The Young Scholar Presentations have been presented by Steven Wise, the chair of the panel and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project.
The First presenter is Moe Honjo. She just finished two LL.M. degrees, in animal law and in environmental law. She has plans to continue her education an will be seeking a PhD in Japan. She spoke about Japanese animal law and the dramatic changes to animal shelters in Japan.
Japanese culture and Animal Shelters in Japan
Moe believes that the law should be the vehicle used to help increase animal welfare in Japan. Recently, the Japanese Animal Welfare Act was amended to include provisions for animal shelter staff.
History of animal shelters in Japan
Originally, animal shelters were built to kill animals. The shelter Moe visited in Kyoto had many dogs kept together in one cage. There were only 4-5 rooms and the facility was built so that no interaction between people and animals had to take place. This was because of a fear of rabies transmission. However, rabies has not been found in Japan for almost 60 years.
In Kyoto, there are no facilities for cats, only dogs. Thus, almost 70% of animals put down in shelters are cats. Because the shelter must put down so many animals, both cats and dogs, they do not have information about the specific animals in the shelter for fear of public criticism. This makes it hard for individuals to recover lost pets or find suitable companions. Some cities have started to rebuild their animal shelters. After 20 years of discussion on whether to rebuild, one shelter has been updated with both cat and multipurpose facilities.
Cat café’s have grown in popularity in Japan. It began as a business idea, but now they are turning into cat shelters. Normally, shelters are not built in middle of city because of dog barking, however cat café’s are okay since cats do not bark. Cat café’s are a place to relax, read books, and pet cats. To enter, one must pay a fee that allows the visitor to stay for a set duration of time. When the time is up, the visitor must purchase a drink or pay more money to stay longer.
Her book mainly discusses companion animals, but also discusses other animals in captivity. She hopes this will help expand Japan’s knowledge about other animals and see similarities between the pets they love and animals such as pigs and cows.
The second speaker is Lois Lelanchon, who is a PhD candidate at the UAB and works for Humane Society International.
He is speaking about the comparison between French and Spanish animal law. Spain and France are both civil law countries and animals are either considered as moveable or immovable assets depending on where they are located. The exception is in Catalonia, Spain where animals are not considered things, but there is no expression of what they are considered to be.
Wild animals living in the wild are not covered by anti-cruelty provisions in either France or Spain.
The definition of domestic animal in France is an animal that lives under human surveillance and not only under his roof. The list of domestic animals is based on artificial selection, and not on the fact of keeping the animal. On the other hand, in Spain, it is not as clear what animals are considered “domestic.”
In France, if someone, in public or otherwise, seriously maltreats, including sexual maltreatment, towards an animal, or commits an act of cruelty on any domestic or tame animal, or any animal held in captivity, it is punishable by two years imprisonment and a 30,000 euro fine. While in Spain, is someone unjustifiably maltreats a domestic or tame animal, causing it death or injuries likely to cause severe physical harm, it is punishable by only a 3 months – 1 year in jail.
Bullfighting in France was introduced in 1853 and gradually expanded. The maltreatment of domestic animals in public is prohibited, however the law was not enforced and then in 1951 bullfighting was specifically exempted from the cruelty law. The courts in France have upheld the practice of bullfighting. It is not only lawful but constitutional as well. There are 66 towns in France were bullfighting is specifically allowed.
In Spain, bullfighting’s origin is unclear. Animal protection laws do not cover bullfighting and bulls are not considered domestic animals. Bullfighting falls under “lawful shows” and the severe maltreatment that bulls endure is “justified” and therefore outside the scope of the cruelty law. Catalonia and the Canary Islands have been banned bullfighting, however it is still legal in Spain generally.
Cock fighting is also allowed in France and Spain. In France it has been lawful since 1964 and is a tradition in local communities. The criminal provisions in France do not apply to cock fighting.
In Spain, cock fighting is allowed in 3 autonomous communities: the Canary Islands, Murcia, and Andalusia.
We need to bring coherence between civil and criminal legal standards in these countries to legally acknowledge sentience of animals. Wild animals should be included in the scope of anti-cruelty laws. There should also be a legal recognition of their sentience. Moreover, penalties need to be increased for animal cruelty and the laws that exist need to be enforced. Cruel, but lawful practices severely undermine the value of animals. Education is necessary to increase awareness of these issues and bring about change.
The next presentation was by Christina Becares, a professor of UAB and a graduate in law and criminology. She completed the master’s program in Animal Law & Society and is part of the research group. Presenting with her is Maria Gonzales. She has formed a law firm exclusively dedicated to animal law in Spain. They will be giving an update of Spanish Animal Law.
Reports of dog abuse in Spain are always increasing. In 2008, there were 7,327 and in 2013, there were 13,809 reports of dog abuse. The current situation and challenges in Spanish law include: (1) that the law considers animals as things; (2) that animals receive different protection according to the autonomous community where they are located; (3) the practice of public administrations are not utilized or effective; and (4) jurisprudence about animal law legislation is still undeveloped and disorganized.
Legal Treatment As Things
The criminal code does not punish animal abuse when animals do not suffer or if the act is justified. Spanish courts are still limited in considering animals’ interests because they are considered “things” under the law. However, there has been some progress in Spain. For example, Catalonia has declared that animals are not things. Several autonomous communities recognize animals as sentient beings and in almost all communities live animals cannot be used for prizes, rewards, or publicity.
Animal Protection Level Depends on the Region
There is a different animal protection act in each autonomous community in Spain. For example, the deadline to recover a dog in Galicia is 20 days, while in Murcia, the deadline is only two days. Fines for infractions also vary greatly between communities. Progress has occurred with the new National Act for Commerce and Responsible Possession of Dogs and Cats, which bans the mutilation of animals, the sale of animals at pet shops, regulates donation contracts for animals, as well as for the transport of dogs and cats.
Administrative obstacles for animal protection
There is a lack of awareness about these issues, competency questions due to the complex political situation in Spain, difficulties with precautionary measures, reluctance to impose high fines, and administrative inaction. Public discouragement should continue to put pressure on authorities and institutions to act and prosecute abuse.
Increasing Jurisprudence still needs to be consolidated.
The general principle in Spain is that judicial interpretations are limited to the law in the civil law system and are bound to follow it. There has been progress in comparing abandonment of a child and of a dog by a judge. Additionally, sentences have been including secondary measures such as banning the abuser from working with animals, as well as acquiring or using them. There has also been recognition of moral damages when companion animals are injured or killed. Additionally, animal abuse can be an act of omission, as for the willful neglect to care for an animal.
The legal treatment of animals needs to reflect the treatment of animals according to their nature, as sentient beings. The legislative development of the criminal code and the National Act for Commerce and Responsible Possession of Dogs and Cats has been good, however there are areas that still need to be improved, as with the use of animals in entertainment, which is completely allowed. We must increase social awareness and encourage public administration to take action to benefit animals. However, we can see that animal law in Spain is progressing and we must continue this trend.
The final speaker was Samuel Leon Martinez. His degree is from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and he is currently pursuing a PhD. He has been published in the Harvard Law Review, as well as in other prestigious journals. He spoke about the progress and challenges of animal law in Mexico.
In the early 20th century, wetland protection was enacted to prevent the extinction of species. Today, local laws governing the protection of animals require reporting of animal abuse within 36 hours. An official Mexican standard law from 1995 regulates the humane slaughter of both wild and domestic animals. For example, food animals must be rendered senseless prior to death by electrodes, a captive bolt gun, or other means.
Federal laws regulate and protect animals in Mexico. Official transportation standards were enacted in 1995 detailing animal welfare during transportation. For example, chickens cannot be transported more than 100 per cage. It also provides for intervals of rest during long journeys for agricultural animals.
The law still does not regulate the sale of animals on public roads, the proof of purchase for pets, registration of domestic animals, micro chipping and vaccinating animals. There has also been strong resistance to regulate the breeding and selling of animals. The public market sells many wild animals such as turtles, eagles, serpents, etc., however there is no regulation over what animals are sold in these markets or where they come from.
In 2014, a law on protocol policing was enacted defining animal welfare as the state in which the animal has satisfied its health, behavior, and psychological needs, and provides that animals should be guaranteed the five freedoms determined by the Brambell Committee.
There is a total ban on animal circuses in 5 states, with 9 others that have enacted restrictions on animal circuses. There are many cases of animal cruelty in circuses, from starvation to amputations. PROFEPA implemented a national program to inspect circuses in 2013 and 2014. Out of the 63 circuses inspected, 38 had irregularities, and 96 animals were confiscated.
Regulations on bullfighting
3 states with municipalities have enacted bans;
5 states have declared bullfighting as a cultural heritage;
Only the state of Sonora has enacted a total ban on bullfighting.
LL.M. Animal Law
Lewis & Clark