Veterinary Law with Nancy Halpern


In this week’s episode of the Attorney Talk, Ken Thayer interviews Dr. Nancy Halpern. Dr. Halpern is a registered patent attorney that represents clients in intellectual property and veterinary pharmaceuticals. Nancy also represents animal owners, animal related businesses, veterinarians, animal research facilities, and non profit associations in the support of the interests in the humane use of animals. She is a licensed veterinarian in the state of New Jersey. She has also served as the Director of the Division of Animal Health for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. During the show Nancy and Ken discuss animal law and the changes that animal rights activists are seeking, intellectual property, and the regulatory issues involving animal use in industry and agriculture.


  • Why did you complete law school as well as medical school?
  • Why would the use of animals being eliminated be a concern?
  • What does your law practice consist of?
  • What does the humane use of animals entail?
  • Who are the plaintiffs in some of these cases?
  • Where do you see the future of animal law going?
  • What do you think the biggest misconception about the legal field that people have is?


Dr. Halpern’s Education

  • Nancy saw a need within the State Department of Agriculture. She wanted to help draft regulations dealing with the care of large animals.
  • Having an understanding of both the laws applying to animals and industry and the medical care of animals and given Nancy insight into both worlds.

Animal Rights Activism

  • Our inability to own and use animals would have considerable impact on many industries including food production and medicine.
  • There is a movement to change the status of companion animals from ownership to guardianship.
  • In the eyes of the law, animals are regarded as property.
  • Non-profits have tried to change the law regarding animals to have animals recognized as persons.
  • Many states are proposing an animal abuse registry, where if you have charges brought against you you would be unable to own an animal or work in an animal related industry.

Veterinarian Law

  • Veterinarian malpractice is similar to other areas of the law with similar tort requirements.
  • Veterinarians have been sued but due to the cost of litigation, it’s not very common and you would not generally recoup your costs by doing so.
  • Since the law treats animals as property, you would generally only recoup the monetary value of the pet and the emotional value is mostly unrecognized.
  • Animals do have rights under our laws with regards to cruelty and abuse.

Dr. Halpern’s Law Firm

  • Halpern’s firm is nationwide firm dealing with a variety of services.
  • Nancy is a registered patent attorney that typically deals with IP litigation and defending people’s rights to their intellectual property.
  • She also defends people’s rights to continue to own and use animals humanely like veterinarians.
  • She has represented universities against allegations of animal abuse as well as farms that have to comply with various state laws.
  • Depending on the case and the circumstances, her firm may appear in either state or federal level courts.
  • Animal cruelty cases often involve criminal and civil charges, sometimes simultaneously.
  • The plaintiff in animal cruelty cases is the state instead of a private person.

Animal Law

  • Companion animal law is likely as far as it will go with regards to damages.
  • Non-profits like the HSPCA are trying to change the current laws dealing with animal status under the law to reduce our use of animals within industry and agriculture.
  • Typically, animal cruelty charges at the municipal level are brought in front of judges.
  • Animal law is always evolving and adapting to new situations and technology.

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Dr. Halpern’s phone number: 609-844-7404


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