Recent developments at both the state and federal level are changing the legal classification of animals and animal cruelty—giving animals rights once only relegated to humans and deeming animal cruelty a top-tier felony.
Recently there have been some interesting developments on the legal side of animal rights both at the state and federal level affecting the legal classification of animals and animal cruelty. First let’s Look at the state-level development and head over to Oregon where the supreme court issued two rulings recently granting animals legal protections formerly only given to humans. As reported by Arin Greenwood of the Huffington Post. In a severe animal neglect case, State v. Nix, the court held that the 20 goats and horses found starving on Arnold Nix’s farm amongst the bodies of others who didn’t make it could each be considered individual victims under the law. And in a second case State v. Fessenden, the court upheld the warrantless seizure of a starving horse under the “exigent circumstances” exception of the fourth amendment.
So what does this mean exactly? Well, typically in animal abuse and neglect cases, multiple animal victims are merged into one count, denying the individuality of each victim and their right to justice. This happened initially in State v Nix, the case with the starving goats and horses, but was overturned at the Oregon court of appeals as the court found nothing in the statutes saying explicitly that the term “victim” was limited to human beings. And the Fessenden case, allowing for the warrantless seizure of animals in imminent danger, has removed a lot of the red tape that often led to animals dying before law officials could obtain a warrant.
While these are certainly advances in our legal view of animals, I feel that their celebration should be taken with some caution. Neither case changes the fact that animals are legally considered property. Animal rights lawyer Dane Johnson formerly of the Animal Legal Defense Fund brings up the critical lacking of these developments saying,
why…do we consider the recognition that individual animals are as much victims of inflicted suffering as human crime victims significant when we kill billions of sentient animals in violent and painful ways every year unnecessarily for food?
And that, to me, is the main point here. The vast majority of animals abused, neglected, tortured and killed are our food animals–and they remain without any legal protection. But again that is not to say that these advances aren’t a good thing.
Moving on to the federal level development: The Associated Press reported on October 1 that the FBI has now deemed animals cruelty a top-tier felony. Up until now, animal cruelty was filed under a label of “other” making it difficult to find, track and count. The main motivation for this change was to keep better track of potential serial killers in the making. It’s widely known that in their youth, most serial killers abused, tortured and killed animals before later moving onto their human victims. The FBI hopes that better tracking of animal abuse can head off the development of future killers.
While this reclassification was motivated solely by the interest of protecting humans, it does give more legal clout to the crime of animal cruelty. However, it is again limited mainly to pets and those animals deemed “worthy” of protection by our society, excluding the 150 billion animals that we kill every year for our consumption.
So here is my take on all of these developments: it’s great seeing some legal advances which benefit non-human animals, but with the extent of animals suffering and killed in the world, these developments are barely a drop in the bucket. We need to protect those animals who are most exploited–our food animals. Until we can rectify our collective cognitive dissonance and speciesism that allows us to place the rights of one species of animals above another, there is no true victory.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this news. Do you think these are great victories? Can the battle for animal liberation be won in a courtroom? Let me know what you think in the comments below and please share this video around to spread the news and get the discussion going. And if you’re new to my channel I would love to have you subscribe–here at Bite Size Vegan I address all aspects of veganism and always in 5 minutes more or less. Give the video a thumbs up if you enjoyed hearing about current events in animal rights. Now go live vegan and I’ll see you soon!
— Emily Moran Barwick
Another bit of good news that might happen, just found: “Government Dietary Guidelines May Back Off Meat To Be More Environmentally Friendly”
” Once they are finalized, the new guidelines will be reflected in the
USDA’s MyPlate icon, which replaced the famous food pyramid in 2011.
“Once they are finalized, the new guidelines will be reflected in the USDA’s MyPlate icon..As study after study has shown, meat production takes a heavy toll on the environment and reducing their meat consumption may be one of the most impactful steps an individual can take to live more sustainably” notes ThinkProgress quoting AP
“The study published earlier this year in Climactic Change pointed to not only the emissions reductions that come from eating less meat but the health benefits, as well…A draft recommendation for the U.S. government’s new dietary guidelines circulated last month reflects both of those potential benefits, according to the AP report. Consuming more plant-based foods and less animal-based foods is ‘more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact than is the current average U.S. diet,’ the draft stated.”
“If the new guidelines do indeed recommend more plant-based foods at the expense of meat, the meat-production industry is ready for a fight. The
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association released a statement…” etc, and some members of Congress gave a non-binding directive to pressure the advisory committee “to only include nutrition and dietary information and not extraneous factors” as if diet-related environmental issues are “extraneous”, let alone health being “extraneous”!
Of course this may not happen…I don’t want to put more on Emily’s already very full vegan AR plate, and I don’t follow news often enough to catch every update, so if some alert member of our growing BSV community (yeah, I called it that :-) can post updates here (positive developments or bad ones), that would be great.
Brenda Kaye Hixenbaugh says
Although these are steps in the right direction, nothing is going to change in regards to true justice for each and every victim! There is too much hang up about them only being animals. Well they aren’t just animals, they are living feeling beings that deserve love and consideration as such. These so called human beings that are supposed to be of a higher intelligence are anything but! Just because it looks human does not mean it is! The brutal crimes ,committed by these inhumane vile things , that keep getting slaps on the wrist has got to e stopped. The death penalty needs to be put on all animal abuse cases that end in an animals death or the abuse is so monstrously cruel. Why should these inhuman monsters keep on getting a free get out of jail card just because some judge is also suffering from a blatant indifference to life?
There needs to be a disposal ,of the brutal cruel vicious self serving inhuman monsters that are turned loose on this, our unsuspecting society. These monsters not only do horrendous damage and death to our animal friends ,but also single out the helpless innocent children on a daily nightmare of the victims! The time has come for this world to clean up and dispose of all the rabid incurable human monsters. Enough is enough, it is time to put all victims old, new, and future ahead of these cough choke cough humans.
They can not be helped. They have caused pain and suffering that will never be gone. They contribute absolutely nothing to this world. So why do some people break their backs saving this low life scum? Oh they use the tired old reason that it won’t bring back the victim! Well the death penalty does guarantee no other victims and uncalled for death. We never hesitate to euthanize a rabid animal then why is it we don’t do the same for a rabid human animal? They are not human, there is no higher intelligence involved, basically there is nothing intelligent associated with these mindless unfeeling self serving PO Crap.
Up the animal laws and give all victims the justice that is called for, for both the humans and the animals. Enough is enough.