Animal Welfare




Laws governing the treatment of animals in the United States began to emerge, mostly at the state level, in the mid to late 1800’s. New York’s law, passed in 1867 and spearheaded by the state organization of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, became a template followed by other states into the next century. Even today, the majority of animal cruelty laws are enacted and offenses prosecuted on the state level. The laws, while similar, have many significant differences which necessitates a close reading of the state statute. Read the full overview.

Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

Animal Health and Disease Research, 7 U.S.C. §§ 3191-3201
Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2131-2159
Fishery Conservation and Management, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1891
Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-4
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 2901-2912
Horse Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1821-1831
Humane Slaughter Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 1901-1907
Lacey Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 41-48
Lacey Act Amendments, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3371-3378
Marine Mammal Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1361-1423h
Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1431-1445
Protection of Migratory Game and Insectivorous Birds Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 701-719c
Twenty-Eight Hour Law, 49 U.S.C. § 80502
Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1331-1340
Compilation of States’ Farm Animal Confinement Statutes
Compilation of States’ Animal Cruelty Statutes


Animal Welfare Act, 9 C.F.R. §§ 1-4.11

Horse Protection Act Regulations, 9 C.F.R. §§ 11.1-12.10

Twenty-Eight Hour Law Regulations, 9 C.F. R. §§ 89.1-89.5

Humane Slaughter Act Regulations, 9 C.F.R. §§ 313.1-313.90

Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act Regulations, 43 C.F.R. §§ 4700.0-1-4770.5

Importation, Exportation, and Transportation of Wildlife Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 14.1-14.255

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants Regulations, 50 C.F.R.. §§ 17.1-17.108

Marine Mammals Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 18.1-18.129

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 83.1-83.21

Case Law

Case Law Index for Animal Welfare

Center Research Publications

The Veterinary Feed Directive Rules for Veterinarians: A Practical Guide for the Practicing Veterinarian  (Roasa)

Legal Issues in Animal Agriculture: Medication, Identification and Accommodations (E. Rumley)

States’ Farm Animal Confinement Statutes

States’ Animal Cruelty Statutes (Springsteen)

Animal Cruelty Statutes – A State-By-State Analysis (Springsteen)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017

Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

Animal Agriculture

Environmental Issues

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Animal Welfare:

Animals – Animal Rights
International Trade
Livestock and Packers & Stockyards
Veterinary Law

Reference Resources

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Animal Welfare Information Center
Legislative History of the Animal Welfare Act
Farm Animals
Animal Welfare Audits and Certification Programs
Pain and Distress in Farm Animals: Recognition and Assessment
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
Animal Welfare
Animal Welfare: Publications, Forms and Guidance Documents
The Animal Welfare Act: An Overview
Licensing and Registration Under the Animal Welfare Act
The Animal Welfare Act: Research Facility Annual Reports
Animal Welfare Act Inspections


Questions and Answers on Animal Care’s Regulation of Commercial Animal Dealers
Animal Welfare Act
The Animal Welfare Act: Research Facility Annual Reports
Animal Welfare Act: Compliance Inspections
Declawing and Tooth Removal
Horse Protection

Other Federal Resources

Antibiotic Resistance: Federal Agencies Need to Better Focus Efforts to Address Risk to Humans from Antibiotic Use in Animals (GAO-04-490)
Risk to Humans from Antibiotic Use in Animals(GAO-04-490)
Humane Methods of Slaughter Act: Actions Are Needed to Strengthen Enforcement(GAO-10-203)
Livestock Issues Research Unit
Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare(Dept. of Health and Human Services)
Livestock Behavior Research Unit(Agricultural Research Service)
Animal Policy and Regulatory Issues(ERS)
Animal Welfare Issues Compendium: A Collection of 14 Discussion Papers (NAL)
Captive Wildlife Safety Act(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serv.)
Humane Slaughter: Key Facts(Food Safety and Inspection Service, FSIS)
Veterinarian Workforce: Actions Are Needed to Ensure Sufficient Capacity for Protecting Public and Animal Health(GAO-09-178)

International Resources

Gateway to Farm Animal Welfare (FAO)
Animal Production and Health(FAO/IAEA Programme)
Global Livestock Production and Health Atlas(FAO)
Animal Production and Health Division(FAO)
Farm Animal Welfare Committee(UK)
Animal Health(UK Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs)
World Organisation for Animal Health(OIE)


Gaps in US Animal Welfare Law for Laboratory Animals: Perspectives from an Animal Law Attorney (ILAR Journal, Volume 57, Issue 3, May 2016)

How the Animal Welfare Act Harms Animals (Hastings Law Journal, Volume 69, April 2018)

The Animal Welfare Act at Fifty: Problems and Possibilities in Animal Testing Regulation (McGeorge School of Law Scholarly Articles 2016)

California Passes Animal Welfare Law (Dairy Herd Management, November 2018)

State Poultry Processing Regulations (Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network, 2015)

Scientific Assessment of the Welfare of Dry Sows Kept in Individual Accommodations  (Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, 2009)

Additional Resources

National Anti-Vivisection Society

American Veterinary Medical Association

Center for Food Animal Wellbeing (Univ. of Arkansas)

Animal Welfare Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)

Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC)

Animal Welfare Policy Statements (AVMA)

Guidelines for Euthanasia (AVMA)

National Institute for Animal Agriculture

Animal Welfare (Animal Agriculture Alliance)

Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production

International Regulations and Resources (AAALAC)

Animal Legal & Historical Web Center (MI St. U. College of Law)

International Institute for Animal Law

Animal Legal Defense Fund

Animal Law Review

Center for Animal Law Studies (Lewis & Clark Law School)

Center for Animals and Public Policy (Tufts Cummings School of Vet Med)

“Certified Humane Raised and Handled” Classification

United Egg Producers Animal Husbandry Guidelines for U.S. Egg Laying Flocks (2010 Edition)

American Meat Institute Animal Handling and Audit Guidelines

The Cattle Industry’s Guidelines for the Care and Handling of Cattle (Cattlemen’s Beef Assn.)

National Chicken Council Animal Welfare Guidelines and Audit Checklist (2005)

National Dairy “FARM” (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Animal Care Handbook (2013)

Farm Animal Welfare Research Library (Humane Society of the United States)

Animal Welfare, Veterinary Medicine Extension (UC Davis)

“Animal Welfare Approved” Standards

 Recommended Readings and Publications (not freely available electronically):

Craig, J.V. and J.C. Swanson, Review: Welfare Perspectives on Hens Kept for Egg Production, 73 (7) Poultry Science,  921-38 (1994).

Dantzer, R.,Research Perspectives in Farm Animal Welfare: The Concept of Stress, 6 (special suppl. 2) Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics, 86-92 (1993).

Ewbank, R., Farm Animal Welfare: A Historical Overview, 6 (special suppl.1) Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics, 82-86 (1993).

Gonyou, H.W., Animal Welfare: Definitions and Assessment, 6 (special suppl.2) Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics,  37-43 (1993).

Kertz, A.F., Animal Care and Use: An Issue Now and in the Future, 74 (1) Journal of Animal Science, 257-261 (1996).

McGlone, J.J., What Is Animal Welfare? 6 (special suppl.2) Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics,  26-36 (1993).

Mench, J.A., Assessing Animal Welfare: An Overvie, 6 (special suppl.2) Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics  68-75 (1993).

Stricklin, W.R. and J.A. Mench,An International Conference on Farm Animal Welfare: Ethical, Scientific and Technological Perspectives, 6 (special suppl.1) Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics  1-3, (1993).

Wiepkema, P.R., W.G.P. Schouten & P. Koene, Biological Aspects of Animal Welfare: New Perspectives,6 (special suppl.2) Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics  93-103, (1993).