The intersection between animal protection and animal cruelty laws is a critical area of study for animal advocates. Animal abuse and animal neglect laws serve as a benchmark for societal expectations about how animals should be treated.
Animal cruelty laws historically focused on the property rights of animal owners or on social sensibilities. Modern law, however, increasingly protects animals for their own sake, recognizing that animals are victimized by crimes committed against them. This shift toward recognizing the interests of the animals themselves is resulting in improvements to animal cruelty laws, from expanding the definition of “animal” in animal cruelty laws, to providing more detailed guidance for how animals should be cared for by their guardians, to more robust sentencing options (such as psychological evaluations, treatment and more).
In light of this progress, animal advocates may be surprised to discover that animal cruelty laws may still fall short and that a variety of enhancements to the law can improve the lives of animals. Our Crimes Against Animals course, taught by Professor David B. Rosengard, Managing Attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, provides a comprehensive overview of how the criminal law in the U.S. and abroad responds when the victim of a crime is a non-human animal.
What conduct is explored in Crimes Against Animals?
The Crimes Against Animals course focuses on criminal activities that victimize animals. It explores which conduct towards animals is implicated by criminal law, why that conduct has been defined as crimes against animals, how laws affecting crimes against animals function, and the parties involved in criminal cases. Crimes Against Animals also looks at animal protection laws in terms of substance and how these laws are applied in the real world. The course addresses the broad range of criminal law issues germane to animal protection.
The course engages with crimes against animals from a variety of perspectives including judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, victims’ rights attorneys, law enforcement agents, and political activists. And, of course, it considers the rights and interests of the animals who are victimized. It focuses primarily on jurisdictions within the U.S., but also highlights laws from other countries to demonstrate other approaches to addressing crimes against animals.
The course is for any student interested in criminal law, animal law, and the overlap and juxtaposition between the two. This course is especially relevant for any student with an interest in preventing or responding to crimes against animals, who anticipates representing parties in animal crime cases, or who works or plans to work in animal protection.
How Do Alumni Use their Degrees to Help Protect Animals from Crimes?
The Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) at Lewis & Clark Law School provides a Master of Laws (LLM, for lawyers) or a Master of Studies in Law (MSL, for non-lawyers) in animal law. Both degrees are available to U.S. or international students. The advanced degrees equip both lawyers and non-lawyers interested in animal protection with a robust and specialized examination of animal law to work in academia, nonprofit, business, government, law firms, and more. The LLM in Animal Law is the world’s only advanced legal degree in Animal Law, and the MSL is the first Animal Law master’s degree in the U.S.
Our alumni use their degrees to improve the lives of animals, such as these alumni who are working in the area of criminal law:
- Gladys Kamasanyu ‘20 (Uganda) is the head of Africa’s first and only specialized wildlife court and has successfully adjudicated many high-profile wildlife cases involving illicit wildlife products like elephant ivory, pangolin scales, rhino horns, and hippopotamus teeth. She also founded Help African Animals, which raises awareness about wildlife crimes and other crimes committed against animals.
- Paul Kadushi ‘20 (Tanzania) has focused his career on fighting illicit wildlife trafficking through prosecution. Acting as Chief Prosecution Attorney of wildlife cases in Tanzania, he led a team of prosecutors in prosecuting high-level wildlife and organized crime offenders. He has worked closely with the INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group and INTERPOL Project Wisdom, which is an initiative created to conserve elephants and rhinos.
- Judy Muriithi ‘19 (Kenya) works for Wildlife Direct, a nonprofit organization that strives to keep an eye on how wildlife cases are prosecuted in Kenya. WildlifeDirect also provides prosecutorial support to prosecutors and investigators. Judy is responsible for prosecuting seizure cases and other criminal activities that relate to wildlife. She also completed research on the developments in the prosecution of wildlife crime cases by courts in Kenya, which helped government agencies create wildlife protection policies.
- Jessica Chapman ‘21 (United States) is a Criminal Justice Fellow at the Animal Legal Defense Fund. She is also interested in establishing a nonprofit that will focus on the relationship between past or learned violence – in animal agriculture, retail, research, and entertainment industries – and spikes in community violence. Her goal is that this nonprofit will provide recovery and therapy programs to self-identified abusers or individuals who courts convict of abuse. The nonprofit will also provide educational outreach about the effects of work-related learned violence on human and non-human animal relationships to teens, community members, and individuals that work in industries that rely on non-human animals, such as agriculture, retail, research, and entertainment.