Animal Law and Legal Definition

Animals covers a broad range of legal topics, including cruelty to animals, negligence in veterinary care, importation or capture of exotic or endangered animals, animal fighting, responsibilities of pet owners, and rental of property to pet owners. Contracts involving the sale, raising, and breeding of animals are also covered in this topic.

Agistment contracts, dealing with the taking of another person's cattle into one's own ground to be fed, for a consideration to be paid by the owner, were originally developed for the particular purpose of pasturing cattle, but they now commonly include all bailments of animals for pasturing purposes. Such agreements are subject to the law of bailments generally. The human owner is considered to be the owner of all offspring of the animal.

Exhibition of animals is governed by state laws, which vary by state. The exhibitor may be required to present a certificate of veterinary inspection with each animal presented for exhibition. This certificate helps to assure that the animals being exhibited are free from symptoms of infectious or communicable diseases. The permitee often must comply with specific care, treatment, housing, and cage regulations.

For example, one state requires permits for temporary commercial use of live game animals. Commercial use means use of imported game for a circus, for a traveling show, or for film production; this does not include the display or exhibition of game for the primary purpose of drawing the public to a commercial business.

Under another state's statute, "commercial use" means any activity through which a person in possession of a zoological animal expects to recover all or any part of the cost of keeping the zoological animal through selling, bartering, trading, exchanging, breeding, or other use, including displaying the zoological animal for entertainment, advertisement, or business promotion.