Legal Patiency – Developing a New Category for Sentient Nonpersons
All animals with non-borderline sentience are deserving of certain legal considerations independent of their use and relationship to human beings. That is, all sentient beings should have some rights. Given the current organization of the U.S. legal system, which divides entities into property or persons, it is not surprising that animals are relegated to property status. This issue can be remedied by creating a third legal designation, legal patient, into which all non-person sentient animals (those which do not properly belong on either current category) would fit. These animals would receive certain limited rights, which would be implemented through legal structures already in place, such as those used in providing legal advocacy for children.
Key words: Animal rights, animal welfare, animal law, personhood, property