Has your web site been threatened with a lawsuit or injunction to silence you or get you shut down? Contact this amazing organization Public Citizen. They have defended numerous web sites and WON. Please make a donation to them to continue their efforts. See www.publiccitizen.org 


Do you suspect your pet died as a result of an unauthorized procedure by a vet? Read A Major Victory for Animal Guardians posted at the Animal Legal Defense Fund site. 


The Court of Appeals for the State of Washington released a ­published opinion in an important case brought by ALDF member and animal lawyer Adam Karp, and in which ALDF attorneys filed an amicus brief. The case, Sherman v. Kissinger, No. 60137-7-1 (Wash. Ct. App. Sept. 29, 2008), stemmed from the death of Ruby, a toy poodle, following an unauthorized procedure by her veterinarian.  Represented by Karp, Ruby’s guardian Arlene Sherman sued the vet and the hospital, bringing claims for professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation, conversion, trespass to chattels, breach of bailment contract, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. more

"As interest in animal law grows, so too do malpractice cases against vets"

Article in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, May 19, 2008 offers hope for victims on the animal law front  - Massachusetts Bar Association's newly formed Animal Law Practice Group holds inaugural meeting last month

"It's growing at a huge pace, faster than probably any other field of law right now," [attorney Jonathan S.] Rankin says. "We're really on the cusp of something."    

 [Rankin says:] "This whole claim that insurance will go up and affect cost of care, I think that's just ridiculous and totally self-serving.... As the state of the law is now, there really is no consequence to screwing up." 

Among the highlights:

One bill currently pending would add a clause about "failing to provide veterinary care" to the animal cruelty statute; another would authorize pet owners to claim emotional-distress damages on behalf of themselves and their animals, which, if passed, would alter the traditional legal status of animals as property. 

"I say that although companion animals are property, they are a unique kind of property in that it involves a bilateral relationship," [animal law attorney Stephen] Wise says. "So, when a veterinarian commits malpractice, the vet destroys that relationship, and that is what [the owner] should be compensated for."

One such attorney is Jonathan S. Rankin of Framingham, who started one of the state's few animal-law firms last fall. Before becoming a lawyer, Rankin worked as an investigator for the Humane Society of the United States and studied with Wise.

Rankin says that in the seven months he has been in practice, 60 percent of his cases have been veterinary-malpractice cases. "Most of the people who come for advice are seeking advice about vet-mal cases," he explains.


[Rankin says:] "The reason I bring these cases is that I think it makes the industry stronger. It weeds out the people who might not really be qualified. This whole claim that insurance will go up and affect cost of care, I think that's just ridiculous and totally self-serving. The point is [to] be a better doctor. As the state of the law is now, there really is no consequence to screwing up."


Rankin isn't waiting for legislation to introduce that accountability. In one of his cases, Rankin is introducing an emotional distress claim on behalf of the animal itself.

"This particular animal suffered for several weeks based on a misdiagnosis," says Rankin, who has requested that the judge allow him to include in the complaint a claim for "the pain and suffering of the animal."


Linda Breitman, a Westborough veterinarian who works as an expert consultant on many of Rankin's cases, believes an increase in veterinary-malpractice litigation is a good thing.

 "Litigation should not be overly onerous to a vet, and not everybody that thinks they have a case has a case," she notes. But overall, she says, judiciously chosen veterinary malpractice cases "will make the profession better."


A vet running a predominantly small-animal practice can purchase a $1 million insurance policy from the trust for $364 per year. Considering that doctors can spend more than $100,000 on medical-malpractice insurance annually, that figure is astonishingly low.


When reached for comment, representatives of AVMA declined to comment on the impact of veterinary malpractice cases, disputing claims that vet malpractice claims are increasing in number at all.  


  Legal News

Local combines love of law, animals to publish book, The Natchez Democrat, March 3, 2007

Publisher's Dog Sues Vet in Kentucky, Editor and Publisher, July 18, 2005

Discipline of Animal Care Providers Hampered by Court Decision, toledoblade.com, August 1, 2005

Now Pets Really Are Part of the Family Thanks to U.S. Paw Laws, news.telegraph.co.uk, June 26, 2005

Courts Warm Up to Pet Owners' Suits, law.com, July 21, 2003

Animals Win Legal Recognition in Switzerland  

Swiss pets will soon no longer be defined as “goods” or “objects” after parliament voted to grant them improved legal status.

Are you an attorney whose firm handles veterinary malpractice cases? We are compiling a database of animal law attorneys nationwide who are willing to consult with complainants. Many people are looking for attorneys in their states to take their cases against vets who either escaped accountability at the state board level or whose actions were so egregiously negligent, incompetent, and abusive that they are seeking justice in civil court. If you are an attorney and willing to help, please contact me at Legal Resources 

More legal resources


Legal Centers, Law Schools, Organizations

National Center for Animal Law, Lewis & Clark Law School, Portland, OR

Animal Rights Law Project: Rutgers University School of Law

Animal Legal & Historical Center, Michigan State University, DCL College of Law

Veterinary Malpractice Lawsuits, Animal Legal & Historical Center, Michigan State University

Veterinary Malpractice, Animal Legal & Historical Center, Michigan State University

Animal Law Web Center, Michigan State University College of Law

Suffolk University Law School, Animal Law: A Guide to Federal and Massachusetts Resources

Animal Legal Defense Fund aldf.org


What Is Pet Law?

Vegetarian Visionary: A Modern Day Dr. Doolittle

Growing Trend of Pet Law Gives Animals Their Day in Court

Pets, Owners Get Their Day in Court

Game Show Host Bob Barker Donates $1M to Duke

Barker Helps Fund Animal Rights Law Program

Harvard Law School Receives Gift to Fund Animal Rights Law

Animallaw.com: More links to Animal Law Resources



Animal Legal Defense Fund

The Animal Rights Law Office

The Animal Law Office

Foley and Honigmann (Illinois)

The Texas Humane Legislative Network, has a list of attorneys in Texas who may be willing to take animal cases

Law Office of Kelly M. Heitkamp (Texas)



Petabuse.com Key in the word "veterinarian" in the search box to find veterinarians arrested and/or convicted of animal cruelty or those with a record of disciplinary action. 

When You Suspect Malpractice,  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

Veterinary Malpractice Is Common This is a group of professionals that provides help to California victims of veterinary malpractice by offering an informal evaluation of the evidence.

Caution When Choosing a Vet



Lawsuit against Florida web site owner fails

www.dentalfraudinflorida.com - Woman in Florida exposes system that cleared dentists

    From article in law.com

    "[Paul] Levy's co-counsel, James K. Green of West Palm Beach, claimed the dentists were relying on an unconstitutional confidentiality law. "I've gotten 10 gag laws declared unconstitutional," he said. "For some reason, Florida has this history of trying to gag complaints about all sorts of people -- public officials, police officers and others."