Animal Welfare Law
About This Class
*12/21/17 - this class is pending Curriculum Committee approval
In recent years, a broad and rapidly evolving field of law has developed concerning the welfare of animals that are used for a variety of human purposes, including food, entertainment, research, and companionship. Animals used for these purposes often endure a wide range of abuses that diminish animal welfare while also impacting humans.
Public views about such uses of animals are rapidly changing, as evidenced by recent developments including Ringling Bros. shuttering its iconic circus after a decade of falling ticket sales, SeaWorld ending orca breeding after falling profits and stock prices, the National Institutes of Health ending its support of biomedical research on chimpanzees, the enactment of laws prohibiting the maintenance of cetaceans in captivity, changes in consumerism and human consumption away from animal products, and other developments. A unique aspect of the class will be to combine traditional principles of “animal welfare” laws and advocacy with laws typically applied in the “wildlife conservation” context, such as the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Act. Through a survey approach, this class will examine the role of law in these and other key steps forward in understanding and reforming the relationship between humans and animals and improving the condition of animals maintained for human profit and entertainment.
Students in the class will come away with an understanding of the role of legal institutions and regimes in promoting animal welfare, and how they are—and are not—working. Past and current litigation, regulatory, and legislative efforts on behalf of animal welfare will be covered, with case studies and current developments.