Animal Law

Animal Rights Lawyers Seeking ‘Holy Grail’ Gain Smaller Victories


For animal rights lawyers, the holy grail is a court decision that would allow them to sue in the name of animals.

They were hopeful a few years ago when the San Francisco-based 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals said Congress could give lawyers that ability, the New York Sun reports. Lawmakers haven’t acted, though.

Still, animal rights lawyers are chalking up other legal victories, including a recent court order that prevented the killing of sea lions whose eating habits were depleting the salmon stock in the Pacific Northwest. In other cases, lawyers have been appointed to represent animals in legal disputes involving their owners, and judges have been authorized to grant protective orders on behalf of animals.

Courts are also more willing to consider awarding emotional damages based on the relationship between people and their animals. One case against a veterinarian accused of prescribing drugs that killed two cats is pending before the Vermont Supreme Court. Traditionally pet owners could recover only the market value of their animals.

The ABA Journal discussed the evolving case law in its November feature, “Beast Practices.”

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