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
What is the current status of animal law in the United States (U.S.)? 2 The area of law known as animal law began in the 1970s; since that time, interest in the subject has grown dramatically. At the same time, and perhaps as a byproduct of the animal law movement, societal views about our relationship with animals has progressed. However, the ability of the animal law movement to effectively address and regulate the way humans interact with animals is constrained by the historic legal view that animals are personal property. Working within this legal framework, animal advocates must creatively use existing traditional areas of law – tort, criminal and constitutional law – and federal and state statutes – to address and redress the human use and abuse of animals. This paper will give a brief overview of the American legal system, highlight the legal resources that are available to animal law practitioners, and describe the limitations that animal law practitioners face as a result of animals’ legal status as personal property.