gervais end animal testing

Legal Standing

It is obvious that an animal cannot function as a plaintiff in the same manner as a legally competent human being.  Animals like children cannot assert their rights on their own.

In civil matters, such as veterinary malpractice, breach of contract or tort by a third party, the owner of the injured animal would be appointed to sue on his or her behalf.  If a group of animals has sustained the harm, a class action suit would be the appropriate method.

Animals would also have the right to sue their owners.  In these instances, a guardian would be appointed to sue on behalf of the animal.

Currently, the government has the legal duty to enforce anti-cruelty laws and regulations.  Consequently, these animals are dependent upon the government agencies for protection.  Sometimes these agencies enforce the laws and regulations.  Other times, they do not.  A more efficient means of enforcing legal rights would be to formally ascribe to certain humans and/or non-governmental groups, such as humane societies, the right to take legal action on behalf of the animal for the enforcement protection of its interests.  In ALDF v. Woodley[1], The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed suit to remove more than 300 dogs from the defendants’ home because of the adverse conditions in which the animals were living.[2]  The court ordered all the animals removed from the Woodleys’ home and title was transferred to ALDF, which found homes for almost all the animals.  The lower court’s decision was upheld on appeal.[3]  Local governments may not have the time, the resources or the interest in pursuing animal cruelty violations.  Allowing private organizations, such as the ALDF, to step in on behalf of the animals, increases the effectiveness of these laws.

The appointment of a legal guardian for animals has already occurred in the United States.  A chimpanzee has had a guardian appointed for purposes of the animal’s interests in a trust,[4] a dog has had a guardian appointed for purposes of placement,[5] and the fifty Michael Vick pit bulls were placed under the guardianship of an attorney.[6]  monkey ears

The appointment of a guardian, is allowed for children.  It can be easily modified to include animals.

If corporations, partnerships, trusts, and ships, mentally incompetent persons and minors have the ability to sue, animals should be granted the same opportunity

It makes legal sense to acknowledge these winds of change by creating a new category specific to animals; Living Property.  Once distinguished from other property such as lamps and stamps, a new area of law and jurisprudence will evolve, providing effective legal rights for at least some animals

I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.  – Abraham Lincoln

[1] Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Woodley, 640 S.E.2d 777 (N.C. Ct. App. 2007).

[2] The court stated the facts as such: On 23 December 2004, [the] plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendants seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions under North Carolina’s Civil Remedy for Protection of Animals statute[, N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 19A-1].  [The] plaintiff alleged that [the] defendants had abused and neglected a large number of dogs (as well as some birds) in [the defendants’] possession.

[3] Id. at 777-78.  The defendants, appealed from an injunction forfeiting all their rights in the animals and an order granting temporary custody of the animals to the plaintiff, the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

[4] 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.”).

[5] 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.”).

[6] Second Order as to Disposition and Appointing Guardian/Special Master at 2, United States v. Approximately 53 Pit Bull Dogs, No. 3:07CV397 (E.D. Va. Oct. 15, 2007) , available at pdf/pbusvick_order_appointing_guardian.pdf (“1. Rebecca J. Huss is hereby appointed as guardian/special master to consider appropriate options for a final disposition of the remaining 48 pitbull dogs previously forfeited to the United States. 2. Professor Huss shall have the following powers and duties to fulfill her obligations: (a) Consider available disposition and placement options as she deems appropriate for the final disposition of the remaining dogs[.]”); Motion for Second Order as to Disposition and Appointing Guardian/Special Master, Approximately 53 Pit Bull Dogs, No. 3:07CV397, available at appoint_guardian.pdf.