our Archives Page. While every attempt is made to keep our materials updated, the site does not guarantee their accuracy for citation purposes.

Keep informed

As a researcher of an issue, you may have first arrived at our front page. Here you can find news about recent legislation, current cases, or recently posted scholarly articles. Links to the actual materials are provided. This page is updated monthly.

Browse a Topic Area

We also have a box on the right that contains some of our most recently added “Topic Areas.” Topic areas are collections of information on the site that give both a general summary of the issue along with an in-depth legal analysis. The topic areas are sometimes the best place to start if you are researching a specific topic and need to know where to begin. Topics range from dog issues (like dog bite laws, lost dogs, divorce and pet custody issues) to complex federal laws such as the U.S. Endangered Species Act or the Animal Welfare Act. On the left-hand side, you’ll see a menu that allows you to navigate to these topic areas. Simply go to “Select by Topic” in the left-hand navigation to find the category for your topic (for example “wildlife” for topics involving wild animals or “farm animals” for topics concerning animals kept for food or fiber). This will lead you to a page that gives links to these specific topics. At the topic page, you are brought to a summary of the issues with tabs above that can lead you to more in-depth information. To gain a complete understanding of the topic, you are encouraged to read the “detailed discussion” accessed at the top tab navigation. Detailed discussions provide direct links to the materials cited in the papers. Also, visiting the “Related Materials” tab for a topic will give you access to tables of laws and other related articles.

Check out a map or comparative table of laws

Another more general avenue for research is to visit our Map Page containing U.S. state maps of laws ranging from anti-cruelty laws and exotic pet laws to veterinary practice codes. Clicking on a state on the map takes you directly to those laws. In addition, we’ve recently added comparative tables of laws that give readers “laws at a glance” for certain topics. The state laws are broken down into their main components with links to the actual text of the laws for topics such as strict liability laws for dog bites and commercial dog breeder laws among others. The best way to access these tables is by visiting the front page and seeing the right hand box marked “Maps and Comparative Tables."

Primary legal materials: cases, laws, municipal codes, and administrative materials

In addition to maps and topic areas, you can search directly for primary legal materials by visiting the left-hand navigation that appears on every page. You can search for laws, cases, and now ordinances and pending legislation by state. The laws are the most comprehensive source for state materials. Once you have selected a state, simply scroll down to find a related topic alphabetically on the table of laws.

You can also select laws, cases, ordinances, and bills by subject. This menu allows users to find both state and federal laws and cases related to subjects like exotic pets, dangerous dogs, and endangered species.  Once you scroll down to a topic, you will be led to a table that gives a short summary of the case or law with a link to the primary material.  The same is true when searching for laws and cases by the type of animal. Go to the “select by species” pull-down to access thousands of materials categorized by animals such as wolves, cats, or elephants.

The site has a collection of administrative rules and regulations that you can search for by topic. Find the “Select Administrative Topic” pull-down to find regulations concerning exotic pets, dog breeders, and more.

Scholarly articles

Not only are cases and laws available for research, but readers can access hundreds of scholarly law journal articles and discussions written by editors at the Web Center.  At our main Publications Page, you can find menus to select our entire collection of articles alphabetically by author under “current articles,” or search by topic in the following pull-down. We also maintain a complete collection of the Journal of Animal Law from Michigan State University College of Law and a large collection of volumes from the Animal Law Review based at Lewis & Clark School of Law. In addition, we’ve added two major animal journals from Brazil and Australia together with many articles concerning non-U.S. animal laws.

Animal law from around the world

Those interested in researching non-U.S. animal laws, can do this by selecting the “World Law” pull-down on the left-navigation. Here you will find a robust collection of materials from countries such as Brazil, the UK, Australia, and Canada along with pieces from other nations.

Historical background

Finally, those interested in the historical aspects of animal law, may enjoy perusing our historical collection. A historical overview of the evolution of animal law is provided with links to early laws. 

How it all gets started: pleadings from actual animal law cases

Lawyers and other legal practitioners may find benefit in searching our collection of court documents known as our Pleadings Collection. This page allows readers to find briefs, complaints, and other documents by plaintiff name or by topic. Among our collection includes all the filing in the Ringling Brothers “elephant case” and numerous examples of cases involving damages to pets.

This is just a sampling of all that we have at the Web Center.  If you have an issue for which there is no topic or you just don’t know where to start, we also have a keyword search box at the top, or feel free to contact us so that we can help guide you in your research.