Want to use your legal skills to help animals? You're the best.

Here's some background reading.

Don't miss Lesli Bisgould's Animals and the Law (Irwin Law, 2011). It's no secret that I adore Lesli. From the publisher:

Animals and the Law examines the unique role that animals play as living property in a legal system conceived by and for human beings. On the one hand, animals are things that we buy, eat, and use in experiments. On the other, they are beloved family companions. The book traces the history of laws dealing with animals, from the animal trials which began in the thirteenth century in Europe, through the development of anti-cruelty laws, to the present struggle to cope with the conflicting implications of biotechnology and other industrial uses for animals, and, indeed, artificially created living things. Throughout, the book critically evaluates the present legal status of animals and asks us to consider whether animals should be viewed as objects, as legal subjects, as legal persons, or as something else entirely.

There's another collection of essays on a variety of topics worth checking out, Canadian Perspectives on Animals and the Law, edited by Peter Sankoff, Vaughan Black and Katie Sykes.

The most important animal rights decision in Canada, and surely one of the most important in the world, is a dissent from Chief Justice Catherine Fraser of the Alberta Court of Appeal. Check it out and catch a glimpse of the future here. Animal cruelty laws need to be enforced, not only for animals, but as a matter of democracy. And, animals need standing to enforce the protections that are available to them.

The other most important case is R. v. Menard (1978), by Justice Lamer when he was on the Quebec Court of Appeal. There's an epidemic of animal-use industries doing what they want to animals; if there's a veneer of a socially accepted purpose, law enforcement tends to stay away. But in Menard, an animal cruelty conviction was entered for a shelter operator for using a cruel method of euthanasia when a less cruel method was available. This is important: "unnecessary suffering" means that even if the purpose is legitimate, the means can still be scrutinized. The judgment is available here. Unfortunately, we don't see the principles of Menard applying in practice... yet.

The Supreme Court has heard from animal advocates twice: in Harvard College v. Commissioner of Patents (2002) and R. v. D.L.W. (2016).

The animal law movement has been underway in the U.S. for decades. They face significant barriers to even getting in the door, as from what I understand there's no public interest standing equivalent. However, in Canada, we don't have the same barriers. We can and should bring cases before the courts for adjudication. Animal-use industries are getting away with harming animals in ways that appear to directly violate animal protection laws. They're getting away with it because nobody is challenging them.

Want to challenge them? Get in touch with me.