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The pet industry is big in the US. We buy cat and dog related retail items for ourselves and the animals. We purchase pet insurance. Vets who work on Fido and Fluffy charge premiums that the large animals would never have spent on them.

It is also, a jumping off platform to stop production. Animal law is broadly animal welfare rules. Rules to protect production animals are deeply rooted in America, by comparison, prior to 1860s nothing made a difference between your favorite dog and a wild one when it came to them being shot by your neighbor. By 1867, New York said starving, torturing, or killing living creatures was a crime. Other laws regulate puppy mills, dog and chicken fighting. Pretty soon, denial of food, water, shelter, and vet care were actionable offenses.

Animal rights is the idea that animals have more than a welfare interest. They can inherit an interest in a trust (which is a good idea if you own an animal that will outlive you like an elephant, certain breeds of birds etc). Wilder ideas that are being pushed are that animals have the right to own land and have humans owe them a duty of care and responsibility to not destroy their habitat. Some ways to get into court for animals are to indicate the human is harmed observing by what is happening to the animal, the animal itself is harmed by the action (like denial of habitat) so the humans bring action for the animals, or more directly, the animal can sue in its own name. The most famous was a case where PETA filed a case for a macaque monkey who hit a button on camera. PETA claimed the monkey owned the copy right to the image. At least under the copy right act of 1976, the monkey didn’t have the right to sue, but the photographer who did own the image had to settle and donate 25% of the revenue from the photo to a macaque protection agency.

Horses, killer whales, and chimpanzees have all been apparently trying to file lawsuits via human intervention in their own name. Why do you care? If they have standing to sue, then animal husbandry practices like artificial insemination are now sexual assault.

In addition to suing, the latest maneuver is to “rescue” (read steal) animals from production faculties and say they are getting care for the animal. They will live cast the act in order to get views and interaction. They try to say the stolen property has no value and that the actions were designed to establish a right to rescue animals in peril. The defendant actually wanted to be jailed and appealed getting suspended jail sentence.

These interests are getting “experts” who are willing to testify that fish can be happy or sad based on the type of environment they are in. That is amazing for the idea that not so much fish might have but that humans are qualified to interpret the display of those emotions through mere observation.

Colorado’s proposed legislation would have also limited slaughter to only after 25% of natural life span had lapsed (for cattle that would be a chewy steak). In Oregon, they attempted to outlaw hunting and slaughter livestock full stop as well as criminalizing the breeding practices of AI. Don’t worry, in Iowa, a file was introduced to ban new confined feeding operations. A similar bill has been proposed on the federal level by Senator Cory Booker. Sen Booker had presidential aspirations at one time.

What about what did pass.   Eight states (Nevada, Massachusetts, California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, Utah and Washington) require all eggs sold to be from cage-free facilities. Restrictions on housing types are also on the books. Largely in states that don’t actually produce the regulated egg or chicken.

I wish I was making this stuff up. I wish this wasn’t a funded effort. This article didn’t even cover California’s efforts to tell producers in other states how to raise livestock.

Thursday, December 08, 2022
  • Patrick B. Dillon
  • Jill Dillon
Dillon Law PC
Patrick B. Dillon enjoys finding solutions to legal issues and catching problems for clients. Pat practices in the Sumner office regularly represents clients in district, associate district and magistrate courts for agricultural, real estate, criminal and collection issues. He drafts wills and trusts, creates estate plans and helps clients through the probate process.
Dillon Law PC
Jill is a University of Northern Iowa undergraduate (Political Science Cum Laude) and a Drake University Law School graduate. Jill is a firm owner but not currently accepting private pay clients. Jill still has ties to her family farm operation which includes a dairy herd.

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