For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals
Less than a month ago, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio shocked the world by recognizing animals as ‘legal persons’ for the first time in U.S. history. When the Animal Legal Defense Fund stood up to advocate against the killing of about 100 hippopotamuses living in the Magdalena river in Colombia, they had no idea that the U.S. federal court would back them by recognizing that the hippos can qualify as ‘interested persons’ in a legal case – in certain situations.
The United States isn’t the only country grappling with the often difficult and complex legal debates on animal rights as the extent of the sentience of the non-human animals with whom we share the planet is realized.
The United Kingdom is also forming a list of animals classified as sentient beings, which would thus regulate the way that that class of animals can be treated and slaughtered for food, products, and other purposes. Added to that list in the past two weeks as cephalopods (including squids and octopi, recently recognized as one of the most intelligent creatures on Earth in books such as the Soul of An Octopus) and crustaceans like crabs and lobsters. While the original bill included all vertebrate species (animals possessing a backbone, including all birds, mammals, and reptiles), the sentience of invertebrate animals is being tested–particularly in relation to their pain receptors and the ability to feel pain at being boiled alive, cooked, and so on.
While I personally am interested in this as a step in the right direction, especially in advocating for the better treatment of animals, my slight cynicism worries that it would be a verbal and performative step rather than an actual newfound care given to animal rights and treatment. I also worry about jumping too deep into animal activism without ensuring many members of the human species, in America and globally, are treated with equity and fairness themselves. Thus, not only am I cautious from that perspective but skeptical of it’s usefulness at this point in time. Well..what do you all think?