Governments pass laws on a regular basis, most commonly amending existing laws. Laws are passed at every level of government and are called statutes at the federal and state level or ordinances at the local level. To find out what laws are being considered, check frequently with the “current legislative” section of the website.
There are many laws concerning animals, especially companion animals, but when it comes to vivisection there are not as many laws applicable. The major federal law affecting animals in research is the Animal Welfare Act, although it does not stop the harmful or painful use of animals but only sets standards for obtaining and keeping animals, and requires oversight of experiments by an institutional committee. For a full explanation of the Animal Welfare Act, go to Learn More.
There are a number of laws that affect animals on the federal level:
State laws regarding animals include everything for anti-cruelty and animal fighting prohibitions, to animal control measures, to laws regarding the hunting and trapping of animals. To see a full list of various laws in your state, go to AnimalLaw.com.
When it comes to animal laws having to do with research, product testing, and education, there are fewer specific statutes to consider.
This is another area where state laws provide protection for animals. Only California and New Jersey have passed laws requiring manufacturers and contract testing facilities that are making cosmetics and personal care products to use non-animal methods where such tests exist.
CAL. CIV. CODE § 1834.9
CIVIL CODE: Manufacturers and contract testing facilities; restricting traditional animal test methods
N.J. STAT. ANN. § 4:22-58 & 4:22-59 (West 2007)
AGRICULTURE AND DOMESTIC ANIMALS; Definitions Relative to the Use of Animals in Product Testing
Student choice for dissection has been passed in 10 states:
- California, 1988,Cal. Education Code Section 32255.1-32255.6
- Florida, 2003,Fla. Stat. ch. 233.0674 (2001) 1003.47
- Illinois, 2000, 105 ILCS 5/27-13.1
- New Jersey, 2005, 18A:35-4.24 and 18A:35-4.25
- New York, 1994, N.Y. Educ. Law Section 809
- Oregon, 2005, OR REV. STAT. § 337.300
- Pennsylvania, 1992, 24 P.S. § 15-1523
- Rhode Island, 1997, Gen.Laws 1956, § 16-22-20
- Vermont, 2008, 16 V.S.A. § 912
- Virginia, 2004,Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-200.01 (2004)
For a model law to introduce in your state, go to Animallaw.com.
While most state anti-cruelty laws exempt animals used in laboratories, there are a few provisions that specifically exclude these animal only when they are on a research protocol, not when they are merely being housed in a testing or research facility.
Historically, laboratory research, agricultural practices and hunting have been specifically exempt from animal cruelty provisions in state and local laws. There have been even further exemptions given for animal trainers, veterinarians, protection of property and self, and others. But the exemption for laboratory research has been fairly comprehensive, frustrating efforts to punish animal abuse within laboratory settings even when the animals were being harmed outside of any research protocol.
For a complete listing of these laws, go to AnimalLaw.com
Animal Enterprise Terrorism
This is a different type of law regarding animals in the laboratory as various states as well as the federal government have adopted measures commonly known as an “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.” These laws add stringent penalties for already illegal behavior if it interferes with a laboratory’s use of animals. Currently a new rash of legislation seeks to pass similar law aimed at protecting abuse at agricultural facilities, commonly known as “Ag-Gag” laws. There are different versions of this law in various states—go to AnimalLaw.com for a complete list.
County and Municipal Law
These laws/ordinances oversees the registration of companion animals, the regulation of “nuisance wildlife” and the enforcement of animal-control initiatives such as limits on animal ownership, leash laws, etc. They rarely touch on issues having to do with vivisection.