For many years ISAR has received requests for information about how concerned individuals and humane societies can bring legal action against local animal shelters that are not being run properly. Unfortunately, there are many ways in which shelters can be derelict in their statutory, humane and moral responsibilities to the unfortunate dogs and cats that come into their custody.
As we consistently point out, there are several difficult hurdles “outsiders” have to clear in order to bring such lawsuits, some of them practical (e.g., cost, capable counsel, entrenched political obstacles) and other of them legal (e.g., proof, legal theory, a fair judge).
The greatest problem, however, has always been what lawyers call “standing to sue”—the legal requirement that the lawsuit be brought by the appropriate plaintiff.
In both the federal and state legal systems, not just anyone can start a lawsuit against either a private party or the government. Generally speaking, the person (or entity) who would sue (the plaintiff) must have some connection with the grievance and with whomever the lawsuit is directed against (the defendant). This requirement is the standing to sue requirement.