Enforcing Animal Welfare Statutes: Whose Job is it, Anyway?

 Co-Sponsored by the National Agricultural Law Center and the American Agricultural Law Association

This webinar took place on Thursday, October 10th, 2013.




Authority to enforce animal welfare laws has been delegated to private citizens involved with humane organizations since the 1880’s, when the majority of those statutes were originally passed. Currently, over half of the states and the District of Columbia grant some form of law enforcement power to members or officers of humane societies. The authority ranges from the power to arrest to the ability to seize and destroy private property. In some cases it includes the right to carry a firearm– even, in one state, as a convicted felon– while engaging in law enforcement activities. After a brief history of the statutory scheme, this presentation will discuss the states that delegate authority to private citizens involved in humane societies, the specific authority that is given to these individuals and an overview of liability concerns that may present themselves as a result of the delegation.

First in a series of presentations on varied agricultural law topics, this specific presentation is  designed to be useful to anyone — attorneys, lobbyists, policymakers, extension personnel, producers, and others — with an interest in the enforcement of animal welfare laws in the United  States.

Continuing Legal Education:

While this presentation is designed to be relevant for both attorneys and non-attorneys, it has been approved for 60 minutes of Continuing Legal Education credit in  Arkansas. For attorneys outside the state of Arkansas, the National Agricultural Law Center will happily provide any needed documentation or materials necessary for a non-Arkansas attorney to obtain Continuing Legal Education in their respective state. For any assistance needed in this regard, please contact Rusty Rumley at rrumley@uark.edu.

Link to Webinar Recording




Elizabeth Rumley is a staff attorney at the National Agricultural Law Center, where her primary focus is on legal issues in animal agriculture, and she frequently lectures on those issues and others to audiences nationwide.

At the Center, her primary focus is on legal issues in animal agriculture. Her article A Proposal to Regulate Farm Animal Confinement in the United States and an Overview of Current and Proposed Laws appeared in the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law (14 Drake J. Agric. L. 437 (Fall, 2009)) and she co-wrote an article titled Enforcing Animal Welfare Statutes: In Many States, It’s Still the Wild West, which appeared in the San Joaquin Agricultural Law Review (21 San Joaquin Agric. L. Rev. 21 (2012).

She is an adjunct faculty member in the  University of Arkansas’ Center of  Excellence for Poultry ScienceAnimal  Science Department,  and the Agricultural  Economics and Agribusiness Department.  Further, Mrs. Rumley works closely with and is on the advisory board of the University  of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Center for Food Animal Well-Being.  Additionally, she has co-taught a course titled “Animals and Agricultural Production, Law and Policy” several times at the University of Oklahoma College of Law and most recently at the University of Nebraska College of Law, has developed and teaches a course on legal issues in animal agriculture through the Dale Bumpers College of  Agricultural, Food, & Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas, and teaches a course on agriculture and the environment, also through the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food, & Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas.

She is licensed to practice law in Michigan and Ohio after earning her B.A. from Michigan State University, her J.D. cum laude from the University of Toledo College of Law, and her LL.M. in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.