Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare

Dog behind fence

About The Animal Welfare Litigation Program

Together with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, ENRD lawyers are working to ensure that full effect is given to the federal statutes and enforcement regimes that provide for the humane treatment of captive, farmed, and companion animals across the United States. The principal federal agency that ENRD represents in this area is the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Where appropriate, ENRD’s Environmental Crimes Section (ECS) brings criminal prosecutions under these laws against, for example, people who are involved in the illegal blood sport of dog fighting. In these cases, ECS works with investigatory agents from the Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies. ENRD’s Wildlife and Marine Resources Section (WMRS) brings civil judicial enforcement actions that support and complement the administrative enforcement actions taken by the relevant federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. WMRS can also pursue civil remedies, such as civil forfeiture in animal-fighting cases.

ENRD now has Departmental responsibility for affirmative litigation arising from the Nation’s animal protection laws, including:

  • The Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. § 2131, et seq.
  • The Horse Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1821, et seq.
  • The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, 7 U.S.C. § 1901, et seq.
  • The 28-Hour Law, 49 U.S.C. § 80502
  • The Animal Crush Video Statute, 18 U.S.C. § 48
  • The Animal Fighting Venture Prohibition Act, 18 U.S.C. § 49

For an introduction to these laws, see the September 2015 volume of the United States Attorney’s Bulletin.

To make a report:

To report animal fighting crimes, please contact your local law enforcement or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General’s Hotline at: or 1-800-424-9121.  

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