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Animal Law

Learn about legal issues that affect animal welfare, alumni fighting for animal protection, and the latest news from Vermont Law & Graduate School's growing animal law program. 

Grace van Deelen is a journalist who writes about climate, agriculture, wildlife, and science and was a 2023 animal law media fellow at VLGS. She has published work for Sierra MagazineInside Climate News, and Scientific American, among other publications. She is…

The Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Humane Society Legislative Fund filed a petition for rulemaking to rescind the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) categorical exclusion (CE) from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. This action seeks to bring FSIS in alignment with NEPA’s obligations and ensure thorough…

 

Today, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Center for Biological Diversity (Center), with the assistance of the Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic at Vermont Law and Graduate School, filed a crucial complaint to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against JBS SA and Pilgrim’s Pride. These corporations are among the largest meat…

Each summer, VLGS welcomes distinguished scholars  in the fields of environmental, energy, agriculture, animal advocacy, and international environmental law. 

Visiting…

Helping our animal friends

Lab testing of animals is often used to study diseases, or assess the safety of new drugs or substances before they are trialled on humans. Could A.I. provide a solution?

Listen here!

​Thanks to generous funding from the ASPCA, the Animal Law and Policy Institute welcomes Christine Ro as one of our summer media fellows. Christine worked for environmental and…

This May, Vermont Law and Graduate School celebrated another graduating class of incredible students setting out to make a difference in the world. Along with law students who…

Photo credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media

Vermont Law and Graduate School’s Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic (FAAC) recently drafted comments in support of…

"Throughout the meat industry, even the most stringent slaughter standards are only held accountable on an annual basis anyway, says Delcianna Winders, associate professor of law, and director of the Animal Law and Policy Institute at Vermont Law School. The bottom line, according to Winders: 'having a brief pre-announced inspection once a year for compliance — with guidelines set by the very industry being regulated — is no assurance that the animals in your dog or cat food were handled … or slaughtered humanely.'”

Read the full article…

By: Vanessa Kranz, Animal Law Society Co-Chair '23-'24

 

On April 27, 2024, members of Vermont Law & Graduate School’s Animal Law Society volunteered to help VINE, a local farm animal sanctuary, build a much-needed fence.

VINE is a LGBTQ-led sanctuary with a focus on environmental justice. They have over 500 residents including goats, sheep, cows, turkeys, chickens, ducks, pigeons, roosters, llamas, and more! These residents each have their own story.

 

Many of the thrilling photographs of bears, wolves, and tigers on your social media feeds are taken at game farms — places critics say are the exotic-animal equivalent of puppy mills

Vermont law professor Delcianna Winders said that even though the department’s documented findings were very critical of the conditions at Triple D, it’s rare that anything is ever done to properly enforce even basic animal-welfare standards. “The USDA is, without a doubt, failing to protect animals at the facilities it is supposed to regulate,” she says. “Even when the agency’s own…

Workplace Hazards for Meat and Poultry Workers

Scholars explore line speed and worker safety regulations governing meatpacking and poultry plants.

 

"The bald eagle. The humpback whale. The dusky gopher frog.

These animals stand among the nearly 300 creatures great and small saved from extinction thanks to a half-century of protection by the Endangered Species Act.

Widely regarded by legal experts as one of the world’s most powerful statutes for protection of wildlife and ecosystems, the Nixon-era act has halted the decline of hundreds of species along with protecting their habitats.

'We would be in a much, much worse place if America had not made the commitment that it did back in 1973 to protect and conserve…

Listen to the most recent episode of the Hothouse Earth Podcast featuring Professor Laura Fox, director of the Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic, along with host Laura Ireland.

 

 

Last weekend, VLGS students Drew McCormick, Taylor Rush, and Daria Bednarczyk made us proud while successfully competing in the …

Vermont Law and Graduate School invites scholars and journalists in the fields of environmental, energy, agriculture, animal advocacy, and international environmental law and policy to serve as Distinguished Summer Scholars and Media Fellows

Animal law and policy has had a presence at Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS)—and in its renowned Summer Session—for decades. Over the years, animal law and policy offerings have grown with new degree programs. Join us to learn from accomplished scholars and practitioners this summer in beautiful Vermont!

Open to students, professionals, and lifelong learners from across the country and the world, this summer’s animal law courses offer opportunities for anyone interested in…

Think like a lawyer. Report like a journalist.

We welcome applications from journalists covering animal law and policy issues to join us this summer in beautiful Vermont. 

Selected journalists will participate in the VLGS summer session, taught by internationally recognized scholars and leaders. While on campus, fellows will interact with experts in environmental and animal law and policy, forming connections that provide sources for stories and often evolve into years-long professional relationships…

Delcianna Winders, professor and director of the Animal Law and Policy Institute, is featured for the second time in the prestigious Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law and Policy, Inc.…

Last week, Devin Brennan (JD/MAPP'25) and Mario Heitmann (MAPP'24) traveled to the State House in Montpelier to testify before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy in support…

Professor Laura Fox (JD/MELP'13), Professor Delcianna Winders, Jenny Bass (JD'24), Vanessa Kranz (JD'25), Daria Bednarczyk (JD'25/MELP'23), Professor Pamela Vesilind (JD'08),…

The Animal Law and Policy Institute celebrates two Vermont Law and Graduate School students who participated in the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition, an event offering a profound opportunity for learning and advocacy in international environmental law. This year, the competition presented an intriguing…

 

The faculty, staff, and students of the Animal Law and Policy Institute mourn the loss of Steven Wise, animal…

The US uses endangered monkeys to test drugs. This law could free them.

In partnership with the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law and Policy, Inc. and Brooks McCormick Jr. Trust for Animal Rights Law and Policy, the Animal Law and Policy Institute (ALPI) at Vermont Law and Graduate School is pleased to offer up to three premier Animal Law and Policy LLM Fellowships for the 2024-2025 academic year. The fellowship combines the opportunity to…

The Animal Law and Policy Institute at Vermont Law and Graduate School welcomes law school faculty to apply to join us this summer as our Animal Law Distinguished Scholar. 

Each year, VLGS invites leaders in the fields of animal advocacy, environmental law, energy, and agriculture to serve as …

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Delcianna Winders, an associate professor of law and director of the Animal Law and Policy Institute at Vermont Law School calls the bill a step in the right direction. For now, she says, “Massive subsidies to industrial animal agriculture disincentives protecting animals during severe weather events,” Winders says, which leaves “millions to suffer and die every year.” This bill, she says, would at least require farmers to make some demonstration of preparedness, which could help to remove some of that incentive.

...

More transparency around disaster…

In an extraordinary turn of events, we are thrilled to announce a landmark victory for Animal Partisan in their lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This triumph marks a significant moment in the fight for transparency and accountability in government operations concerning animal protection. As previously reported, with the help of Vermont Law and Graduate School’s Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic and Sorenson Law LLC, Animal Partisan sued the FBI over its refusal to release records responsive to a…

"Footage that was captured by Mercy for Animals’ undercover worker and shared exclusively with Bon Appétit depicts tens of thousands of birds that appear so tightly packed into barns that the ground is barely visible beneath them; multiple turkeys that seem to have skin lesions and bloody wounds; and various deformed birds that appear unable to stand or move themselves to food and water. In multiple instances, turkeys are kicked, shoved, and…

Canned Photography: Animals, Not-So-Wild Images, and Lawlessness

Hosted by the New York University Animal Studies Program with support from the The Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law and Policy, Inc. 

Watch the Recording Here

Description: "Stock photographs of apparently wild animals in apparently wild settings are frequently used for calendars, websites, and fundraising appeals—including by environmental and animal advocacy organizations. Unbeknownst to most, these photographs are frequently of captive…

Laura Fox standing with her banner and George Mason Statute
Prof. Fox (left) with GMU Dean Ann Ardis

We are delighted to announce that our very own Prof.

Laura Fox

Professor Laura Fox, Director of the Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic, contributed to The Hill in No, Congress should not expand the use of categorical exclusions. She expands the Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic's work arguing against categorical exclusions in NEPA for slaughterhouse oversight to geothermal energy. Fox argues that industries should not be advocating streamlining NEPA review while risking harm to people and the environment.

 

 

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Last weekend, Jenny Bass presented her paper, When the Rubber Meets the Road . . . Then the Water, Fish, and the Whales: Using the Endangered Species Act to Overcome Dilution of the Clean Water Act, as part of the Law Student Scholarship Panel during the Student Convention at the 2023 Animal Law Conference.  

A heartfelt thank you to the Animal Law Podcast for featuring the Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic’s lawsuit: Animal Partisan v. FBI. 

This case is a vital stand for…

Darren Perron spoke with VLGS's Professor Delcianna Winders about the growing interest in animal advocacy, and the new Animal Law and Policy LLM Fellowships.

Watch here: Vt. Law School offering animal advocacy fellowships (wcax.com)

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This episode of Knowing Animals features Professor Delcianna J. Winders. Delci is an associate professor of law and director of the Animal Law and Policy Institute at Vermont Law and Graduate School. Her published work addresses the law around farmed animals, slaughterhouse workers, captive wild animals, animal advocacy, animal testing, and related subjects in animal and administrative law. They talk about her 2022 paper ‘Treating Humans Worse Than Animals?…

 

What has been your education/career path so far?

I have spent all of my young adult years working in human services. I've worked in mental health facilities…

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Mid-career and aspiring animal advocates have a new opportunity to further their work and education with Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS).  

The Animal Law and Policy Institute, in partnership with the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law and Policy, Inc. and Brooks McCormick Jr. Trust for…

Today, Vermont Law and Graduate School’s Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic (FAAC) submitted comments on behalf of their client, the Center for Biological Diversity, addressing the Council for Environmental Quality’s proposed Phase 2 rule changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The comments are narrowly focused to address the prolific and problematic use of categorical exclusions (CEs) by government agencies to avoid meaningful NEPA review.

Enacted in 1970, NEPA is often…

This week, the Ladies Who Law podcast welcomed Delci Winders to talk about animal law, her career path, opportunities at VLGS, advancing legal education in this field, and how…

We're thrilled to announce the publication of our inaugural Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic "Year in Review" report! This comprehensive document offers an inside look into the work we've done, the victories we've achieved, and the progress we've made in our mission to train students in advancing the welfare and legal status of farmed animals.

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The recent decision in Held v. Montana, is undoubtedly a monumental step in addressing the dire need for actionable climate change solutions. It not only highlights the state's responsibility to protect the environment for its citizens but also underscores the constitutional right to a stable climate system. By emphasizing CO2’s contributions to climate change and challenging the government's support of fossil fuels, the youth plaintiffs spotlighted the responsibility of states to adopt policies reflective of the broader concerns of environmental stability. However, it's important to…

Listen to Professor Winders on the Sentientism Podcast discussing “what’s real” and “who matters.” Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of the compelling conversation may be found ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠here on YouTube⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠.

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Professor Delci Winders, Director of the Animal Law and Policy Institute at VLGS shares her thoughts in USA Today's: "The next pandemic could spring from the US meat supply, new report finds."

The article includes:

The report led by Harvard Law School and NYU's Center for Environmental and Animal Protection highlights several areas of vulnerability, including commercial farms where millions of livestock come into close…

Animal Partisan, a pioneering animal protection organization that utilizes innovative legal strategies to challenge the key industries involved in animal exploitation, just filed a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In this endeavor, Animal Partisan is represented by the Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic at Vermont Law and Graduate School, in collaboration with the…

Vermont Law and Graduate School is excited to welcome two Animal Law…

Daria Bednarck (a rising 2L) and Social Media Coordinator for the Animal Law Society has been awarded a 2023 Advancement of Animal Law Scholarship. Read more!

Vermont Law and Graduate School is excited to welcome two Animal Law…

Laura Fox, Douglas M. Costle Chair in Environmental Law and Director of the Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic at VLGS, has published "The Intersectionality of Environmental Injustice, Other Societal Harms, and Farmed Animal Welfare" in the Environmental Justice journal.  

This timely and important work uncovers deep-seated connections between how we treated farmed animals and the severe societal and environmental consequences that follow. It also…

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On May 19, 2023, Vermont Law and Graduate School commemorated the life and work of Don Baur. Don was an outstanding environmental and animal lawyer, a mentor and inspiration to many, and champion for the Animal Law and Policy Institute. He has been incredibly missed since his passing last fall.  

During the…

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Last weekend’s graduation…

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The Animal Law and Policy Institute was honored to co-host the Centre for Animal Rights Law's Lecturers' Workshop at the VLGS…

Mother pig in a gestation crate

In a momentous decision, the United States Supreme Court has upheld the Ninth Circuit's dismissal of…

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Animal law and policy has had a presence at Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS)—and in its renowned Summer Session—for decades. Over the years, animal law and…

On March 18th, two Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS) teams competed in the revived National Animal Law…

The New York State Bar Association Committee on Animals and the Law published the latest Laws and Paws Newsletter announcing their student writing competition winners.

Congratulations to VLGS students Vanessa Beane and Bailey Soderberg for their winning entries!

Second place – Vanessa Beane, student at Vermont Law School. Beane received $250 for her winning paper entitled “The Big Cat Public Safety Act: Why the Legacy Clause Needs to be…

Two roosters at VINE Sanctuary

Meeting animals who have been rescued from farms, confinement, and fighting can be one of the most powerful experiences for students learning to effectively advocate for animals. Looking into these animals’ eyes, learning their personalities, and seeing them thrive in a safe space inspires advocates to use the legal system to help save lives.  

VINE Sanctuary…

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The Animal Law and Policy Institute at Vermont Law and Graduate School is excited to announce the Animal Law pathway within the Online Hybrid J.D…

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Vermont Law and Graduate School’s Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic Assists Groups in Urging the US EPA to Meaningfully Regulate CAFOs under the Clean Air Act by Eliminating its Fugitive Emissions Exemption

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This January (2023) Associate Professor of Law and the Director of the Animal Law and Policy Institute Prof. Delci Winders discussed our new Master of Animal Protection and Policy (MAPP) degree. MAPP students learn to navigate law and policy landscapes and effect change for animals. The curriculum, developed by faculty from the Animal Law…

Animal law Podcast 91

The Animal Law and Policy Institute at Vermont Law and Graduate School is proud to partner with the Cambridge Center for Animal Rights Law to help host their Lecturers' Workshop on May 8-12, 2023. 

Learn more with Mariann Sullivan on this week's episode of the Animal Law Podcast: So You Want to Teach Animal Rights Law.

Professor Winders weighs in on Neuralink's animal testing, the lack of enforcement under the Animal Welfare Act, and "animal experiment exceptionalism."  

She was quoted in Reuters exclusive, "Musk’s Neuralink faces federal probe, employee backlash over animal tests," which broke last week, and Vox's follow-up, "Neuralink shows what happens…

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The Animal Law and Policy Institute has partnered with the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law to host a Lecturers' Workshop for those interested in teaching an animal rights law course at an undergraduate, graduate, or law school. Applications are due December 23, 2022 for the workshop that will take place May 8-12, 2023 in Burlington, Vermont. You may visit their website to learn more!

 

 

In November of 2022, VLGS student Daria Bednarczyk (pictured far right) participated in the Animal Legal Defense Fund's Student Convention presenting her paper, "Behind Closed Doors…

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Vermont Law and Graduate School’s Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic (“FAAC”) assisted community members and public interest groups in submitting a public comment against the potential ex

Watch Joaquin Phoenix's video thanking Professor Winders, and encouraging VLGS animal law and policy students, in VegNews!

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New legislation regulating industrial animal agriculture will be before the Senate, and Vermont Law and Graduate School’s Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic (“FAAC”) assisted in researching and drafting some of the legislative language in the bill. Today, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker…

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Please consider applying for Vermont Law and Graduate School's …

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Watch Online: 

Slaughterhouse Workers, Animals, and the Environment with Delcianna Winders & Elan Abrell - Yale Law School

 

Description

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a bright light on industrial slaughterhouses in the United States and their impacts on the vulnerable beings—both human and animal—they exploit. But the severity of these impacts is the result of a long…

"Does Animal Agriculture Cause Climate Change and Pandemics?"

By Jennifer Mishler

 

Delcianna Winders, a professor and Director of the Animal Law and Policy Institute at Vermont Law School, writes, “For decades, industrial animal agriculture has benefited from a hands-off approach in nearly every area of the law, at every level of government.”

Animal activists and animal advocacy organizations continue to fight to establish legal rights for farmed and other…

This past school year was a busy one for all things animal law and policy at Vermont Law and Graduate School, and it all started with the launch of a Concentration in Animal Law for JD students. So it’s only fitting that, as we head into a new…

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VLS Animal Law Media Fellow Melanie Kaplan with rescued beagle Hammy. Credit: James Haworth

Thanks to a generous gift from the American Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Animals (…

Marina Bolotnikova is an independent journalist who has written for Vox, The Guardian, The Intercept, The New York Times, and many other publications.
Visitors to the Bronx Zoo look at Happy, a lone Asian elephant in a small, bare enclosure, from an open-air vehicle
Monica Miller JD'12 will appear in court this week to argue that Happy The Elephant should have a fundamental right to liberty and be transferred to a sanctuary.
As legal counsel for Animal Outlook, Will Lowrey JD'17 is standing up for farmed animal welfare in the courtroom and mentoring future animal advocates. One of those is 3L Ashely Monti, who reflects on his work and his recent victory in court.
Photograph of a Bailey Soderberg, brown hair and a brown dress.
Vermont Law School 2L will work on projects aiming to improve legal protections for farmed animals.
A pig in a gestation crate at the Smithfield Foods/Murphy Brown pig breeding facility, Waverly, Virginia, United States
Pork producers have been spuriously asserting that a California law allowing farmed animals room to move their limbs will spell the end of bacon. This blog presents survey data showing that grocery stores, restaurants, foodservice companies, and pork producers are in fact prepared to comply with the law when it goes into effect on January 1.
Delcianna Winders headshot
September 23, 2021
Delcianna ("Delci") Winders, a renowned animal law expert and advocate, joined the Vermont Law School faculty this fall as a visiting associate professor of law and director of the new program. We caught up with VLS's newest environmental law faculty member to learn more about animal law and how students can get involved.
Three Can't-Miss Environmental Law Summer Courses
May 11, 2021
From this summer’s selection of 23 environmental law courses, we asked Associate Dean and Professor Jenny Rushlow to weigh in on the three she’s most excited about.
August 13, 2016
VLS Alum Paige Tomaselli's '04 work for the Center for Food Safety has helped protect animals, the environment and public health, all while fighting "factory farms."​​​​