Animal Law Project
The legal system offers little protection for the interests of animals. Partly, this is because the laws themselves are inadequate: there are no minimum standards of treatment for farm animals, for example. Partly, it is because existing laws are poorly enforced. Police officers have other priorities besides dog owners who chain their animals to trees; the USDA is concerned more with food safety than with the humane handling of animals in slaughterhouses.
More fundamentally, animals do not possess any legal rights. Non-humans are regarded as mere property, no different from a shoe or a book. Thus, efforts to protect animals are often frustrated by the general rule that property owners may do whatever they wish with their property. Whether it is possible adequately to protect the interests of animals without extending them legal rights is an open question. The Animal Law Project seeks both to utilize existing law in creative and novel ways and to advocate for appropriate reforms. We want to stimulate discussion both inside and outside the legal system about how best to protect the interests of non-human animals.