Mansploitation for the Animal Cause

September 24th, 2009

SeattleImage2image source: The Stranger, Sep 24 – 30, 2009, Vol. 19, No. 3

Ummm…this Seattle alt paper (think Village Voice, left-coast style) takes a page from PETA’s playbook (see here, e.g.) and then flips it, exploiting men’s bods for the animal cause.  That’s not ok, either.

The image is an interesting visual play on an affectionate name for a cat and a (sometimes-not-so-affectionate) name for a woman’s genitalia.  I imagine the guy out in front of a pet store saying, “Look at my ….”

-Bridget Crawford

cross post: Feminist Law Professors

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Dog Fighting in a Day Care Center

Maybe those who maintain that humanity represents the acme of evolution (or even something better) can help explain this.

–David Cassuto

Why do anti-cruelty laws protect companion animals more than non-companion animals?

Most jurisdictions punish animal cruelty more severely if the creature harmed is a “companion animal”. Is it justified to afford more legal protection to companion animals than to non-companion animals? Some would argue that it is not. If what makes non human animals worthy of legal protection is that they are capable of feeling pain, distinguishing between companion and non companion animals for legal purposes appears to be unwarranted. The line should be drawn, the argument would go, between sentient and non-sentient animals rather than between companion and companion animals. Therefore, unjustifiably inflicting pain on a sentient animal should be punished in the same manner regardless of whether the creature harmed is a companion or non companion animal.

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Monkeys, Torture and Tort Law

David Cassuto

monkeyInVivo Therapeutics Corp. recently sued the Oregon Health and Science University, alleging that the rhesus monkeys InVivo purchased were defective.  Apparently, many of the monkeys — which were slated for spinal cord experiments — did not survive the surgery that was supposed to prepare them for their ordeal. InVivo had to abandon its project and is seeking damages.

There is much one could say about this but I choose to focus on the way the story was covered in the Boston Herald.  The lede states that the monkeys had to suffer in the name of medical science but that InVivo did not expect the monkeys to have to suffer more than necessary.  Hence the lawsuit. Continue reading

The Standing Conundrum

Gillian Lyons


One of today’s hottest debates in the field of animal law is the status of animals as property. (For more on one aspect of this property debate- take a look at Gary Francione’s Animals as Property.)  To my mind, one of the most important aspects of this debate is how this current property status can hinder individuals from taking legal action when they see private citizens abusing or neglecting their pets.

Volunteering for an animal law attorney this semester, I’ve come to realize just how complicated this issue is. If you see animal abuse or neglect- can you achieve a legal remedy? The answer is yes- sometimes. Reading Cass Sunstein’s article Can Animals Sue? (in the book Animal Rights edited by Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum) he acknowledges that there are three circumstances where a human can protect animals in the federal court system: when the human seeks information about animal welfare, when the government failure to protect animals inflicts a competitive injury on the human plaintiff and when a human visits or works with an animal that is threatened with illness death or harm. My question is, if you don’t fit neatly into these three categories and you witness animal abuse, can you take legal action? As things currently stand, you can’t- unless the animal is considered your property or you can convince your local government to pursue criminal action (which quite sadly, would be quite difficult in most of the country.) This is because, as things stand, you would be hard pressed to convince a court that you have the injury-in-fact needed for constitutional standing.

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Could the Murder of 32 Dogs be the Key to Tougher Anti-Cruelty Laws in Russia?

Irina Knopp

As a Russian-American, I am familiar with the culture that values expensive furs and leather boots well above the rights of the animals used to make the products.  The furs are a status symbol and an asset.  Leather is used because it’s more durable and reliable, a leftover of the Soviet Era when a month’s salary would buy you a pair of leather boots-if they were in stock. With such a love of animal products and until recently, a surprising disregard for the welfare of animals, it is no wonder that Russia has been notoriously slow to develop anti-animal cruelty legislation, falling far behind the EU and the United States.  However, over the last decade small changes have started setting a trend of animal protection.  For example, in 2007 legislation was put forth to protect small forest animals such as hedgehogs from being hunted or having their habitats deliberately damaged.

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“Pain-Free” Meat?

Jennifer Church

Adam Shriver, a philosopher at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, published an article earlier this month in Neuroethics, contending that cows should be genetically engineered to be unable to feel pain.  Several news articles and blogs have discussed his idea, including Telegraph and Animal Law Online. Playing off of Peter Singer’s classic argument that animals can suffer and therefore humans have a duty to alleviate that suffering, Shriver asserts that humans have an ethical duty to produce these pain-free cows.   He seems to suggest that pain-free cows are guilt-free meat for humans.  Apparently, recent progress in neuroscience and genetic studies could make pain-free cows a real possibility in the near future.  Shriver points to the fact that factory farming and meat consumption has only continued to grow, with no decline foreseeable anytime soon.  If the continuation of factory farming is inevitable, the least we could do is make the cows more comfortable – seems to be his argument.

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