This article provides an overivew of animal-related legislation from 2003.
The sixth annual edition of Animal Law ’s Legislative Review addresses the passage, defeat, and pending status of a broad spectrum of state and federal animal legislative action in 2003. It is exciting to witness, as well as contribute to, the changing public ethic regarding animals. As seen over the last year, the law is gradually recognizing animals as sentient beings worthy of protection. Unfortunately, there are also strong legislative efforts to minimize their value. This edition covers the most noteworthy of these positive and negative actions.
Ms. Andrea Gyger reports on major pieces of federal legislation, including a bill that would end the use of the inhumane steel-jaw leghold trap in the United States; the Downed Animal Protection Act, which would require regulations providing for the humane treatment, handling, and immediate euthanasia of downed livestock; the Truth in Tuna Labeling Act of 2003, which would further the protective intent of the dolphin-safe label on canned tuna; and a discussion on the Whaling Resolution, which expresses the United States’ opposition to commercial whaling and its international leadership in the effort to conserve whale populations.
Mr. Joshua Hodes reports on state legislation in 2003, including states’ efforts to pass a constitutional right to hunt and other efforts to increase hunting opportunities; an update on felony and anti-cruelty legislation, including the passage of landmark legislation in Maine and Connecticut; legislation in New Jersey and Massachusetts that would protect students from academic penalty if they choose to not participate in class projects requiring the dissection of animals; and the development of a program in California adding vegetarian lunches to school menus.
In 2003, we saw states tackling cruelty issues for the first time. For example, Connecticut is the first state to address the confining or tethering of dogs, and Maine is the first to pass legislation protecting elephants used for entertainment. Unfortunately, both laws passed in a diluted form from their original intent, but it remains a positive step toward obtaining increased protections for all animals. It is my desire that other states will soon follow their courageous lead.
We hope this section is useful in monitoring important changes in animal law. Animal Law Review welcomes suggestions for the publication of future legislative reviews.
Legislative Review Editor