Animal "Personhood"

Summary

Anti-hunting, animal-rights extremist groups such as the Humane Socieity of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have always posed a great threat to sportsmen and women, using their political capital to advance a fallacious agenda. Recently, these efforts have promoted the idea that nonhumans (animals) should have the same rights as humans. While this idea of animal “personhood” seems contradictory, legislation similar to this concept is continuously proposed.

Introduction

Anti-hunting, animal-rights extremist groups such as the Human Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have always posed a grave threat to sportsmen and women, using their political capital to advance a fallacious agenda. Most recently this scheme has taken place in the form of “animal personhood”, the idea that nonhumans (animals) should have the same rights as humans. As contradictory as the idea sounds, legislation that is startlingly similar to the concept has already been passed in Connecticut.

H.B. No. 5344, also known as Desmond’s Law, was enacted in 2016. It allows for neglected animals to be represented in court by humans, who act as “advocates”. These representatives serve pro-bono, providing the court with data pertinent to the case. This piece of legislation sets a dangerous precedent, one where legal “personhood” of animals stands in the not-so-distant future.

Points of Interest

  • Granting legal “personhood” to animals would allow organizations like HSUS and PETA to sue zoos, aquariums, and even pet owners.
  • Permitting animal personhood may have “sweeping and disastrous effects” on agriculture, biomedical research, and pet ownership.
  • Personhood has historically been rooted in human dignity, something not applicable to animals.
  • A textbook legal battle that captivated the media involved a macaque named “Naruto” who took a “selfie” on a journalist’s unattended camera, leading to PETA filing a suit that Naruto legally owned the copyright to the photo. The Ninth Circuit ultimately held that animals do not, in fact, hold legal authority over copyrights.

Language

It is important to be familiar with the language used in Desmond’s Law, as it is likely that pro-animal personhood legislators will use similar terminology in other states in the future.

  • “(a) In any prosecution under section 53-247 of the general statutes, or in any court proceeding pursuant to section 22-329a of the general statutes or in the criminal session of the Superior Court regarding the welfare or custody of a cat or dog, the court may order, upon its own initiative or upon request of a party or counsel for a party, that a separate advocate be appointed to represent the interests of justice. If a court orders that an advocate be appointed to represent the interests of justice, the court shall appoint such advocate from a list provided to the court by the Commissioner of Agriculture pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.”

Moving Forward

Animal personhood, while not yet regularly debated on the legal front, is recurring topic that is gaining traction. The idea of animal personhood endangers the very foundation of hunting, angling, and trapping, and subsequently, the American System of Conservation Funding. It is necessary that sportsmen and women remain vigilant, opposing any “animal rights” legislation.

Contact

For more information regarding this issue, please contact Joe Mullin at jmullin@congressionalsportsmen.org.

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