A survey of animal law; are animals 'things'?
Litigation - Article Series: from All-Creatures.org Articles Archive


Kathleen Stachowski, AnimalBlawg.org
February 2016

These questions are at the center of a Harvard Law School (HLS) course on animal law. First offered in the spring of 2000, it was initially among a handful of its kind; today, more than 150 American law schools offer classes on the topic, a reflection of the growing interest in a young field whose scope and influence are still being defined.

“In this age, in this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions.”
~Abraham Lincoln

Two items of possible interest to readers of this blog:

“Are animals ‘things’? The law evolves” - Harvard Magazine


“As the role of animals in society and the economy has evolved, and more recently, as scientific research has revealed more about animals’ cognitive abilities and social development, public sensibility has changed dramatically, often leaving outmoded law behind. As a result, lawyers worldwide have begun searching for innovative ways to make animals more visible to the law: strengthening and enacting new anti-cruelty statutes, improving basic protections, and, in some more radical cases, challenging animals’ property status itself in an effort to grant them fundamental rights.”

“A Survey of Animal Law in the United States: An overview of laws that should protect animals and the barriers that prevent animals from receiving legal protection.” ~Find the pdf file here; read a summary here.

Excerpt, from the conclusion:

“Legal change rarely comes quickly [and] it is important to remember that the law does not change society, society changes the law.’ The U.S. has experienced a rapid growth in the field of animal law, and the desire of some to end animal suffering has met the barriers of our current legal system. Animal law practitioners are currently creatively using all aspects of the law to address humans’ use and treatment of animals. However, to start addressing the short-comings of the legal protection currently available to animals, public opinion about the way we are using and treating animals must change.”

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