Thursday, June 07, 2007

More Attorneys Flocking to Animal Law

Back in March when a British woman tried to get an Austrian court to declare her the legal guardian of a gorilla, I read a lot of comments from people wondering how far this would go.

Animal rights activists want nothing short of courts declaring animals to have the same rights as humans. Personally, I think it would be a tragic irony if animals wind up with more rights than human babies en utero, but that's another subject for another day.

I read at that more U.S. attorneys are choosing animal law as a practice. The story doesn't really go into what these attorneys are doing, what sorts of cases they handle, and what, if any, changes to the law they are seeing. But if you go to the Animal Legal Defense Fund website, you will have a better idea of the sorts of things they do.

Forcing meat producers to follow the law, for instance, is an excellent purpose (after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, I'm particularly concerned about pigs). ALDF also deals with growing concerns like who gets the cat in a divorce and how to provide for your pet in your will.

Animal rights is a very fast changing area of law. For instance, when I was in law school, we were taught that you couldn't leave money to your pet--ever. But now, it seems, more states are recognizing trusts set up for the care of pets.

This is an interesting use of legal knowledge, in my opinion. With so many people not having children, more people are treating their pets, unfortunately, the way they once would have treated offspring. And while I disagree with spending more on your dog than a normal person spends on children, protecting animals from cruelty is a good idea.