A survey of animal law; are animals ‘things’?

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

url“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:

Excerpt: “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.” 

4 Responses

  1. No, animals are not things, they are living breathing beings, like we are. They are loving companions to we humans and they should never be seen as just a “thing”!!!!

  2. As far as I know, Quebec Canada, France and New Zealand recently recognized animals as sentient beings. I would like to know who else is on the list, if anyone?? Marina

  3. Excerpt from “Animals are persons, too” at Earth Island Journal:

    “Switzerland, where animals enjoy greater protections than anywhere in the world, amended its constitution in 1992 to categorize animals as “beings” and not “things.” The Swiss canton of Zurich even has a state-funded public prosecutor for abused pets and farm animals. New Zealand granted basic rights to five great ape species in 1999, forbidding their use in research or teaching. In 2002, Germany amended its constitution to guarantee rights to animals, becoming the first European Union member to do so. The Balearic Islands, a province of Spain, were the first place in the world to grant personhood to great apes in 2007. And in 2008, the Spanish parliament passed a resolution saying great apes should have the right to life and freedom. The EU’s Treaty of Lisbon, which went into effect in 2009, recognizes that animals are “sentient beings,” and requires that all EU policy having to do with the use of animals “pay full regard” to their welfare. Most recently, in 2013, India recognized dolphins as nonhuman persons, banning their captivity for entertainment purposes as a moral violation of their right to life and freedom.”


  4. wonderful, Kathleen!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: