The Seeds of Animal Law


ISAR International Society for Animal Rights
December 2017

The last few decades have seen the birth and exponential growth of a new field of jurisprudence, mostly in the United States, but also elsewhere in the world: Animal Law.

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"Seeds" are defined as "the source, origin, or beginning of anything," giving rise in the context of Animal Law to three important historical questions: What were the seeds, who planted them in the United States, and what have they grown into in service to the cause of animal rights?

Joyce Tischler, attorney, founder, and president of Animal Legal Defense Fund has identified the beginning of Animal Law in America. It was when ISAR and its long-time chairman, Professor Henry Mark Holzer, brought a constitutional challenge against a religious exemption to the federal Humane Slaughter Act. The federal case was entitled - Jones, et al. v. Butz (374 F.Supp. 1284, D.C.N.Y. 1974).

As "the first animal rights lawyer," some forty years ago Professor Henry Mark Holzer first articulated his vision of using the law on behalf of animals at the "First National Conference on Animal Rights Law," organized and sponsored by ISAR and Professor Holzer in 1981.

A major result of the conference was to coalesce the attending lawyers into a loose network of like-minded individuals, and to identify the tools necessary to create an entirely new, discrete field of law--one which would take its deserved place among other long-recognized practice areas such as corporate law, property law, criminal law and many others.

Over the past two decades, Professor Holzer's vision has been almost fully realized.

The seeds that ISAR and Professor Henry Mark Holzer planted have grown.

  • Today, courses in animal law are taught in virtually every major law school in America, usually using books expressly written for that subject.
  • Today, conferences are frequently held for lawyers practicing animal rights law.
  • Today, lawyers draft animal rights legislation, and lobby for their enactment.
  • Today, professional journals devoted solely to animal rights law are published.
  • Today, lawyers litigate animal rights cases in federal and state, and trial and appellate, courts throughout the United States.

ISAR is proud of how its seeds have flourished. From time to time we let our supporters know what new flowers have sprouted in today's jurisprudentially recognized field of Animal Law.

Please visit to read more about the flourishing seeds of animal law.

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