All our clients are innocent.

Dear Fellow Animal Advocate, 

Your support has made incredible things happen for animals in the 2023 fiscal year. 

From milestone legislation passed or successfully defended, to landmark litigation and regulatory wins, to cruelty casework that changed the lives of once-abused animals for the better — this work truly makes an impact. And the difference you make adds up over time: bills become laws and protect animals for years to come; legal precedents are set, paving the way for future victories, and the next generation of animal lawyers is educated.  

Your dedication makes it all possible.  

On a personal note, I returned to the Animal Legal Defense Fund in 2023 as the new Executive Director after several years furthering animal law in academia. I was inspired to rejoin this powerful organization for the same reasons you choose to be a part of it: because together we’re effective, we’re strategic, we’re dedicated, and we persist for the animals. 

I hope you take pride in learning about some of the victories you made possible for animals in the 2023 fiscal year — progress we continue to build on every day with your help. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. 

For the animals, 

Chris Green 
Executive Director 


Litigation Victories & Successes
Legislative Victories
Animal Cruelty Case Assists
Previous Animal Legal Defense Fund Cases Cited as Precedent in Legal Rulings
Animal Legal Defense Fund Cases Cited in Law Journals and Legal Publications
Active Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapters in Law Schools Across the Country

Companion Animals

Victory over cruel puppy mills in California

When the governor signed an Animal Legal Defense Fund-sponsored bill into law, California struck a blow against the inhumane puppy mill industry. The bill bans predatory lending and financing in online sales of dogs, cats, and rabbits. Predatory lending is a common puppy mill industry scheme, and not only props up the industry, but also commonly causes financial hardship for borrowers due to initially undisclosed and exorbitant interest rates and hidden fees. The new law is a win-win for animals and consumers alike. 
Learn more.

Ending the puppy mill pipeline in New York

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, our New York supporters, and a coalition of fellow animal protection groups successfully advocated for the enactment of a statewide retail pet sale ban in New York. The Puppy Mill Pipeline Act bans pet store sales of puppies, kittens, and rabbits — who are overwhelmingly sourced from inhumane commercial breeding mills — instead encouraging pet stores to partner with animal shelters and rescue organizations to offer rescued animals for adoption. 
Learn more.

Ranking every state's animal protection laws

Every year, the Animal Legal Defense Fund produces the most comprehensive report of its kind ranking each U.S. state and territory on the strength of its laws protecting animals. The U.S. State Animal Protection Laws Ranking Report has inspired state and territorial governments to improve and even thoroughly overhaul their laws in an effort to combat cruelty.  
For the third straight year, Maine held the top spot. 

Supporting pioneering Courtroom Animal Advocate Program work 

When animals are the victims of cruelty, they can’t exactly stand up for their own interests in court. That’s why, across the country, the Animal Legal Defense Fund supports the passage and practical application of Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (CAAP) laws, which enable volunteer attorneys and supervised law students to represent animal victims’ interests in court. This work includes supporting the pioneering CAAP efforts of the Animal Law Clinic at the University of Connecticut School of Law (U-Conn) with grant funding to enable training and advocacy guides for CAAP practitioners, as well as additional research and outreach efforts. 
Learn more.

Groundbreaking program launched in Illinois, with plans for expansion 

Our decades of work on cruelty cases has shown us that the key to a successful on-the-ground response is close collaboration among law enforcement officers, veterinary care providers, animal sheltering professionals, prosecutors, and other local stakeholders. Not only did Animal Legal Defense Fund experts write the book on the subject — literally — but we’re also taking our expertise straight to the communities that can benefit from it the most. We launched the Collaborative Response Project in McHenry County, Illinois, providing tailored training, legal support, and critical funds to key stakeholders — and we have plans to expand the program to additional locations. 
Learn more.

Protecting dogfighting survivors in Michigan

The Animal Legal Defense Fund provided crucial support in Michigan’s largest-ever dogfighting bust — with 133 victim dogs seized. We deployed our experts to the scene to assist with forensic examinations of the dogs and documenting evidence, and provided grant funding to support the significant veterinary needs of the animal victims. Many have since been rehabilitated and are loving life in loving adoptive homes.
Learn more.



Leo is a cruelty victim, starved by the very person who should have protected him. Lawfully seized from his legal owner by a Connecticut animal control agency, Leo was safe, but stuck in limbo — his owner refused to relinquish ownership, leaving Leo in protective custody at a local animal shelter for more than two years. The Animal Legal Defense Fund provided grant funding for Leo’s veterinary treatment and other care needs, while successful advocacy from the U-Conn CAAP program we support helped secure his release from custody, allowing him to be adopted into a happy new home.



During the Michigan dogfighting bust, Lloyd was found tethered outdoors with a heavy chain in the cold winter. Following the rescue, Lloyd blossomed in the care of rescue partner Bark Nation, even attending Detroit Lions training camp! There, he befriended players, mascot Roary the lion, and — better still — an adopter in one of the team staff members!

Photos: Bark Nation


Your support makes a world of difference for companion animals in need. 1,200+ animal cruelty victims were directly impacted by the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s criminal justice casework. Scroll over the below photos to read about three examples.
Learn more.

The 7-year-old shih tzu had been beaten by her guardian’s boyfriend, requiring emergency surgery, when your support enabled the Animal Legal Defense Fund to step in. Today, Bella has made impressive progress toward recovery and has a new loving home. Her abuser was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
After finding herself at a high-intake Georgia shelter, Jazzy was chosen to be a part of Canine CellMates, a program that pairs individuals who would otherwise be incarcerated with dogs from Fulton County Animal Services to provide care and training to help them thrive in their future homes.
Trapped in a rusted crate filled with his own waste, Scooby was emaciated and unable to walk at the time of his rescue. You helped fund his rehabilitation — and the advanced veterinary forensic work that led to the conviction of those responsible for his suffering.



Animal Cruelty Victims Assisted
Grant Funding Assisting Cruelty Cases
Tené Johnson

After a small dog named Gigi was beaten with a metal rod, causing severe injuries, the trial court astonishingly dismissed the indictment of her abuser. That led to a series of appeals in a case whose outcome was crucial to preserving New York’s animal cruelty laws. Together with the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, we filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief, seeking to help ensure justice for Gigi. Pro bono partner Latham & Watkins and Associate Attorney Tené Johnson — an alumnus and former board member of the Animal Legal Defense Fund Columbia Law School Student Chapter — partnered with the Animal Legal Defense Fund on the project, which helped secure an important victory for Gigi and all animal cruelty victims in New York. Latham & Watkins is among our 2023 Advancement in Animal Law Pro Bono Achievement Award recipients, and we’re honored that Johnson has since joined the Animal Legal Defense Fund Board of Directors. 

Student Chapter Spotlight

The Animal Legal Defense Fund St. Thomas University College of Law Student Chapter partnered with its local Miami-Dade County animal sheltering agency to provide spay-neuter surgeries and vaccinations to community cats on campus. Trap-Neuter-Return programs allow community cats to remain in the territory where they feel most comfortable, while humanely controlling their overall population by preventing new litters. The student chapter members also host an ongoing donation drive to provide food and supplies for the cats — and have even expanded their efforts by helping a fellow student chapter launch a similar program. For their efforts, the law students were honored with the Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter of the Year Award. 
Meet the honorees.

Animal Law Symposium

In the Animal Law Symposium: Criminal Justice, Animal Legal Defense Fund staff and other experts convened for a two-day event exploring topics from Courtroom Animal Advocate Programs (CAAP) laws to programs like Canine CellMates that pair inmate handlers with dogs who need love, care, and the skills to succeed in new homes. 
All sessions are available to view on demand. 

Farmed Animals

Farmed animals win at the Supreme Court

In a major victory over the factory farming industry, the animals’ lower-court win in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross — an industry lawsuit challenging the California farmed animal protection law known as Proposition 12 — was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. With coalition partners, we intervened in the case to help California defend the constitutionality of its law, which bans the cruelest forms of confinement for mother pigs, hens in the egg industry, and calves raised for veal within the state, and requires that certain animal products meet the same space standards in order to be sold in California.
Learn more.

Victory against unconstitutional Ag-Gag in North Carolina

As the public has become more aware of the cruelty and hazardous conditions on factory farms, the industry hasn’t sought to change its ways. Instead, it has worked with industry-friendly lawmakers to pass state laws known as Ag-Gag laws, which penalize would-be whistleblowers and undercover investigators who seek to expose the truth about factory farming. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has taken on these unconstitutional laws across the country. In the 2023 fiscal year, our coalition’s lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s Ag-Gag law resulted in a ruling in the animals’ favor at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which held that undercover investigations and whistleblowing are newsgathering activities protected by the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has since declined to review the case, leaving the animals’ victory intact. 
Learn more.

Biogas or Bulls#*t?
In partnership with Academy Award-winning actor and producer Joaquin Phoenix, the Animal Legal Defense Fund released a video exposing the deceptive marketing of factory farm biogas — in reality, factory farm gas produced from the waste of cows and pigs — by the animal agriculture industry.
Learn more.

Protecting the environment — and animals — from the hazardous factory farming industry

Following a lawsuit from the Animal Legal Defense Fund and coalition partners, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at long last announced plans to release updated water pollution control standards for slaughterhouses. Our coalition’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) led to a ruling that the FSA must assess the environmental impact of medium-sized concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) before providing them with government loans. Our lawsuit Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Foster Farms, which challenges the industry giant’s use of a highly cruel and water-wasting slaughter method at a facility in drought-stricken Central California, proceeded apace in the discovery process. Meanwhile, we led a coalition of more than 140 public interest groups in urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture not to financially reward the factory farming industry for its own methane pollution using funds from the Inflation Reduction Act. 


cases and legal matters focused on farmed animals and interrelated issues of environmental protection and justice

California’s foie gras ban stands

The foie gras industry has sought for years to undermine California’s ban on this cruel product. In the 2023 fiscal year, the industry’s Hail-Mary pass to have the U.S. Supreme Court review its case was rejected, leaving the ban in place. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has fought for years to protect California’s foie gras ban, including by filing an amicus brief with coalition partners in the latest case. 
Learn more.

Student Chapter Spotlight

After a bull suffered a badly broken leg during a rodeo event and was dragged from a stadium on the campus of George Mason University (GMU), the Animal Legal Defense Fund GMU Law School Student Chapter leapt into action. Student chapter members sent a letter to the university president and circulated a petition to students and faculty, urging the administration to ban Professional Bull Riders events from returning to campus.
Learn more.

Victory for mother pigs and calves raised for veal in New Jersey

In the culmination of a legislative fight that took more than a decade, the Animal Legal Defense Fund helped secure the passage of New Jersey’s ban on the cruel confinement of mother pigs and calves raised for veal in crates so small that they can’t even turn around. This important bill, which passed the full Legislature in the 2023 fiscal year and has since been signed into law, requires New Jersey farmers to provide these animals enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs freely.
Learn more.

Landmark bill introduced in Congress

The Transparency in Depopulation Act, an Animal Legal Defense Fund-sponsored bill that would prohibit federal relief funds from being used for the mass killing of farmed animals by heatstroke and suffocation — a highly cruel method known as ventilation shutdown — was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Learn more.

Protecting farmed animal neglect victims in New Jersey

When the victims in a cruelty case are farmed animals, criminal investigations and charges are more rare. Law enforcement offices often lack the resources and specific knowledge to pursue these cases. But authorities treated a Hunterdon County, New Jersey, case with the seriousness it deserved, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund was able to step in to assist in the direct care of a large number of farmed animal victims. Seventy-one animals, including cows, pig, goats, and sheep, were found in inadequate conditions, and deceased animals were also found on the property. With your help, we provided both funding to cover costs of care for the surviving victims and extensive case consultation before, during, and after the execution of the search warrant in the case — huge steps in seeking justice for these victim animals. 
Learn more about the criminal justice work you make possible.


Victory for animals protected by the Endangered Species Act

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund following our lawsuit to vacate dangerous new rules imposed by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2019 that weakened the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Those disastrous rules made it easier to “de-list” endangered species, thereby removing their ESA protections; eliminated immediate protections for species deemed “threatened”; made it harder to designate an area as “critical habitat” for an ESA-protected species; and allowed economic factors to trump science in determining whether a species should be protected under the ESA. This ruling was a critical win for endangered animals. 
Learn more.

Protecting wildlife from poachers in Massachusetts

With your help, the Animal Legal Defense Fund successfully advocated for an important anti-poaching law in Massachusetts. The new law modernizes penalties for illegal hunting and authorizes Massachusetts to join the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact — making it the 50th U.S. state to join the Compact and marking the end of Massachusetts’ status as the last safe haven in the U.S. for convicted poachers who have lost their licenses or even earned a lifetime hunting ban in other states. 
Learn more.

Banning cruel wildlife killing contests in New York

With advocacy from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the New York State Legislature passed a bill banning wildlife killing contests throughout the state. These contests make a cruel “game” of killing native wildlife for cash and prizes, and are often held at the behest of farmers and ranchers. Over the course of a day or a weekend, hundreds of animals may be indiscriminately killed, with common victims including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and prairie dogs. New York’s ban has since been signed into law. 
Learn more.

Protecting farmed minks — and public health

An Animal Legal Defense Fund-sponsored bill, the Mink: Vectors for Infection Risk in the United States Act (Mink VIRUS Act), was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Minks farmed for their fur are not only subjected to extreme cruelty — they’re also highly susceptible to diseases that pose a threat to humans, such as COVID-19 and avian flu. Tens of thousands of minks in the U.S. — and millions worldwide — have been infected with COVID-19, including in documented cases in which minks have transmitted the virus to humans. The Mink VIRUS Act would end mink fur farming in the U.S., while helping farmers transition out of this inhumane and dangerous industry.
Learn more.

Student Chapter Highlight

Committed to taking action for wildlife, the Animal Legal Defense Fund University of Colorado Law School Student Chapter combined their efforts to create a thoughtful, well-researched response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s request for public comment on a proposed rule change related to the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act. Student chapter leaders held an event to introduce the topic to students and discuss what public commenting entails, then divided up research tasks and took a week to draft each portion before holding a full-day event to edit and finalize their comment. Public comments are a critical way for advocates to get involved with the rulemaking process. For their efforts, the group was honored with the Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter of the Year Award. 
Meet the honorees. 

University of Colorado Law School Student Chapter members holding their 2023 Chapter of the Year Award. Pictured from left to right: Shelby White, Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky, Mason Liddell, Patricia Rivero.


32 Speakers & Moderators from 17 Organizations

Legal Professionals
Law Students

“This was a very inspiring weekend, and I am thankful for everyone's passion, kindness, and commitment to the animals. Thanks so much for your hard work organizing this event.” 

— 2023 Animal Law Conference Attendee

Captive Animals

Big win for big cats nationwide

In a victory years in the making, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and coalition partners successfully lobbied for the enactment of a new federal law, the Big Cat Public Safety Act. The law bans the private possession of big cats such as lions, tigers, and mountain lions, and ends the cruel “cub petting” industry, in which big cat cubs are prematurely separated from their mothers and forced into high-priced photo opportunities with the public. Because these cubs soon become too large and dangerous for the public to handle, the cub petting industry encourages rampant breeding of big cats and has largely fueled the big cat “pet” trade. The bill’s passage is a major win for animal protection. 
Learn more.

Petition brings important progress for captive animals

With coalition partner CompassionWorks International, we secured an important regulatory change that will help protect countless animals in roadside zoos and other facilities regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is tasked with overseeing facilities licensed to exhibit animals under the federal Animal Welfare Act. But all too often, that oversight has been limited by the facilities’ failure to disclose animal deaths. In response to our petition for rulemaking, the USDA acknowledged the risk of “inaccuracies or deficiencies” in tracking of animal deaths and agreed to revise its forms to ensure more complete records of animal mortality. 
Learn more.

Taking action for captive wildlife through a suite of important regulatory comments 

When the government asks for input on animal-related issues, it’s vital that animal protection organizations get involved — after all, we know that the opposition will. The Animal Legal Defense Fund advocated for critical protections for captive animals in comments on government rulemaking related to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Critically, birds were left unprotected for years under the AWA because no regulations had been formalized. The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s comments helped ensure new regulations requiring that captive birds in exhibition are able to express behaviors that come naturally, such as foraging and dust-bathing; prohibiting tethering that causes harm to an exhibited bird; and requiring appropriate perches. 
Learn more about the regulatory work you make possible. 

K&L Gates

When the Animal Legal Defense Fund challenged the inadequate conditions at a rural Pennsylvania zoo, pro bono partner K&L Gates was there to help. In the 2023 fiscal year, the case achieved an animal law milestone with a successful petition for reconsideration that reinstated our incorrectly dismissed public nuisance claim related to violations of wildlife protection laws. More recently, it has been successfully resolved in a settlement. K&L Gates is among our 2023 Advancement in Animal Law Pro Bono Achievement Award recipients. Photo: One of the two wolves at the zoo.




Lawsuit takes on USDA’s failed ‘revoke and run’ policy

All too often, the USDA fails animals who are protected under the Animal Welfare Act. Even when the agency revokes the exhibitor license of a roadside zoo, traveling zoo or circus, or a puppy mill, it commonly leaves animals behind to suffer in the now-unlicensed facility. Worse still, when a facility is unlicensed, it no longer receives USDA inspections at all, which can result in even worse conditions for animals — but the agency has long shirked its responsibility by claiming it does not have the legal authority to relocate the animals from these facilities. After the USDA denied our earlier petition urging it to rescind this failed “revoke and run” policy, we filed a lawsuit against the agency. The case is ongoing. 
Learn more.

Critical fee-shifting precedent set in Special Memories Zoo case

Building on our earlier win against the inhumane Special Memories Zoo — which was permanently shut down as a result of our lawsuit — the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed a lower court’s decision and ruled in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s favor to award attorneys’ fees in the case under the fee-shifting provision of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This decision sets an important precedent that will protect many more animals, because ESA cases are resource-intensive — so without fee shifting, there is limited incentive for citizen groups to bring lawsuits to help enforce the law. 
Learn more.

Supporting the work of special prosecutors

Bolstered by financial support from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Virginia Attorney General’s Animal Law Unit addresses animal cruelty situations ranging from dogfighting to roadside zoos and beyond. In the office’s successful prosecution of Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, the infamous Tiger King personality was convicted of four wildlife trafficking and related conspiracy charges. 
Learn more about the criminal justice work you make possible.

Animals in Research

Critical win for animals in New York

With your help, the Animal Legal Defense Fund successfully advocated for the passage of the New York Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act. The new law bans the manufacture or sale of cosmetics tested on animals, making New York the 10th U.S. state to enact such a law and demonstrating a clear legal trend toward the adoption and acceptance of humane, animal-free testing methods. 
Learn more.

Landmark win for primates in laboratories

A Maryland federal judge issued a stunning ruling in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and coalition partners, led by the Harvard Animal Law & Policy Clinic, in our case brought on behalf of primates used in biomedical research. The judge found that the USDA acted unlawfully when it denied our petition to improve standards for the psychological well-being of these primates. Hard work pays off: You enabled the Animal Legal Defense Fund to stay the course through multiple related cases over a period of years. That work uncovered a secret USDA policy outsourcing many inspections of research facilities to a private organization closely linked to the research industry itself. In denying our petition, the USDA claimed that its decades-old standards for primates’ psychological well-being didn’t need to be updated because the agency inspects “all of the animals” in regulated research facilities every year to ensure an “enrichment plan” is in place. That claim, as the secret policy showed, was false. The ruling requires the USDA to reconsider its denial. 
Learn more.


Justice Legacy Society Members

Robert H. Adams & Kerstin M. Adams

Ray Ahlbrant, Sylvia Ahlbrandt

Donna Alles

Jean Bauer

Donna Beal

Marc W. Boots        

Darlene Brunner and Steve Nussbaum

Cathleen Burns

Helen Cameron, PhD

Frances Carlisle

Kimberly Conley

Richard F. Dandolo

Jacqueline Del Val

Lyla A. DeVita

Julianne Dixon

Frances Eastburn

Susan & Michael Erb

Nancy Claire Fleming/Fleming Trust

Alyne Fortgang

Ann Friday

Elisabeth Gambill Caldwell

Nancy Ganschaw Frakes

Wendy L. Hall

Trudi G. Howell

Robert & Nila Hughes

Ingrid Hullman MD Living Trust

Glenn Jaspers Jr.

Don Kamprath & RJ Kamprath

Eileen Kenny

Patricia Ann King

Teri Kleinmann

Jeff Kohn

Catherine M. Koshkin & Patrick F. Cleary

Evan Jane Kriss

Linda Lee

Sylvia Lucas

Sarah H. Luick

Barbara L. Magin

Mark S. Mansfield

Leslie C. Markey

Sarah Markgraf

Catherine Mauro

Suzanne McAllister

Natalie Melnyk

Steven Michelson

Robert H. & Victoria C. Moll

Annemarie Nauert

Tonie Newman

Arletta Nicholl

Jane Skibness Norling

Jackie Northam

Julie Palais

Dawn M. Perault & Timothy G. Amstutz

Robert R. Radabaugh Jr. and Rachael L. Lyon

Julia Rampone

Thomas S. Richards

Patricia M. Riker

Beth Rodgers

Angel Orona Rodriguez

Mary Schinke

Jeanie Scott

Janet Sokol

Janice E. Spencer

Greg Spitzer and Susan Dalton

Cordelia Stone

Elke Strunka

Jennifer Swoboda

Crystal Ann Taylor

Carolyn Thomas

Hanako Tomizuka

Joan Troy

Karen T. West

Diane M. Whitney

Patricia Williamson

Monique & Paul Winther

Sue Woodrup

Judy Zimet

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is a nonprofit organization funded almost entirely by individual, tax-deductible contributions. For donation, membership, and change of address inquiries, please email us at, or call 707-795-2533. For information about our work and programs, email us at

Our Mission

The Animal Legal Defense Fund's Mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund Board of Directors

Leslie Barcus, Chair

Julie O’Donnell, Vice Chair

Ginny Tiu, Secretary

Jon Feigelson, Treasurer

Meena Alagappan, Director

David H. Braff, Director

Daina Bray, Director

Brian Cooley, Director

Heidi M. Hurd, Director

Cameron Icard, Director

Tené Johnson, Director

Katherine Stirling, Director

Laurel Zaeske, Director

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our EIN number is 94-2681680. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is rated four-stars by Charity Navigator, is a Platinum Level GuideStar Exchange participant, a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity, and an Independent Charity Seal of Excellence awardee, ensuring that we meet the highest standards of accountability, efficiency, and impact. For intellectual property information and terms of use, visit our Intellectual Property Terms of Use page. For privacy policy and ad & cookie policy information, visit our Privacy Policy pages.

Animal Legal Defense Fund, National Headquarters
525 East Cotati Avenue, Cotati, CA 94931
(707) 795-2533 |