Non-profit

Animal Legal Defense Fund

Logo of Animal Legal Defense Fund (link)
Website:

aldf.org

Location:

COTATI, CA

Tax ID:

94-2681680

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $12,751,761
Expenses: $12,487,558
Assets: $12,417,843

Type:

Animal Rights Litigation Group

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is a left-of-center litigation group associated with the animal rights and animal liberation movements. The group sues on behalf of animals with the aim of securing formalized civil rights for non-humans. The ALDF was founded in 1979. [1]

The group also advocates for federal and state legislation that would grant animals legal standing to sue in court as individuals and require courts to consider the animal’s wellbeing in a divorce settlement regarding who gets “custody” of the pet. [2] It also staunchly opposes laws permitting hunting[3] and lobbies to restrict and ultimately eliminate animal agriculture. [4][5] As an internal policy, the organization does not allow products made in whole or in part from an animal into its office, or for staff lunches, meetings or official outings. [6]

The ALDF provides free legal assistance in animal cruelty cases. [7] The organization has also established ALDF student chapters at colleges and universities. [8]

Advocacy and Training

The organization lobbied legislatures in Alaska and Illinois to pass laws regarding the animal’s interest in a “custody” battle after a divorce. [9] Tony Eliseuson, a senior staff attorney at the ALDF told The New Republic that the custody laws have “formally recognized the sentient interests of companion animals and given the power to the court to put the rights and interests of animals ahead of their guardians.” The magazine placed this in the context of a European Union law that recognizes animals as “sentient beings,” with individual rights. [10]

The organization opposed and sued over the Wisconsin’s 2015 Right to Hunt Act that curbed harassment of hunters, as well as actions to impair a hunter’s line of sight, taking video or antagonizing a hunter. The ALDF claimed the law violated the First Amendment. [11]

The ALDF has teamed with the Lewis & Clark Law School to host the annual Animal Law Conference that started in 1982. [12]

The ALDF teamed with Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, Environmental Law Institute, and Center for Animal Law Studies to oppose lab testing using animals. [13]

The organization also provides training to local prosecutors on how animal protection laws should be enforced. [14] The ALDF teamed with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the National District Attorneys Association to create another group, the National Center for Prosecution of Animal Abuse. [15]

The ALDF further leads an accredited training program for animal control officers and other law enforcement, as well as veterinarians. [16]

Litigation

In 2017, the ALDF petitioned a federal court on whether a tiger named Tony was an individual. The tiger, which died three months after the lawsuit was filed, lived in a cage at a Louisiana truck stop. The ALDF made the argument as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. FOIA can be expedited if delaying the release posed a threat to the “the life or physical safety of an individual.” The ADLF extrapolated that if animals were individuals under the law, they could also have the same privilege if their lives are in danger. [17]

The organization also litigated against state laws struck down that prohibited activist from misrepresenting themselves to access farms in order to secretly film what happens. The organization has won suits to strike down the laws on First Amendment grounds. [18]

The ALDF sued the federal government in October 2019 after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service announced new rules for enforcement of the Endangered Species Act. The new rules allowed for “delisting” animals that were no longer in danger of extinction, and also allowed government agencies to consider the economic impact of adding a species to the list. [19]

ALDF sued to stop the Trump administration from constructing a wall along the southern border. The dispute is based on a challenge to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which allows the Department of Homeland Security to waive laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act to enforce border protection. Other plaintiffs in the case who joined ALDF are the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Southwest Environmental Center. [20]

The ALDF also sued on behalf of an Oregon horse in an animal cruelty case, with the goal of establishing a precedent allowing animals to go to court. Matthew Liebman, director of litigation for the ALDF, told the Washington Post, “There have been a lot of efforts to try to get animals not only to be protected but to have the right to go to court when their rights are violated.” [21]

Co-Founders

Joyce Tischler and Laurence Kessenick, who were both in private law practices in San Francisco, founded Attorneys for Animal Rights in 1979. In 1984, the organization changed its name to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. [22]

Another co-founder is Roger Galvin prosecuted a high-profile case about cruelty to a monkey in Silver Springs, Maryland while serving as a Maryland assistant state’s attorney. He secured a guilty verdict on one charge of an 11-count indictment, but the conviction was overturned. Galvin resigned his position as a state prosecutor in Maryland and helped co-found the ALDF in California. [23]

References

  1. Animal Legal Defense Fund. Idealist. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://www.idealist.org/en/nonprofit/99da3d375fdc4c249175fcc5074fdd0e-animal-legal-defense-fund-cotati ^
  2. Monyak, Suzanne. “When the Law Recognizes Animals as People.” The New Republic. February 2, 2018. Accessed July 20, 2020. https://newrepublic.com/article/146870/law-recognizes-animals-people ^
  3. American Hunter Staff. “Extremists Sue Wisconsin Over New Hunter Harassment Laws.” American Hunter. September 21, 2017. Accessed July 20, 2020. https://www.americanhunter.org/articles/2017/9/21/extremists-sue-wisconsin-over-new-hunter-harassment-laws/ ^
  4. Animal Legal Defense Fund. Protect the Harvest. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://protecttheharvest.com/what-you-need-to-know/overview-of-animal-rights-organizations/animal-legal-defense-fund/ ^
  5. Animal Legal Defense Fund. Protect the Harvest. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://protecttheharvest.com/what-you-need-to-know/overview-of-animal-rights-organizations/animal-legal-defense-fund/ ^
  6. Animal Legal Defense Fund. Protect the Harvest. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://protecttheharvest.com/what-you-need-to-know/overview-of-animal-rights-organizations/animal-legal-defense-fund/ ^
  7. About Us. ALDF. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://aldf.org/about-us/ ^
  8. About Us. ALDF. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://aldf.org/about-us/ ^
  9. Monyak, Suzanne. “When the Law Recognizes Animals as People.” The New Republic. February 2, 2018. Accessed July 20, 2020. https://newrepublic.com/article/146870/law-recognizes-animals-people ^
  10. Monyak, Suzanne. “When the Law Recognizes Animals as People.” The New Republic. February 2, 2018. Accessed July 20, 2020. https://newrepublic.com/article/146870/law-recognizes-animals-people ^
  11. “Challenging Wisconsin’s Hunting Statute as a First Amendment Violation.” Animal Legal Defense Fund, May 29, 2020. https://aldf.org/case/challenging-wisconsins-hunting-statute-as-a-first-amendment-violation/. ^
  12. Animal Law Conference. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://www.animallawconference.org/ ^
  13. Animal Legal Defense Fund. Protect the Harvest. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://protecttheharvest.com/what-you-need-to-know/overview-of-animal-rights-organizations/animal-legal-defense-fund/ ^
  14. Animal Legal Defense Fund. Protect the Harvest. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://protecttheharvest.com/what-you-need-to-know/overview-of-animal-rights-organizations/animal-legal-defense-fund/ ^
  15. Animal Legal Defense Fund. Protect the Harvest. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://protecttheharvest.com/what-you-need-to-know/overview-of-animal-rights-organizations/animal-legal-defense-fund/ ^
  16. Criminal Justice. ALDF. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://aldf.org/how_we_work/criminal-justice/ ^
  17. Monyak, Suzanne. “When the Law Recognizes Animals as People.” The New Republic. February 2, 2018. Accessed July 20, 2020. https://newrepublic.com/article/146870/law-recognizes-animals-people ^
  18. Stossel, John. “Laws Shouldn’t Gag Activists’ Investigations.” New Hampshire Union-Leader. July 19, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2020. https://www.unionleader.com/opinion/columnists/john-stossel-laws-shouldnt-gag-activists-investigations/article_79af0cc4-d273-5552-9ae0-8315614fe32a.html ^
  19. ALDF. “Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Lawsuits to Protect the Endangered Species Act.” YubaNet.com. October 22, 2019. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://yubanet.com/usa/animal-legal-defense-fund-files-lawsuit-to-protect-the-endangered-species-act/ ^
  20. Gilmer, Ellen. “Trump Lawyers Urge Supreme Court to Reject Border Wall Case.” Bloomberg Law. May 21, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2020. https://news.bloomberglaw.com/environment-and-energy/trump-lawyers-urge-supreme-court-to-reject-border-wall-case ^
  21. Brulliard, Karin. “A Horse Was Neglected by its Owner. Now the Horse is Suing.” The Washington Post August 17, 2018. Accessed July 20, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/national/wp/2018/08/13/feature/a-horse-was-neglected-by-its-owner-now-the-horse-is-suing/ ^
  22. Joyce Tischler. Animal Legal Defense Fund. Accessed July 20, 2020. https://aldf.org/person/joyce-tischler/ ^
  23. Roger Galvin. Activist Facts. Accessed July 20, 2020. https://activistfacts.com/person/1510-roger-galvin/ ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1980

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $12,751,761 $12,487,558 $12,417,843 $523,233 N $12,561,936 $36,282 $101,228 $347,747 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $17,783,496 $12,847,750 $17,104,813 $753,302 N $17,462,839 $89,527 $100,149 $329,931 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $11,423,195 $11,532,480 $12,493,997 $709,304 Y $11,243,799 $32,965 $77,324 $291,545 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $13,404,636 $8,844,061 $13,574,764 $1,592,485 Y $13,221,733 $650 $119,772 $281,285 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $8,504,512 $7,552,896 $8,771,029 $1,536,551 Y $8,293,474 $54,720 $80,432 $253,121 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $5,936,815 $5,874,168 $6,835,778 $859,629 N $5,759,329 $0 $106,442 $117,500 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $5,683,874 $5,391,403 $6,553,626 $781,643 N $5,481,293 $0 $104,277 $109,101 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Animal Legal Defense Fund

    525 E COTATI AVE
    COTATI, CA 94931-4091