1.  Protection from Harm.

The use of the animal must not interfere with the well-being of the animal involved.  For example, the raising of foie gras and veal interferes with the well-being of the animal and would be strictly forbidden.  Circuses would no longer be permitted to own and use animals.  If long-term cage confinement is required for effective use of the animal(s), the use would be prohibited.

It would be a crime for any person to “torture, torment, deprive of necessary sustenance, or beat, or mutilate or kill . . . any living creature.”[1]  The animals would have the right to be free from pain and suffering inflicted by the intentional acts of a human.

Debeaking, a process that involves cutting through bone, cartilage and soft tissue with a blade to remove the top half and the bottom third of a chicken’s, turkey’s or duck’s beak, would be a crime.  Declawing, the act of surgically amputating the entire distal phalanx, or end bone, of an animal’s toes would be a crime.  As the definition of prohibited uses changes, so would the list of prohibitions.animal law and chick

2.  Right to Adequate Care. Animals would be legally entitled to water, food,  shelter, and veterinary care.  Also, their social needs would have to be met.  For example, herd animals like sheep prefer being with others of the same species.

There would be a legal duty to provide for the psychological well-being of the animal.  For example, a calf would remain with her mother as long as necessary.   An animal has the right to expect the level of care and space that the particular animal needs.  The owner would be legally obligated to provide adequate space and environment for his living property.  Lizards and snakes would not be allowed as pets due to an inadequate environment.  Cows should eat grass and chickens should be free to run and scratch.  The specific environment should be psychologically and physically supportive of the personality and needs that each animal inherently possesses.

Profit maximization would no longer be the determining factor.  There would be no balancing test with human interest.  Human interest would not supersede the interest of the animal.  In cases of violation, the animal would be taken from the owner as in the case of minor  children.

3.  Right to own property.

The animal would have the right  to own  property. This right has already been acknowledged in trusts.[2]

If the owner profits from the use of the animal, the animal should be entitled to a portion of the profits.  Without the show dog or show horse, the money would not have been won. The money would be set aside for the use and benefit of the animal in the form of a trust.  All types of property could be purchased with the animal’s money and placed in the trust.

4.  Right to Contracts.

While an animal does not have the capacity to enter into a contract independent of the owner, any animal who is the subject of a contract has an equitable interest in the contract.  If a llama is rented to a petting zoo, and the rental agreement , prima facie, violates any of the legal rights of the llama, who is the subject of the contract, the contract should be voided.


5.  Right to Tort Damages.

Animals would have the legal right to sue for tort wrongs committed against them.

For example, branding is the practice of burning an identifying mark onto the body of an animal using an extremely hot iron stamp, pressed hard into the animal’s flesh for several seconds without anesthesia.  As this method would become illegal, any branded animal would have the right to sue humans who violate their legal rights.  The animal would be entitled to recover damages from the defendant, even corporate industrial factory farmers.



[1] Act of Apr. 12, 1867, ch. 375, § 1, 1867 N.Y. Laws 86 (current version at N.Y. Agric. & Mkts. § 353 (Consol. 2004)).

[2] Order Appointing Guardian ad Litem, In re Fla. Chimpanzee Care Trust, No. CP-02-1333-IY (Prob. Div. Palm Beach County Cir. Ct., Apr. 1, 2002) (on file with author) (“It is hereby ordered: 1. C.S. is appointed as guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the beneficiaries of the Trust in all future matters involving the Trust; and 2. C.S.’s reasonable fees for serving as guardian ad litem for the Trust beneficiaries shall be paid from the assets of the trust.”). Order Appointing Guardian ad Litem, In re Estate of Ronald W. Callan Jr., No. D-2252 (Shelby County Prob. Ct., Mar. 20, 2007) (on file with author) (“It is therefore Ordered Adjudged and Decreed that: 2. The Guardian Ad Litem owes a duty to this Honorable Court to impartially investigate and to determine the facts to the Court. The Guardian Ad Litem is not an advocate for the dog, but has the duty to determine what is best for the dog’s welfare.”).