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Expert Witness in
Legal Cases

Dr. Rebecca Ledger is an expert in animal behaviour and welfare, who is regularly retained by humane societies, pet owners, and legal professionals in legal cases involving animals. Dr. Ledger:

  • Has been retained in over 200 legal cases involving many animal species, including dogs, cats, horses, farm animals, laboratory animals, and wildlife.

  • Has been qualified as an Expert Witness in Human Rights, the Provincial and Supreme Courts, and the Queen's Bench.

  • Provides expert opinions in legal cases involving animal cruelty, dog aggression, animal welfare and animal behaviour.

  • Remains impartial and unbiased while assisting the trier of fact.

  • Pioneered the use of behavioural evidence in court cases, using the Five Domains Model to assess animal suffering.


An Expert Witness in animal behaviour and animal welfare provides an opinion in legal cases involving animals, based on information that they have personally observed, or information that was provided by others.

An Expert Witness's role is to assist the ‘trier of fact’, whether this be a Court, an Arbitrator, an Appeal Board, or a Jury. Experts should not advocate for either party. An expert’s duty is to be independent, impartial, and unbiased.

Who needs an Expert Witness in
Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare?

Experts in animal behaviour and animal welfare are frequently called on in legal cases.

Examples of situations when an expert may be required are:

  • Legal Counsel

    • Dealing with ‘dangerous dog’ cases

    • Dealing with cases involving animal cruelty (any species)

  • Owners
    • Of dogs who are appealing ‘dangerous' or 'aggressive dog’ designations
    • ​Who are appealing the seizure of their animals (any species)

  • Animal protection agencies and Police

    • Seeking to obtain warrants, seize animals or prosecute individuals for animal cruelty

  • Individuals

    • Who have been accused of cruelty to animals

    • Individuals involved in pet custody disputes

  • Individuals or organizations

    • Involved in private prosecutions for animal cruelty

    • Involved in Human Rights complaints involving animals

  • Policymakers and advocacy groups

    • Looking to involve experts in the development of guidelines, Codes and legislation regarding animals

  • Individuals, insurance companies and legal counsel

    • ​Involved in civil litigation

Who Can Act as an Expert Witness in
Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare?

When qualifying someone to act as an Expert Witness, the Court may seek the following information:

  • Does the Expert Witness have professional qualifications?

  • Is the Expert Witness a member of any professional associations related to the proposed evidence?

  • Has the Expert Witness:

    • Given expert evidence before?

    • Any qualifications, such as a Master's Degree or a PhD?

    • Attended additional courses and seminars on the subject?

    • Taught about the subject?

    • Published about the subject in peer-reviewed journals?

    • Kept up with changes in the field?

  • How long has the Expert Witness:

    • Been involved with the subject at issue?

    • Worked in the field at issue?

Retaining Dr. Ledger

Dr. Rebecca Ledger has been retained on more than 200 legal cases involving a broad range of animal species (including cats, dogs, horses, cattle, pigs, squirrels, various rodent species, tigers and lizards) in Canada, and internationally.


She has been qualified as an Expert Witness in Provincial and Supreme Courts, and the Queen’s Bench, by the defence, the prosecution, and often as a ‘Single Joint Expert’. As a result, Dr Ledger has:

  • Assisted Courts in Canada to establish much science-based case law regarding dangerous dogs.

  • Pioneered the use of the Five Domains Model in animal cruelty cases, whereby using behavioural evidence, the determination of ‘suffering’ under the Criminal Code has now been expanded to include various forms of emotional distress, often in the absence of any physical evidence.

  • Published: Ledger RA, Mellor DJ. Forensic use of the Five Domains Model for assessing suffering in cases of animal cruelty. Animals. 2018;8(7):E101. Download it here.

  • Testified regarding how severely an animal has suffered, using science-based and peer-reviewed frameworks. This information un particular, can help Courts to determine sentencing outcomes.

  • Assisted Courts in Canada to decide on issues of liability in civil cases involving animals.

  • Provided evidence to the Canadian government on matters that have shaped Federal animal welfare legislation.

Contact Animal Behaviour & Welfare Consulting

If you would like to discuss the possibility of retaining Dr Ledger for an opinion in your legal matter, please get in touch by completing the form below. We will then set up an initial 1 hour online meeting (rates apply) to explore whether Dr Ledger is the expert that you need.


Note: Dr Rebecca Ledger is not a lawyer and cannot provide legal advice. If you are a defendant, respondent or appellant, it is recommended that you consider retaining legal representation prior to speaking with Dr Ledger.

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