Animal law is a growing area of study and practice because of the many ways in which nonhuman animals (animals) are used in a wide variety of venues.
Globally, nonhumans, including fully sentient companion animals and other thinking and feeling nonhuman beings, are viewed legally as unfeeling property or things, and this means they can be subjected to incredibly invasive, painful, and deadly treatment without breaking any laws.
In the United States, the Federal Animal Welfare Act redefined the word “animals” to exclude laboratory rats, mice, and other sentient beings who clearly are animals and used by the millions. While some people think this is a joke, it isn’t, and countless scientists continue their work without questioning this outrageous taxonomic revision.
Source: Sydney University Press, with permission.
I’ve previously posted a number of essays about different systems of animal law, and I’m pleased Elizabeth Ellis of the School of Law at the University of Wollongong could answer some questions about her new landmark book Australian Animal Law: Context and Critique.1
Some key areas she considers include unnecessary animal suffering, the exemption of most animals from the operation of cruelty laws, regulatory conflicts of interest, the hidden nature of animal use, and the lack of transparency in animal law.
Marc Bekoff: Why did you write Australian Animal Law?
Elizabeth Ellis: The last two decades in Australia have seen significant work in the field of animal law: a proliferation of university courses, law reform activities, and a growing body of literature. Yet all this good work has not been matched by substantial legal reforms. While there have been some wins for animals, these have been relatively modest, and major problems remain largely unchanged.
Even quite modest improvements get bogged down for years, as evidenced by the recent process