Animal Law

This guide briefly discusses issues related to animal law and most references are to materials for Washington State.  Visit either of the following web sites for definitions of the terms used here:

Background Information Sources:

When you start your research, it may be helpful to look at some general background information.  The following sources are great tools that are available online.

Animal Law:  A Selective Bibliography and Research Guide, Gonzaga University School of Law Library (March 2020).  Provides an overview of animal law and includes references to animal law related federal agencies, federal laws and regulations, significant cases, Washington State codes, as well as other selected sources.  Contains many Washington State references.

Animal Law, Georgetown University Law Center (Oct. 2020).  Provides references to several animal law books, journals, websites, laws and legislation, research guides, and current awareness issues.  Does not contain Washington State specific references, but is useful to acquaint user with animal law.

Primary Law Sources:

After gathering some background information, you may want to examine Washington State law and your local law. The Revised Code of Washington, the Washington Administrative Code, the King County Code, and the Seattle Municipal Code are available online or in print at the Law Library. An online website for other Washington State County Codes and City Codes is also listed below.

Revised Code of Washington
Washington Administrative Code
King County Code
Seattle Municipal Code

Secondary Law Sources:

Next, you may want to look at the animal law print sources that are available in the King County Law Library.  The first five sources listed below are Washington State Continuing Legal Education materials that pertain specifically to Washington State animal law.  The last two sources are legal guides that discuss animal law as it relates to several states.

  • Annual Animal Law Conference  Continuing legal education materials from annual animal law seminar co-sponsored by Washington State Bar Association Continuing Legal Education and the WSBA Animal Law Section.  We typically keep the last seven years of these materials.  Topics vary by year.   Shelved at KF 390.5 .A5 A56.
  • Cora Jordan, Neighbor Law:  Fences, Trees, Boundaries, and Noise, shelved at KF 639 .Z9 J67.  Chapter 17 discusses common neighbor disputes, including animal problems.  Specifically, it addresses noise, leash laws, pooper-scooper laws, number of animals, types of animals, and licenses and special permits.
  • Mary Randolph, Every Dog’s Legal Guide:  A Must-Have Book for Your Owner shelved at KF 390.5 .D6 E94.
  • Joan Schaffner and Julie Fershtman, eds. Litigating Animal Law Disputes:  A Complete Guide for Lawyers.  (ABA 2009), shelved at KF 390.5 .A5 L58 2009.  Among the topics covered are negligence and tort law, veterinary malpractice, animal-related contract and sales disputes, animal insurance litigation, criminal law issues, expert witnesses, and practical concerns for attorneys handling animal law cases.
  • Joan Schaffner, ed. A Lawyer’s Guide to Dangerous Dog Issues. (ABA 2009), shelved at KF 390.5.D6 L39 2009.

Helpful Information on the Internet:

The internet sources listed below may help you find and further understand animal law in Washington State and in other states.

Washington State Bar Association, Animal Law Section.  This website provides the goals of the animal law section of the Washington State Bar Association and provides contact information for the section chair.

International Institute for Animal Law.  This website allows you to search for federal or state laws or legislation.  You can limit your search by selecting any of the listed categories or by entering specific key words.  You can also search for specific legislation by bill number and for specific laws by citation.  This site is a great source for accessing and comparing laws and legislation from several states.  

Michigan State University College of Law: Animal Legal and Historical Web Center. This website allows you to search for both federal and state laws and cases by jurisdiction, subject, or species.  You can also search for information by topic.  A topic search will provide you with a brief overview of the topic and may also provide you with a chart of all state laws that pertain to that topic.  Treaties and animal law for select countries is also available.  This is a great comprehensive site that allows you several search options to find the information you are looking for.

Contact Information:

If you have any questions about animal welfare in general, you may want to contact the following organizations:

Humane Society for Seattle/King County. The Humane Society for Seattle/King County is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing people and pets together. This organization offers many services including workshops, and community outreach.
The Humane Society for Seattle/King County
13212 SE Eastgate Way
Bellevue, WA 98005-4408
Phone: (425)641-0080
Fax: (425)747-2985

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The ASPCA was established to alleviate animal cruelty. This website lists federal and state legislative actions, provides expert pet care advice, and discusses ways to prevent animal cruelty.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
424 East 92nd Street
New York, NY 10128-6804
Phone: (212) 876-7700

If You Need More Help:

Guide to General Legal Clinics & Resources in King County

Links Updated: October 2020