About DU's Animal Law Program
The DU Animal Law Program is the only animal law program in the Rocky Mountain Region of the United States. By collaborating with other programs across the country, and local and national attorneys, we seek to educate the next generation of attorneys who want to protect the interests and well-being of non-human animals. We provide educational and hands-on opportunities to engage with the legal and moral issues surrounding the use of animals for food, entertainment, experimentation, and fashion.
Formally launched in 2021, the DU Animal Law Program is founded on a commitment to three ideals. First, the law does not adequately protect the lives, interests, and needs of animals. Despite a growing body of work documenting the sentience, cognition, and autonomy of animals, non-humans are routinely killed or harmed unnecessarily. Second, we believe that attorneys and the law have an important role to play in protecting animals and facilitating a pro-animal social change agenda. Third, we believe academics and research should create space to challenge all our assumptions about society and the law’s intersection with animals. The creation and dissemination of quality research should catalyze changes in law and policy in the service of protecting animals.
The DU Animal Law Program is also listed as one of Kaplan's Top 10 Law Schools for Animal Law.
The DU Animal Law Program is committed to educating the next generation of animal law advocates, and in turn, for those advocates to enhance animal protection in the United States and around the world for generations to come
University of Denver Animal Legal Defense Fund
DU also has a robust Student Chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. It educates the DU community about forms of institutionalized animal abuse, understands how the law can be used to combat animal abuse, and supports the larger Denver community in its efforts to improve animal welfare.
For more information see DU ALDF
Media & Press
Denver Law Students Join the ASPCA to Advocate for Animal Welfare Laws in Colorado
The Sturm College of Law recently collaborated with the ASPCA Government Relations team for a two-part legislative advocacy event.
On February 10, we co-hosted a luncheon presentation, where the ASPCA and special guests First Gentleman Marlon Reis, Rep. Valdez and Rep. Bird, discussed animal welfare laws in Colorado, how the legislative process works, and how students can get involved. We had a tremendous turnout with a number of students excited to get involved and eager to learn more about career paths in animal welfare.
As an extension of the collaboration, on February 16 a small group of seven Denver Law students joined the ASPCA at the Colorado State Capitol for a lobby day, where students sat in on a live hearing, met with several legislators, and had the privilege of chatting with First Gentleman Marlon Reis and Colorado Governor Jared Polis. The also listened in on a Colorado Legislative Animal Welfare (CLAW) Caucus meeting where the ASPCA introduced their policy work.
We look forward to our continued collaboration with the ASPCA to continue driving awareness and engagement in animal welfare legislation in Colorado!
Animal Rights Issues
An Evolving Topic Podcast
Humans are animals—animals with rights. So what kinds of rights do non-human animals deserve? The right to liberty? The right to nurse their young? The right to socialize?
In this podcast, animal rights experts Sarah Schindler and Steve Wise are interviewed about chimps, cats, and personhood. They discuss common law, Jurassic Park, Ancient Rome, Woolly mammoths, and the Animal Welfare Act of 1966.
What Happy the Elephant’s Legal Case Tells Us About the Future of Animal Rights
Justin Marceau and Angela Fernandez discuss how Happy became the first animal to have a case for animal rights decided by a court of last resort in North America. New York's highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, unequivocally recognized that "elephants are intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion" and noted that under existing law "they are not the equivalent of 'things' or 'objects.'"
Factory Farming News
An Animal Rights Activist was in Court on Criminal Charges. Why was the Case Suddenly Dismissed?
"Matt’s investigation of ventilation shutdown is probably the most important [factory farm] investigation in more than a decade,” said Justin Marceau.
Animal Rights Activists Rescued Two Piglets From Slaughter. They Wanted to Get Caught.
"Major institutions like the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States pushed to criminalize discrete animal abuse while generally leaving 'the capitalist structures that were pushing animal exploitation' unconfronted," said Justin Marceau.
Why the Anti-Factory Farming Movement Needs Direct Action
By breaking unjust laws, activists want to confront a jury of regular citizens with the question: “Is it really right to send someone to prison for saving a suffering animal?” This is hard to do when regressive judges suppress evidence of animal cruelty, but as animal law scholar Justin Marceau asserts, it only takes one judge ruling a different way to start to change that.
Five Things to Know About the SCOTUS Challenge to California’s Ban on Extreme Farm Animal Confinement
"Given that a strong case can (and will through amicus briefs) be made that animal welfare is an extremely substantial interest, it would seem under existing law that the law would be upheld," Justin Marceau from the University of Denver said. But that's if the court adheres to the established doctrine on interstate commerce, which he called "a big if."
University of Denver Magazine Articles
Animal Law Program
At DU’s Sturm College of Law, a new program trains a lens on animal rights.
After years of service to the DU and Denver communities, Philip Tedeschi's companion and coworker, Samara, is retiring. Over the years, she’s helped build bridges with people experiencing homelessness, and she’s created a safe space for people recovering from trauma.
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Animal Law Program
Banner photo and page photo credit: We Animals Media