Rick Cupp, “Animals as More Than ‘Mere Things,’ but Still Property,” University of Cincinnati Law Review (forthcoming 2016)

June 20, 2016 — Pepperdine Law professor Richard L. Cupp’s article “Animals as More Than ‘Mere Things,’ but Still Property: A Call for Continuing Evolution of the Animal Welfare Paradigm,” (SSRN) has been accepted for publication by the University of Cincinnati Law Review.

Abstract of Animals as More Than “Mere Things”:

Survival of the animal welfare paradigm (as contrasted with a rights-based paradigm creating legal standing for at least some animals) depends on keeping pace with appropriate societal evolution favoring stronger protections for animals. Although evolution of animal welfare protection will take many forms, this Article specifically addresses models for evolving conceptualizations of animals’ property status within the context of animal welfare. For example, in 2015 France amended its Civil Code to change its description of companion animals and some other animals from movable property to “living beings gifted with sensitivity,” while maintaining their status as property. This Article will evaluate various possible approaches courts and legislatures might adopt to highlight the distinctiveness of animals’ property status as compared to inanimate property. Although risks are inherent, finding thoughtful ways to improve or elaborate on some of our courts’ and legislatures’ animals-as-property characterizations may encourage more appropriate protections where needed under the welfare paradigm, and may help blunt arguments that animals are “mere things” under the welfare paradigm. Animals capable of pain or distress are significantly different than ordinary personal property, and more vigorously emphasizing their distinctiveness as a subset of personal property would further both animal welfare and human interests.

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