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Nature & Environment

Should animals be able to sue their owners ?

By T.K. Randall
April 28, 2014 · Comment icon 23 comments

Should chimps have the same legal rights as humans ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Thomas Lersch
The number of legal experts specialising in defending the rights of animals has been on the increase.
In one notable recent case, a team of lawyers in New York took it upon themselves to contest the treatment of a chimpanzee named Tommy who had been kept in "a small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed" that the team maintained was tantamount to solitary confinement.

"Like humans, chimpanzees have a concept of their personal past and future," the team wrote. "They suffer the pain of not being able to fulfill their needs or move around as they wish; they suffer the pain of anticipating never-ending confinement."
Several other cases have also been put forward by nonhuman rights lawyers in recent years, mainly involving animals believed to possess higher cognitive abilities such as orangutans, dolphins, elephants and even parrots.

Until the law is changed to adequately accommodate the rights of animals however, legal cases such as these are likely to continue facing an uphill struggle for the foreseeable future.

Source: New York Times | Comments (23)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #14 Posted by redhen 10 years ago
I'd love to see (which I won't) a day where people need to apply for a dog, cat, etc and be qualified to be their guardian. That's my dream. You mean like in Turkey ? “Any person, who adopts, owns, sells or cares for an animal needs to have an accommodation suitable for the welfare of the animal, meet its ethological needs and care for its health. People who sell or adopt pets are obliged to take precautionary measures to prevent environmental pollution and damage and discomforts stemming from the animals; they need to compensate any damage stemming from not having taken adequate measures on... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by FlyingAngel 10 years ago
Alright, learn to speak first !
Comment icon #16 Posted by DieChecker 10 years ago
I'd agree that pets can sue their owners, when it is also allowed for owners to sue their pets. And if they can't pay (how will they?), then they can be punished by imprisonment, just like a human. Otherwise, I propose the pro-animal rights clubs should pay the fines owners legally gain against their pets. Or, alternately, I propose that pet owners sue the animal rights organizations for the money to support their pet in the way the organization demands. Or, if they will not, then there should be a law that the animal rights organizations then must take on the pet and care for it themselves. I... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by Frank Merton 10 years ago
What is needed is probably not something that strikes most people as ridiculous (animals suing) and instead statutes enabling public and charitable (animal welfare agencies) to bring such suits and to impose fines. This already happens in many places for some animals.
Comment icon #18 Posted by DieChecker 10 years ago
What is needed is probably not something that strikes most people as ridiculous (animals suing) and instead statutes enabling public and charitable (animal welfare agencies) to bring such suits and to impose fines. This already happens in many places for some animals. I'd agree that animal abuse and neglect legislation is a better idea, with the officers of the law bringing the charges, rather then civilian organizations coming and sticking their noses into peoples business. If someone sees neglect/abuse, report it and let the law take it's course.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Frank Merton 10 years ago
Private animal welfare agencies and law enforcement don't need to be mutually exclusive. There are jurisdictions where animal rights are ignored by law enforcers so that the ability to bring private suits (with the loser of the suit paying costs so that such agencies are discouraged from bringing trivial actions) seems to me more likely to provide better protection.
Comment icon #20 Posted by chopmo 10 years ago
Aren't our prisons and court systems over capacity in most regions? Last thing we need is lawyers signing to monkeys how to get rich quick. Such an action would be saying that animals have a financial right, then said animal should have to follow all conduct as a humans; ID, Registration of living quarters, Mandetory voting in some countries. It would be more easy to "fine" the individual that has done wrong to the animal. Instead of "sueing", the "fine" should be set at the care and needs of said animal over the duration of expected life. The trickiest thing IMO would be trying to honor and/o... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Sir Smoke aLot 10 years ago
Highly abusable
Comment icon #22 Posted by SaraT 10 years ago
Now how did I know which country this idiotic idea came from before I even read the article? Could I in fact be psychic???
Comment icon #23 Posted by Silent Trinity 10 years ago
Well it would make sense, there are ambulance chasers for everything from someone who stubbed their toe on a kerb stone to breaking a fingernail on a shop door, why shouldn't they add this one to their repertoire? lol What's next, getting written permission from a horse before you can ride it? Seriously though, the welfare of animals should be a high priority always, but this is just a little silly. I agree there are standards an animal owner / keeper must meet and the appropriate authorities should continue to prosecute those who do not care for the animal properly, but to say the animal can ... [More]


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