September 11, 2017

New ABA book features discussion on how the law affects pets following a natural disaster

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2017 — What is the legal status of pets or companion animals in the United States today? How is that status evolving? What legal claims does a pet owner have today and what does the future hold? During disasters like hurricanes, numerous animal-related legal issues arise, including what owners, veterinarians, rescue nonprofits and well-intentioned citizens can do with animals.

These are just a few of the questions addressed in a new American Bar Association book, “Pet Law and Custody: Establishing a Worthy and Equitable Jurisprudence for the Evolving Family,” authored by attorney Barbara J. Gislason.

A very useful and well-crafted book for lawyers, “Pet Law and Custody” provides synthesized legal and ethical information on how the law affects pets with pertinent case law analysis. The book takes an in-depth look at the subject of pet custody disputes from many angles. It explains legal topics and considers how cultural perspectives, cognitive biases, and points of view impact negotiations, alternative dispute resolutions and decision-making processes.

The book features a discussion of how ground operations worked following Hurricane Katrina and how the legal decisions that followed were emblematic of the shift in how companion animals are viewed in the legal system.

The book also closely examines the “best-interests-of-the-animal” standard and its application in a mediation setting. Just last month, the state of Illinois passed a law permitting the legislature to award sole or joint ownership of a companion animal, allowing the court to take into consideration the animal’s well-being.

Topics include:

  • Family law and replevin actions
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Estate planning for animals
  • Contract law and the Uniform Commercial Code
  • Property law
  • Tort law affecting pet law
  • Animal cruelty
  • Dangerous dogs
  • Science and bioethics
  • Practical advice for the animal lawyer, including law office basics, handling a legal case and identifying experts
  • Appendices include sample pleadings, agreements, rescue adoption contract, pet custody questionnaire and more

About the Author

Barbara J. Gislason, an international pioneer in the practice area of animal law, is a longtime American Bar Association leader. She practices in the areas of family law, animal law and intellectual property law. Gislason’s animal law caseload ranges from custody and ownership disputes, transactional matters and veterinary malpractice to harassment, dangerous dog proceedings and zoning violations. In family law, she handles custody, child support, spousal maintenance, property and business disputes, and cases involving domestic violence. In intellectual property law, she represents authors, artists, entertainers and businesses.

Title:                            “Pet Law and Custody: Establishing a Worthy and Equitable Jurisprudence for the Evolving Family”
Publisher:                    ABA Publishing/Section of Family Law
Product Code:             5130220
ISBN:                           978-1-63425-892-0
Size:                            702 pages, 7 x 10
Price:                           $ 149.95
Orders:                        800-285-2221 or

Editor’s note: Review copies are available by sending an email to Amelia Stone at  If you publish a review of this book, please send tear sheets or a copy for our files to Amelia Stone, ABA Book Publishing, 321 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654.

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