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Animal Legal Defense Fund
Aldf logo.png
Type 501(c)(3)
Founded 1979
Headquarters Cotati, California
Staff Joyce Tischler (co-founder), Stephen Wells (CEO)
Area served North America
Focus Animal rights
Method Legal pursuit
Revenue $4,353,945 (2007) [1]
Members 100,000+ [2]
Motto "Winning the case against cruelty"

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is an American non-profit law organization that aims to protect the rights and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. It was founded in 1979 by attorneys active in shaping the emerging field of animal law. The ALDF has campaigned for stronger enforcement of anti-animal cruelty laws and more humane treatment of animals. Their activities include filing lawsuits, providing legal assistance to prosecutors handling cruelty cases, working to strengthen state anti-cruelty statutes and hosting seminars, workshops and other outreach efforts.[2] In addition to their national headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Animal Legal Defense Fund maintains an office in Portland, Oregon.



The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s primary programs include a litigation program, aimed at stopping the abuse of companion animals, and animals abused in industries including factory farming and the entertainment business; a criminal justice program, which assists law enforcement agencies and legal prosecutors in seeking maximum penalties for those who abuse animals; and an animal law program, to advance the field of animal law in law schools and among legal professionals.



The ALDF has "hundreds of dedicated attorneys" [2] that may bring suits themselves, or the organization may retain outside legal counsel. Their civil actions include filing amicus curiae briefs arguing the case for "recognition of the bonds between humans and nonhuman animals." [2] The ALDF also awards grants to attorneys involved in animal-related cases, provides expert testimony and assists those seeking non-economic damages in cases involving death or injury of a companion animal.[3]

Examples of litigation by ALDF include suits filed in North Carolina, a state that permits uninvolved third parties to sue an animal abuser.[4] One sought custody of 106 dogs held in negligent conditions by a dog breeder. A settlement was reached whereby the breeder surrendered ownership of the dogs.[5][6] In 2005 the organization sued a Californian animal trainer who had they accused of violating the Endangered Species Act and anti-cruelty statutes by beating chimpanzees with sticks.[7] The suit was settled without the trainer acknowledging any wrongdoing, however the chimps were retired from performing and transferred to a animal sanctuary in Florida.[8] In 2007 the ALDF filed a lawsuit against a pig farming company, who they claimed were intensively breeding pigs at a Californian farm in conditions that were in violation of the state's anti-cruelty laws. The organization sought a court order to improve the treatment of the animals,[9] and urged the Los Angeles Dodgers to cease buying hot dogs from the supplier to "avoid the stigma" of association.[10] In 2008 the suit was dropped when the company stopped breeding pigs at the farm for a "variety of business reasons." [11]

Criminal Justice

ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program is staffed by attorneys, including former prosecutors, with expertise in animal protection law who provide free legal assistance to prosecutors and law enforcement agencies. They aim to ensure that state criminal anti-cruelty statutes are vigorously enforced and that those convicted of animal cruelty and neglect receive appropriate sentences. They also work with state legislators to enact felony anti-cruelty statutes in states that do not yet have them and to upgrade existing laws in states that do. The Criminal Justice Program also maintains a nationwide database of animal cruelty cases and current and model animal protection laws available to prosecutors, legislators and researchers.

Animal Law

ALDF’s Animal Law Program works closely with law students and law professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. The Animal Law Program also assists bar association members interested in forming animal law bar sections or committees and partners with pro bono coordinators interested in developing animal law volunteer opportunities at their firms.


  1. ^ Financial review, 2007, Animal Legal Defense Fund. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d About Us, Animal Legal Defense Fund. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  3. ^ Litigation Program, Animal Legal Defense Fund. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
  4. ^ Fido, Fluffy Become More High Profile Part of Law, USA Today. March 29, 2008.
  5. ^ Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues to Rescue 100+ Dogs From Real-Life House of Horrors in Raleigh, Animal Legal Defense Fund. October 31, 2007. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
  6. ^ Animal Rights Group Settles With Owner of Seized Dogs, December 12, 2007.
  7. ^ ALDF Files Suit Against Hollywood Chimpanzee "Trainer" in Federal Court, Animal Legal Defense Fund. November 18, 2005. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
  8. ^ Hollywood chimps 'given freedom', BBC News. December 10, 2006. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
  9. ^ Jim Doyle, Big pork producers accused of cruelty to sows, San Francisco Chronicle. January 19, 2007. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
  10. ^ Animal Rights Activists Urge Baseball Team To Halt Hot Dog Sales,, May 14, 2007. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
  11. ^ Animal activists drop pig cruelty case against Corcoran hog farm,, March 7, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2008.


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