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The Elephant in the Room: Detrimental Effects of Animals' Property Status on Standing in Animal Protection Cases

By Lisa Marie Morrish

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Animals’ long-standing status as property serves to hinder many attempts to secure rights and protections for animals in the legal arena. Even within the realm of property law, states vary on how animals are viewed and protected. Because of these long-held views and inconsistencies, the rights of animals are not taken as seriously as is warranted. Moreover, a person’s interest in animals has been trivialized, especially regarding the ability to obtain standing in a legal proceeding. This Comment will explore the different ways animals are viewed and treated in the legal world. It will focus on how these views affect the concept of people having a valid legal interest in animals and their rights, and whether or not that interest should create standing in courts. Part I of this Comment will lay a foundation describing how animals are viewed throughout the states as property and the different rights afforded to them.
The interests of animals and their rights would be furthered if a greater significance were placed on people’s interests in them. It will explain legislation and cases that show the inconsistencies of the states and the courts. Part II will identify the legal problem that this uncertain and old-fashioned view has created in the current legal atmosphere.
Part III will analyze how the status of animals as property has affected the significance of a person’s interest in animals and how that interest is treated in determining standing.
 And Part IV will offer a proposal to help solve the problem and clarify inconsistencies. This includes viewing animals as something greater than property, with their own protected rights, and allowing animals and the people who have an interest in them to have standing to sue in court.


Katie Carroll

Date 2014
Publication Title Santa Clara Law Review
Volume 53
Issue 4
Publisher Santa Clara University School of Law
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal protection
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animals in culture
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Ethics
  6. Law and legal issues
  7. Laws and regulations
  8. Lawyers
  9. Mammals
  10. properties