Volume 24, Issue 2 (2018)


Jessica Rubin, Desmond’s Law: A Novel Approach to Animal Advocacy

In May of 2016, the Connecticut Legislature passed Public Law 16-30, informally called Desmond’s Law. This law allows courts to appoint supervised law students or volunteer lawyers to advocate for the interests of justice in animal cruelty cases. Under Desmond’s Law’s novel approach to animal cruelty cases—advocates support the prosecution and sentencing of individuals charged with animal cruelty offenses and promote enforcement of historically under-utilized anti-cruelty laws.

Based upon the author’s personal experience conceiving and implementing Desmond’s Law, this Article aims to aid legislators, judges, and advocates in creating legislation modeled on Connecticut’s Desmond’s Law. This Article also aims to support the implementation of legislation modeled on Desmond’s Law by providing guidance for the creation of animal advocacy programs within law schools.

This Article is the first of two articles about Desmond’s Law. A second article will evaluate its successes and limitations. The second article will also present data analyzing use of the law, impact of the law on outcomes in cruelty cases, and significance of the law on broader criminal justice issues.


Sea Shepherd Legal, The Endangered Species Act As Applied to Captive Animals: Sea Shepherd Legal’s Amicus Brief in PETA v. Miami Seaquarium

This Article contains Sea Shepherd Legal’s (SSL) amicus brief in the matter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Miami Seaquarium, an ongoing litigation concerning the captive orca known as “Lolita.” SSL filed this brief for two reasons. First, the conditions under which Lolita is held are at once particularly illegal and immoral. Lolita’s conditions of captivity violate both the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), all while imposing continuous harm on a highly intelligent being in the name of entertainment. Second, the decision in this case frustrates the logic of the underlying laws. Captive members of an ESA-listed species occupy a unique position within the regulatory landscape. Unlike “regular” captive animals covered by the AWA alone, captive members of an ESA-listed species enjoy an extra set of protections courtesy of the ESA. So far, the Miami Seaquarium courts have failed to grasp this basic point.


Heather D. Rally, Donald C. Baur & Matthew McFeeley, Looking Behind the Curtain: Achieving Disclosure of Medical and Scientific Information for Cetaceans in Captivity Through Voluntary Compliance and Federal Enforcement

In recent years, increasing concern has emerged within the general public and scientific communities over the detrimental effects of captive maintenance on the health and welfare of cetaceans. There is widespread agreement that the medical records of cetaceans held in captivity are a source of important information that can shed light on the animal health impacts of certain captive conditions, as well as on diseases and environmental threats to cetaceans in the wild. Despite the value of such records to advancing animal husbandry, animal welfare, and wildlife conservation, the medical and behavioral records of cetaceans held in captivity are routinely withheld from the public and the greater scientific community by the facilities that hold these animals captive. Absent voluntary compliance by the captive display industry, there remain legal avenues to bring about transparency and disclosure of medical and behavioral records through enforcement of permit conditions included in the public display permits issued under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) prior to 1994 and under the regulations for marine mammal care and maintenance under the Animal
Welfare Act. Amendments to MMPA in 1994 to limit MMPA jurisdiction, in most respects, to animals in the wild did not apply retroactively to permits issued before that date. Therefore, the medical requirements of pre-1994 MMPA permits remain in effect and generally also apply to the progeny of permitted animals. The National Marine Fisheries Service, however, denies it has authority to seek voluntary industry compliance or undertake permit enforcement. Furthermore, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which has express authority to collect medical or necropsy records under the Animal Welfare Act regulations, has not obtained these documents for agency review or public access. The failure of both agencies to act denies interested parties the ability to review information that could improve the health and wellbeing of cetaceans in captivity and in the wild, as well as help to inform public opinion about the ethical implications of maintaining cetaceans in captivity.



Will Lowrey, “We the Pit Bulls”: The Fate of ‘Pit Bulls’ Under the United States Constitution

Across the United States, thousands of pit bull type- dogs are legally discriminated against by laws that punish them based solely on their appearance. For over three decades, dozens of towns and cities across the country have overwhelmingly blamed dog bites and public safety concerns on one particular type of dog. These laws take various forms, from complete bans to public muzzling to fencing requirements, but all invariably subject pit bull-type dogs to conditions and requirements not imposed on most other breeds. Through dozens of legal challenges, advocates for pit bull-type dogs have attempted to use the Constitution to attack the validity of these laws. Virtually all of these challenges have failed and many of the accompanying court opinions read as a sensationalized editorial against these animals. The Constitution is no friend to pit bulls. Despite these setbacks, advocates have sought other avenues to mitigate dog bites and reduce the stigma around pit bulls, including education, outreach, and proactive legislation. First, the Note explores the historical, legal precedents that paved the way for breed-specific legislation – a pair of Supreme Court cases establishing dogs as property, subject to the police powers of the state. Next, the Note explores the origins and types of breed-specific legislation most prevalent in the United States. Then the Note examines a wide array of mostly unsuccessful constitutional challenges brought to overturn this legislation,
including examination of over twenty cases from all across the county. Finally, the Note explores true correlation between dog bites and breed specific legislation and highlights future avenues for advocates seeking to stem the tide of breed discrimination.


Jennifer Davidson, Justice for All?: The Shortcomings and Potentials of the Capabilities Approach for Protecting Animals

In her book, Frontiers of Justice, Martha Nussbaum sets out to build upon, and re-envision, John Rawls’ theory of justice. Her goal is to establish a conception of justice that extends to three classes that are not adequately captured in Rawls’ work: people with disabilities, people living in different countries, and nonhuman animals. This Note takes on the last of those three extensions, nonhuman animals. Part I presents a brief overview of the major scholarly approaches to conceptualizing animal rights. Part II lays out the capabilities approach in detail, focusing particularly on its application to nonhuman animals. Part III analyzes the areas in which Nussbaum creates inconsistencies that weaken both her theory’s capacity to extend justice to animals and its overall logical soundness. Finally, Part IV presents two key entitlements, the right not to be used solely for human benefit and the right not be used for profit, that create a stronger, more comprehensive approach to including animals within a framework of justice.


Vanessa Hemenway, The Wages of Blood

Slaughterhouse workers are largely overlooked by both the animal law community as well as the legal protections supplied by statutes addressing the humane treatment of animals. Like the traumatic ordeals of war, slaughterhouse workers undergo physical, psychological, and emotional injuries akin to soldiers on the front line. The few statutes that cover workers’ injuries in the exercise of their position at the slaughterhouse focus mostly on the physical. While slaughterhouse workers have one of the highest injury rates of any job, the state workers’ compensation statutes fail to address the debilitating and desensitizing emotional effect of animal slaughter. Nonetheless, the law has progressed in such a way as to provide slaughterhouse workers with numerous legal remedies to address the emotional injuries that are an inherent result of the bloody career.

This Note seeks to identify the various legal avenues slaughterhouse workers may utilize in remedying the emotional trauma caused by their work. This Note first addresses the physical, emotional, and psychological toll that slaughterhouse workers undergo within the United States based on the annual number of animals slaughtered and first-hand accounts by slaughterhouse workers. This examination further illustrates the similarity between slaughterhouse workers’ day-to-day experiences and those who develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from violent events. Next, the Note discusses the potential legal remedies supplied to slaughterhouse workers for their emotional injuries. It identifies how states like Arkansas, Minnesota, and Nebraska require any claim for emotional injury to be connected to a physical injury for it to be compensable under each state’s workers’ compensation statutes. However, states like California and Colorado have allowed emotional injuries to be compensable even when unaccompanied with a physical injury. Lastly, the Note speaks to the possibility of Perpetration-Induced Stress Disorder, a stress disorder like PTSD developed in perpetrators who inflict violence on others, potentially providing slaughterhouse workers with legal remedies in the future.



Samuel Pope, 2017 Federal Legislative Review

Adrienne Craig, 2017 State Legislative Review

Ashlyn Whitbeck, 2017 International Review