Animal Rights: History and Scope of a Radical Social Movement

By Harold D. Guither | Go to book overview

14
Seeking Legal Rights for Animals

The key issues involved in litigation for animals are standing to sue and forcing a government agency to follow the intent of legislative bodies; other key issues in litigation concern animal sacrifice and religious rituals, protection of wild animals, and animal damage control programs to protect domestic livestock owned by farmers and ranchers.

Although state and federal laws insure humane treatment of animals, the existence of the law itself will not guarantee that animals will be cared for humanely. Individuals and organizations concerned about animal welfare and protection are taking legal action to force government agencies to implement more protectionist interpretations of the law.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has pioneered efforts through the courts to compel humane treatment of animals. ALDF encourages attorneys to use the laws to demand appropriate action by those responsible for animals' care and protection. Fund members believe that all animals deserve to be defended against human exploitation.


The Key Issues

The key issues involved in litigation for animals include (1) standing to sue, (2) forcing a government agency to follow the intent of legislative bodies, (3) determining legal status for animal sacrifice and religious rituals, (4) protecting wild animals, and (5) deciding on the use of animal damage control programs to protect domestic livestock owned by farmers and ranchers.

Standing to sue. In some lawsuits aimed at helping animals, the question is whether the courts will permit animal advocates the standing to sue. Standing to sue is a legal doctrine that determines the plaintiff's eligibility to bring suit and is usually decided by the presiding judge. To qualify for standing, the plaintiff must show that the conduct of the defendant will "invade a private substantive legally protected interest of the plaintiff citizen."1

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