One would not expect to find a progressive animal cruelty law in a state that leads the (un)civilized world in the factory farming of hogs. Yet, North Carolina’s animal protection statute contains a citizen suit provision — which means that private citizens can bring suit against violators of the law. This private right of action (a rarity in the world of animal law) has yielded some noteworthy successes.
Private rights of action do not solve the problem of cruelty nor address the inequalities underlying the human/nonhuman dynamic. But this is true throughout environmental law. Most of the major environmental statutes contain citizen suit provisions even as the laws fail to resolve or even address many of the most urgent issues regarding our relationship with our surroundings. Ultimately, though, there is no question (in my mind, anyway) that it is better to have laws than to not and that it is better to enforce those laws than to not. Citizen suits help enforce laws and thus, despite the imperfections of the current legal regime, it would be nice if we had more of them.
Filed under: animal advocacy, animal cruelty, animal law, animal welfare, environmental law, factory farms | Tagged: animal cruelty, animal ethics, animal law, animal suffering, animal welfare, citizen suits, cruelty laws, environmental advocacy, environmental law, factory farms, industrial farming, North Carolina, private right of action |