"For literally thousands of years animals have been part of personal property," says David Favre, a law professor and animal law specialist at Michigan State University, "but in the past five years we're seeing courts take a broader view that animals are not like televisions and computers, that our relationship with them is more complex than that."
At the same time, the field of animal law is growing. Nearly half of the 190 accredited law schools in the United States now offer animal law courses, up from a handful 10 years ago, and around 100 now have chapters of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. A rising number of lawyers are dedicating themselves, in whole or in part, to the practice, and the American Bar Association and 13 state bar associations now have animal law committees.
For the most part, the lawyers arguing these new sorts of cases avoid the language of animal rights. In the eyes of the law, only people have rights, and even many animal lawyers are unwilling to dissolve the boundary between animal and person. Instead, many argue that animals should be something intermediate, a form of sentient property.
Still, a few animal lawyers see the evolution in the law paving the way to a more fundamental rethinking of the legal status of what they call, to emphasize our own connection to the animal world, "nonhuman animals."
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
More on animal law...
Yet another article, appearing in the International Hearald Tribune and credited to a reporter with the Boston Globe, is available here on the rapidly expanding field of animal law. Here's a choice blurb from the article featuring a quote from professor David Favre, but I wholeheartedly recommend the entire article, which also features quotes from animal law guru Steven Wise: