Animal Law

Advocating equality and protection

Feel free to share this Page

The relationship between animals and the law, and particularly the manner in which the law attempts to protect animals from harm by creating criminal sanctions, is a more recent area of interest for me. While I am interested in all aspects of this area of law, my research focuses primarily on three areas.

I believe understanding why our laws fail to protect animals from harm is critical to making a difference in future. Looking at case examples, legislative action and media reports of animal cruelty, I hope to carefully dissect twelve major “stress” points that cause animal protection law to be ineffective. If you’ve ever wondered why so many animal cruelty cases end with such unsatisfying results, this project should interest you.

My latest video

  • Courtroom Therapy Dogs (10mins)
    In this video blog, I take a look at three recent cases which are Canada's first efforts to permit therapy dogs into the courtroom. I then discuss why this is such a great idea, even if the legal reasoning in these cases could be...

News and updates

What the law doesn’t understand: My dog is not a couch Opinion article by Jodi Lazare and Peter Sankoff, The Globe and Mail. March 23, 2018

When couples separate, sorting out who gets to keep the furniture is always complicated. But it’s usually easier than deciding who gets to hold on to the family dog. In the courts however, these two very different questions are treated the same way. ...more

Paw and Order podcasts Canada’s first-ever animal law podcast

In January, in conjunction with Animal Justice, I began a new initiative – the Paw and Order podcast. Recorded with my co-host Camille Labchuk, this bi-weekly podcast explores all sorts of animal law issues, with the goal of shining a light on what’s wrong with animal cruelty in Canada. ...more

New animal welfare book underway...

Why Animal Protection Law Fails to Protect AnimalsThis new project is something I have been working on for the past few years. It has one primary objective: to explain to the Canadian public why our existing animal protection law is a failure. This is no easy task. Our animal cruelty law is complex and at times contradictory.

Animals have legal interests that must be protected Opinion article by Camille Labchuk, Executive Director, Animal Justice, Huffington Post. Nov 2016

Animals got their day in court last week, thanks to Animal Justice. On Monday, November 9, law professor Peter Sankoff and I went to the Supreme Court of Canada to intervene in a groundbreaking appeal. We spoke words that had never before been heard in court: “Animal Justice is here to represent the interests of animals.” ...more

My key focal points

  • Inefficacy

    The inefficacy of the criminal sanction as a manner for protecting animals from harm.

  • Government

    The government’s use of criminal sanctions as a means of avoiding tough questions about how animals should be treated.

  • Remedial

    The lack of any remedial options for animal advocacy groups under a welfare regime.

Key topics

Recent case studies

Recommended links

Animal Justice Canada
Canadian organization of lawyers working on animal issues in Canada. I’m one of them!

Animal Legal Defence Fund
Love their work. Love their philosophy. Love what they’ve done to advance animal law as a discipline in North America.

Animal Legal and Historical Center
Wonderful resource page from Michigan State if you’re looking for legal information or the animal laws governing in a particular jurisdiction.

Farm to Fridge
If you’re not sure why current farming practices are bad for animals, watch this 12 minute video by Mercy for Animals. [Warning: Extremely graphic content.]

Global Journal of Animal Law
A great initiative out of Finland that I am proud to be a small part of.

Problems with Animal Cruelty Law
A wonderful TED talk exploring animal cruelty law in Canada by Lesli Bisgould.

My New Zealand colleagues who have done unbelievable things for animals. This is a first-rate resource page.

An incredible organization that has done an immense amount for animals in Australia. Fantastic resources.