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BREAKING NEWS In Animal Rights! FBI Re-Defines Cruelty


Recently there have been some interesting developments on the legal side of animal rights both at the state and federal level affecting the legal classification of animals and animal cruelty.  First let’s Look at the state-level development and head over to Oregon where the supreme court issued two rulings recently granting animals legal protections formerly only given to humans.  As reported by Arin Greenwood of the Huffington Post.  In a severe animal neglect case, State v. Nix, the court held that the 20 goats and horses found starving on Arnold Nix’s farm amongst the bodies of others who didn’t make it could each be considered individual victims under the law.  And in a second case State v. Fessenden, the court upheld the warrantless seizure of a starving horse under the “exigent circumstances” exception of the fourth amendment.

So what does this mean exactly?  Well, typically in animal abuse and neglect cases, multiple animal victims are merged into one count, denying the individuality of each victim and their right to justice.  This happened initially in State v Nix, the case with the starving goats and horses, but was overturned at the Oregon court of appeals as the court found nothing in the statutes saying explicitly that the term “victim” was limited to human beings.  And the Fessenden case, allowing for the warrantless seizure of animals in imminent danger, has removed a lot of the red tape that often led to animals dying before law officials could obtain a warrant.

While these are certainly advances in our legal view of animals, I feel that their celebration should be taken with some caution.  Neither case changes the fact that animals are legally considered property.  Animal rights lawyer Dane Johnson formerly of the Animal Legal Defense Fund brings up the critical lacking of these developments saying, “why…do we consider the recognition that individual animals are as much victims of inflicted suffering as human crime victims significant when we kill billions of sentient animals in violent and painful ways every year unnecessarily for food?”  And that, to me, is the main point her.  The vast majority of animals abused, neglected, tortured and killed are our food animals–and they remain without any legal protection.  But again that is not to say that these advances aren’t a good thing.

Moving on to the federal level development: The Associated Press reported on October 1 that the FBI has now deemed animals cruelty a top-tier felony.  Up until now, animal cruelty was filed under a label of “other” making it difficult to find, track and count.  The main motivation for this change was to keep better track of potential serial killers in the making.  It’s widely known that in their youth, most serial killers abused, tortured and killed animals before later moving onto their human victims.  The FBI hopes that better tracking of animal abuse can head off the development of future killers.

While this reclassification was motivated solely by the interest of protecting humans, it does give more legal clout to the crime of animal cruelty.  However, it is again limited mainly to pets and those animals deemed “worthy” of protection by our society, excluding the 150 billion animals that we kill every year for our consumption.

So here is my take on all of these developments:  It’s great seeing some legal advances which benefiting animals but with the extent of animals suffering and death in the world, these developments are barely a drop in the bucket.  We need to protect those animals who are most exploited–our food animals.  Until we can rectify our collective cognitive dissonance and speciesism that allows us to place the rights of one species of animals above another, there is no true victory.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this news.  Do you think these are great victories?  Can the battle for animal liberation be won in a courtroom?  Let me know what you think in the comments below and please share this video around to spread the news and get the discussion going.  And if you’re new to my channel I would love to have you subscribe–here at Bite Size Vegan I address all aspects of veganism and always in 5 minutes more or less.  Give the video a thumbs up if you enjoyed hearing about current events in animal rights.  Now go live vegan and I’ll see you soon!

See ya next nugget!

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Resources:

State v Nix (court document)

State v Fessenden (court document)

Animal Legal Defense Fund

Animal Rights Lawyer Dane E Johnson’s Article on State v Nix

Oregon Court Says Animals Can Be Crime ‘Victims,' Like People. So What Does That Mean? by Arin Greenwood, Huffington Post

FBI Turns Animal Cruelty Into Top-Tier Felony by Sue Manning, AP

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1 Comment

  1. Econdemocracy on 01/7/15 at 6:16 am

    Another bit of good news that might happen, just found: “Government Dietary Guidelines May Back Off Meat To Be More Environmentally Friendly”

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/01/04/3607719/new-dietary-guidelines-environment/

    ” Once they are finalized, the new guidelines will be reflected in the
    USDA’s MyPlate icon, which replaced the famous food pyramid in 2011.

    “Once they are finalized, the new guidelines will be reflected in the USDA’s MyPlate icon..As study after study has shown, meat production takes a heavy toll on the environment and reducing their meat consumption may be one of the most impactful steps an individual can take to live more sustainably” notes ThinkProgress quoting AP

    “The study published earlier this year in Climactic Change pointed to not only the emissions reductions that come from eating less meat but the health benefits, as well…A draft recommendation for the U.S. government’s new dietary guidelines circulated last month reflects both of those potential benefits, according to the AP report. Consuming more plant-based foods and less animal-based foods is ‘more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact than is the current average U.S. diet,’ the draft stated.”

    “If the new guidelines do indeed recommend more plant-based foods at the expense of meat, the meat-production industry is ready for a fight. The
    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association released a statement…” etc, and some members of Congress gave a non-binding directive to pressure the advisory committee “to only include nutrition and dietary information and not extraneous factors” as if diet-related environmental issues are “extraneous”, let alone health being “extraneous”!

    Of course this may not happen…I don’t want to put more on Emily’s already very full vegan AR plate, and I don’t follow news often enough to catch every update, so if some alert member of our growing BSV community (yeah, I called it that :-) can post updates here (positive developments or bad ones), that would be great.

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