Animal Law and the Social Justice Framework                                                 ni                            ...
Animals are Sentient BeingsSource:
Animals As Things
Things Don’t have Rights
Challenging The Dominant Paradigm
Walking and Chewing Gum
Applying The Framework
Equity: Getting A Fair Share
Animal Rights or Protecting Needs?http//
Recognition Of The Personhood of
Participation and Consultation
What Can We Do In The CLC sector?
Cruelty Is Necessary When It Is For Profit
Cruelty is hard to prosecute, even     when it is not necessary
Regulations and Codes of Practice: a bewilderinghotchpotch of vested interests
Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre’s AnimalLaw & Education Project
Introduction: Animal Law Presentation
Introduction: Animal Law Presentation
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5

Introduction: Animal Law Presentation


Published on

A presentation by Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre (Australia).

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Animal protection law is predicated on the basis that animals are sentient beings; that they experience both pleasure and pain and are thus are capable of experiencing suffering as a result of activities undertaken by humans.In 1997 the concept of animal sentience was first recognised in law in the European Union’s Treaty of Amsterdam Protocols which required EU Member States to “ensure improved protection and respect for the welfare of animals as sentient beings.” In Australia, it took until 2004 for the Australian Government to acknowledge the sentience of animals in its “Australian Animal Welfare Strategy” So, in theory we have moved beyond the Cartesian model of animal as machine or automaton, with the squawks and squeals being a mere turning of the cog. Animals feel pleasure and pain. They seek out activities that promote their well-being and avoid physically or psychologically stressful situations. Chickens, when free to express their chicken-ness, will scratch, dust-bathe and nest. Pigs seek out objects for chewing. They love a good wallow and a back scratch. Lions don’t queue to jump through hoops and horses don’t actually seek out humans to ride on their backs. But it may well be the case that dogs like to hang out with humans.For quite some time now, humans have taken it upon themselves to take control of their fellow animals; when and how they reproduce, what they eat and where they can go and of course, how long they live and the manner of their death.
  • Under Australian law, non-wild animals are personal property. All animals, including wild animals without human owners, are things. None have rights. They can be used for food and clothing, transport, entertainment, scientific experimentation, and cosmetic testing. Wild animals may have their habitat destroyed with impunity. They may be killed, or as we say, ‘culled’ where animals compete with humans for natural resources.Despite the impact that human society has on animals, animals do not have the ability or the right to access our legal system to challenge these significant impositions on the quality of their lives. Animals do not have standing, and there are significant legal impediments for activists who seek to challenge existing inadequate animal welfare laws.For those of you familiar with environmental law which basically regulates how the environment may be polluted and damaged, so it is with our animal welfare laws; they regulate animal cruelty. For example, under the Model Code of Practice for Poultrycl 14.1 caged egg producers may lawfully despatch hatchling roosters alive into giant grinders, a practice known as “quick maceration”. Under the Code, It is lawful to squeeze hens into A4 sized spaces and most welfare laws detail at what age it is acceptable to mutilate animals for agricultural purposes. Other codes and regulations allow a multitude of cruel but legal practices. We cut the flesh off sheep’s backsides, we lop tails, we chop off testicles, burn off beaks, we pour corrosive liquids into rabbit’s eyes and remove newborn calves from their mothers so that we can drink their milk. Frankly, I could fill up the rest of this session just listing all the painful things we do to animals. These procedures are generally performed without anaesthetics and on very young animals
  • is no Animal Ombudsman, no Animal Rights Commission and no UN Declaration on the Rights of Animals. Investigations and prosecutions for cruelty are undertaken by poorly resourced animal welfare charities such as the RSPCA. The various State and Federal Departments of Agriculture are also charged with animal welfare monitoring responsibilities, including developing codes of animal welfare. This duty runs in tandem with their statutory function of supporting and resourcing the very agricultural industries that profit from intensive animal husbandry practices. A clear conflict of interest I suggest.As can be seen by the recent live cattle export scandal, governments and powerful lobby groups prefer to work in this cosy fashion. Nosy animal welfare charities are not welcome. In NSW, in 2007, Animal Liberation’s investigative work into factory farming was curtailed when the State Govt excluded them from the power to commence prosecutions under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW).Despite the fact that literally hundreds of millions of animals are processed and killed each year within our intensive factory farming systems and our science labs, the vast majority of cruelty reports relate to companion animals or the more visible agricultural animals standing in their paddocks. Animal things that are invisible to the public eye are the most vulnerable of all sentient beings. It is only through the dedicated undercover work of animal rights activists that often tests the boundaries of legality, that the public ever sees the reality of life in a cage or a sow stall or a “free to roam” (not) barn.
  •, what has this got to do with social justice? Well I would argue that the current status and treatment of animals is a social justice issue. We must make the quantum leap from our human-centred focus into a place where we are merely one of a myriad of species that share the planet together.Just as it has taken far too long for us to recognise that we exist within a finite environment where clean water, air, soil and species diversity are essential to continued human existence, we should now recognise that just because we CAN cause suffering to animals, does not mean that we SHOULD. Our religious, political, social, economic and legal systems once considered human slavery, the inferior status of Indigenous peoples and women to be perfectly legitimate and indeed necessary for the proper functioning of society. It took lengthy social justice campaigns to challenge powerful, vested interests and to change societal views. Of course, I am not suggesting that this work is complete, there is still much to be done.
  • is at this point that social justice advocates are likely to bristle; “why should I put my energies into animals when there are still (insert the client group) injustices.” My response is what I call the “walking and chewing gum” argument. I don’t stop being a lesbian feminist activist with a fierce interest in workers’ rights just because I recognise that human laws allow cruelty to animals. In the course of my working week I am capable of: running a workshop on the cruelty of live animal export, partnering with meatworkers to support employment in local abattoirs and engaging in media interviews on same sex marriage or the prevalence of domestic violence in rural communities. One does not preclude the other.I often think this argument is raised because of repressed discomfort with the recognition that we humans benefit from animal cruelty in its many forms; cheap meat, drug trials, a fun day out at the races. Social justice advocates don’t like to be on the wrong side of injustice and for those that have always looked away, it can be a pretty confronting knowledge.
  • So where do we go from here regarding a social justice framework for animals? As we know, social justice is based on four interrelated principles of equity, rights, access and participation. Obviously the greatest challenge for animal law is that our clients cannot speak and will never have capacity. Under our current system, at best we may assume a guardianship role where we gather the best scientific evidence available to determine what is in the best interests of a chicken, or a cow or a rat.There is some great work being done in the emerging field of wild or earth law where rights of nature are identified and enforced. In Ecuador, the Vilcabamba River was given standing, with a successful claim to an inherent right to an unimpeded flow. The case is cited as Protective Action 11121-2011-0010. In the meantime, we are left working with our extremely inadequate and flawed animal welfare laws.
  • Due to human actions, animals are not getting a fair share of the resources of the planet. We are destroying habitat and causing extinctions at unprecedented rates. Intensive factory farming practices are completely inequitable in terms of the treatment of animals. Due to accelerated breeding programs, the life expectancy of a meat chicken is now a 49 days, compared to a potential lifespan of 6 to 10 years, We allocate for them, a mere 1.5% of their possible life. I know of no starker example of inequity. And the same calculations can be done for pigs (slaughtered at 24 weeks, with a possible 15 year lifespan) and sheep (killed at 25 weeks, with a possible 12 year lifespan). Would we ever accept as equitable, a society that routinely consigns its human underclass to death at 18 months of age?
  •; is a fertile ground for argument in animal law circles. There are lengthy debates about the various merits of pursuing a right-based agenda, or whether a welfarist model is more pragmatic, with greater chances of success in improving animals’ lives in an anthropocentric world. Will the lives of animals improve while we view them as property rather than legal persons? One novel argument is that we can maintain the legal concept of animals as property with animals having an equitable (self-) interest in how they are treated.  An example of the welfarist approach is the widely recognised Five Freedoms as approved by the European Union They are also cited in the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy, that they provide valuable guidance in animal welfare; Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; freedom from fear and distress; freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; and freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour. Note the word “guidance” as they certainly do not reflect the reality of our current animal welfare laws.
  • www.animalsuffering.comThis is a controversial issue amongst animal lawyers. There are those that argue for animals to be recognised as legal persons, much in the same way that other non-humans such as companies are deemed to be legal persons. In brief, this view posits that civil wrongs should be litigated by those animals that are directly injured and not indirectly by humans with human-centric concerns. If animals are the subject of laws designed in theory to protect them, why should they not be granted plaintiff status? This gives the animal standing and thus it is arguably easier to obtain remedies for their injuries. Thus it is better for a lawyer to be representing a chemically-blinded rabbit than an animal welfare agency concerned about animal cruelty. Certainly the current situation is not acceptable. At any one time, there are 5 million pigs, 80 million sheep, 10 million cows, 500 million chickens in agricultural systems. and 7 million animals used in scientific experiments. And yet so few cases of cruelty come before the courts. The legal hurdle of overcoming standing is a major impediment if activists cannot convince the RSPCA, the Minister for Agricultures or the police to take action.
  •; Animals Australia.There may well be a time in the future where we can directly communicate with animals to find out how they would like to live their lives. I am guessing it doesn’t involve cages, electric shocks and mutilation. In the meantime, we must act in a guardianship role to best determine their needs, using the best available evidence. This is still a challenge, with many in animal-related industries refusing to accept that animal interests are a valid consideration when planning their business models.The European Union, once again, is ahead of the game; with some improvements in animal welfare as a result of investigations into how best to satisfy the Five Freedoms. Examples include the abolition and phasing out of sow stalls and battery hen cages.
  • social justice is what we do. We have a fine tradition of identifying injustice and exclusion. We challenge powerful institutions on behalf of those they exploit and marginalise. We lobby government for improvements to laws, we educate the community on how laws work, or don’t work and we provide advice and casework to those disadvantaged by our legal system.I would argue that the current position of animals puts them as the most disadvantaged and dispossessed of any client group. Fertility is controlled, progeny taken and exploited for profit; lives are made painful, brutish and short. The exciting thing about animal law is that there are so many areas to challenge.It is not within the scope of this paper (and the short timeframe for this session) to go into great detail.But here’s a few tasters for law reform and legal challenges
  •; welfare laws are state-based. In NSW, the relevant cruelty legislation is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW). The Act known by its acronym, PoCtAA, has many inadequacies that are shared by other State’s animal welfare laws. The most important flaw that goes to the heart of social justice for animals is that under S.4(2)(d) if a defendant is able to establish that they were not acting in a manner in which the animal is unreasonably, unnecessarily or unjustifiably inflicted with pain, then no unlawful cruelty occurred,  This phrase has been interpreted to include most agricultural practices such as mulesing, de-beaking, tail docking and much more. The criteria are based on a human-centric view that cruelty is lawful if it furthers human aims. This includes producing edible animal flesh at the cheapest possible price. For example, intensive chicken meat producers have managed to perfect the 50 cent chicken carcass so that you and I can enjoy cheap chicken nuggets. The extreme suffering caused by the oversized breast tissue, the consequentially stressed cardiovascular system and the painful damage to the skeletal systems are all perfectly necessary.
  • Governments spend virtually nothing on monitoring, investigating and prosecuting animal cruelty. In NSW, the Government funds the RSPCA $800,000 per annum to operate their inspectorates. In my Northern Rivers areas, we have one inspector covering a land mass equivalent to a small European country. There are hundreds of thousands, probably several million agricultural animals, intensively farmed animals and companion animals. In the last five years we have had on average three cruelty prosecutions per annum. None were for intensively farmed animals; all were for companion animals or horses; those with the highest public profile.
  • In a nutshell, the pointy end of animal cruelty resides in the regulations to the welfare legislation, and particularly in the Codes of Practice. The regulations are often confusing and sometimes contradict the Act. For example S20 of PoCtAA bans ‘animal containing, releasing and catching competitions’. This clearly describes rodeos and yet Cl 11 of the PoCtAA (General) Regulation 2006 specifically exempts rodeos. Isn’t that ultra vires? The Codes of Practice which are the responsibility of the various Ministries of Agriculture may be legally enforceable, or merely aspirational. It depends on whether they are scheduled to the Act. However, prosecutions are rare even where Codes are not scheduled with prosecutors reluctant to challenge approved industry minimum standards. The codes are primarily developed by industry representatives, with a view to maximizing profit, not animal welfare. For example the Animal Welfare Code of Practice- Commercial Pig Production is listed in Schedule 2 of the Act. Under cl 16(2) of this Code, a pregnant sow is allowed a mere .6m x 2.2m; so little space in her stall that she can barely move more than one or two steps. A farrowing crate is even smaller. And remember, most of her life is spent pregnant or farrowing piglets.
  • As Community Legal Centres, we are very well-placed to engage in raising community awareness about the inadequacies of animal law. At our Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre, we have been running our volunteer Animal Law & Education Project for the last two years and our main focus had been on community legal education. In that time we have run community workshops on Live Animal Export, Intensive Puppy Farming, Companion Animals & Wildlife, Animal Cruelty laws and partnered with our local University to host our region’s first ever Animal Law Conference. These workshops then generated significant local media interest which considerably expanded our audience. From this, we have developed strong links with sympathetic journalists who give us access to the media to raise animal cruelty issues when the circus or rodeo comes to town. We have developed strong networks with animal welfare groups and in the future we hope to establish a pro bono animal law service as more of our volunteer lawyers and law students study animal law, which is now offered annually at our local University.In Australia, animal law is a new and emerging field for social justice lawyers. As the former Justice Michael Kirby stated in August this year whist giving a speech at Voiceless, the Animal Protection Institute:“In our shared sentience, human beings are intimately connected with other animals. Endowed with reason and speech, we are uniquely empowered to make ethical decisions and to unite for social change on behalf of others that have no voice. Exploited animals cannot protest their treatment or demand a better life. They are entirely at our mercy. So every decision of animal welfare, whether in Parliament or the supermarket, presents us with a profound test of moral character. We can turn away from uncomfortable truths, and advance our economic interests, or we can fulfil that which makes us fully human. There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
  • Introduction: Animal Law Presentation

    1. 1. Animal Law and the Social Justice Framework ni Animal Law & Education Project
    2. 2. Animals are Sentient BeingsSource:
    3. 3. Animals As Things
    4. 4. Things Don’t have Rights
    5. 5. Challenging The Dominant Paradigm
    6. 6. Walking and Chewing Gum
    7. 7. Applying The Framework
    8. 8. Equity: Getting A Fair Share
    9. 9. Animal Rights or Protecting Needs?http//
    10. 10. Recognition Of The Personhood of
    11. 11. Participation and Consultation
    12. 12. What Can We Do In The CLC sector?
    13. 13. Cruelty Is Necessary When It Is For Profit
    14. 14. Cruelty is hard to prosecute, even when it is not necessary,r:4,s:0&tx=101&ty=74
    15. 15. Regulations and Codes of Practice: a bewilderinghotchpotch of vested interests
    16. 16. Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre’s AnimalLaw & Education Project