Volume 19, Issue 1 (Fall 2012)
This is one of the fundamental questions that frame the study of animal law: To what extent should nonhuman animals be considered legal persons? Of course, this question presupposes that we share or can arrive at a common and stable conception of legal personhood. In fact, there are a variety of conceptions of legal personhood. This Introduction will explore one in particular and, in the process, question the extent to which simply being born Homo sapiens satisfies the potentially complex and demanding requirements of being a legal person. This argument will lead us to reframe animal law a bit and question whether we protect animals by focusing on their status or whether we are better off focusing on the status of humans—and not so much who we are but who, as legal persons that constitute legalities, we ought to be.
Thomas G. Kelch
This Article, presented in two parts, travels through animal law from ancient Babylonia to the present, analyzing examples of laws from the ancient, medieval, Renaissance and Enlightenment, recent modern, and modern historical periods. In performing this analysis, particular attention is focused on the primary motives and purposes behind these laws. What is discovered is that there has been a historical progression in the primary motives underlying animal laws in these different periods. While economic and religious motives dominate the ancient and medieval periods, in the Renaissance and Enlightenment we see social engineering—efforts to change human behavior—come to the fore. In the recent modern period, we finally see protecting animals for their own sakes, animal protection, motivating animal law. In our present historical period there is a movement towards what is defined as “scientific animal welfare”—the use of modern animal welfare science as the inspiration for animal laws and regulations. Does this historical trend toward use of modern science in making animal law portend a change that may transform our relationship with animals? Modern science tells us that many animals have substantial cognitive abilities and rich emotional lives, and this science would seem to lead us to question the use of animals in agriculture, experimentation, and entertainment altogether. It is ultimately concluded in this Article, however, that so far only a very narrow science of animal welfare is actually being applied in modern animal protection laws and regulations, one that proceeds from a premise that present uses of animals are legally, ethically, and morally appropriate. It is only in the future that the true implications of modern science may ever be translated into legal reality.
The meat processing conglomerates that currently control the majority of the market share in the meatpacking industry are responsible for its most systemic animal abuses. Increased concentration has enabled these larger processors to dictate animal treatment standards maintained by meat producers, most of whom have caved to economic pressure and moved their animals from small farms into Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Animal welfare proponents have failed to adequately challenge the concentration of the meat industry and in 2012 have yet to fully explore strategies made available by the Packers & Stockyards Act of 1921 (PSA). This Article proposes that a coalition between animal welfare activists and small meat producers, who have yet to be absorbed or driven out of business by the meatpacking giants, could effectively attack the concentration of the meat industry. First, animal welfare activists should work with small producers to expose to the public the negative human externalities associated with market concentration, such as intensive farming techniques that directly compromise consumer health. Second, the animal welfare movement should harness its legal experience to encourage small meat producers to pursue PSA-based civil suits aimed at challenging the power of the meatpacking conglomerates.
This Essay is a translation of the author’s original French text. It examines the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights of 1978, which lays out fundamental rights for animals in fourteen articles. This Essay explores the origins of and influences behind the original Declaration, as well as details the changes which were brought to it in a revised version in 1989. It then examines the scope of the Declaration and why it has not had the far-reaching implications its authors once hoped for. Finally, this Essay questions what the Declaration means for the future of animal rights and whether the document will have any lasting impact.
Climate change is quickly transforming habitats. Species in affected regions are facing extinction as they are unable to migrate to suitable environments. This Note discusses assisted migration, the intentional human-assisted movement of imperiled species to suitable habitats outside of their historic range, as an important—though controversial—conservation tool. There are, however, no comprehensive assisted migration regulations in the United States. This Note argues that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) should be the agency to issue regulations regarding assisted migration because FWS already has broad authority under the Endangered Species Act to conserve wildlife. This Note proposes that new regulations should be based upon existing FWS frameworks.
Samantha D.E. Tucker
As society has come to recognize the sentience and intelligence of nonhuman animals, jurisdictions across the United States (U.S.) have promulgated animal protection laws. Despite the development of anti-cruelty statutes, though, states with sentence enhancement mechanisms continue to elevate criminal offenders’ sentences only if they injure human victims. This Note considers the development of anti-cruelty laws and explores how sentencing guidelines, victim injury points, and other sentence enhancement mechanisms function in U.S. criminal justice systems. It examines how multiple states treat victim injury, focusing particularly on Florida where, in October 2011, a Florida Assistant State Attorney—in what was likely the first attempt of its kind—sought to score victim injury points against an offender who brutally stabbed a dog. By looking at legislative intent, and other persuasive authority, this Note argues that courts can and should enhance the sentences of offenders who victimize animals. It contends that legislatures should clear up any statutory ambiguity by making it explicitly clear that the criminal justice system should treat animals as victims. Using history and current trends for support, this Note argues that we should award the same number of victim injury points for animals as people. It also looks at several other facets of practical application, such as which animals would qualify as victims for the purpose of victim injury points and how we can make animal victims and victim injury points a priority in the criminal justice system.
Kaitlin M. Wojnar
Controversy surrounding application of the Shark & Fishery Conservation Act of 2010 (Shark Conservation Act) reflects a culmination of competing interests between environmental conservation and international free trade. Non-governmental organizations are pressuring the United States (U.S.) government to use the Shark Conservation Act to impose trade sanctions against countries that do not have specific regulations on shark finning. The implementation of such import bans, however, could negatively impact the nation’s relationships with some of its principal trade partners and violate international obligations under multilateral trade treaties. This Note proposes that the U.S. cannot impose such an embargo on shark products without first laying a foundation for its actions in international custom or treaty.