Animal's Legal Rights in the USA
Animals are treated differently. While you show love and compassion to a cute puppy by the road, you might not do the same to a piglet. Most of us grew up knowing that dogs are pets and pigs are food. There's no logic or ethic in how we all think, but there must be some way to save animals from going extinct.
The United States of America has specific laws in place to ensure animals are protected. The country has considered animals to be property owned by individuals, and how they are treated depends on their owners.
With time, the country felt the necessity of ensuring the animals are protected from abuse and safe. This has led to the development of laws highlighting how humans should treat animals. The laws focus on animal welfare and consider animal abuse a criminal offense.
Let's take a look at the laws protecting animals in the US.
1. The Animal Welfare Act
The primary federal animal protection law, the Animal Welfare Act, was signed and passed as law in 1966. The law sheds light on the ways animals should be treated in exhibitions, research, transport, and by dealers. The AWA ensures that the animals are kept comfortable and are not stressed and also that they are euthanized humanely.
Despite being the primary law in the United States, it has been criticized by many as it allows many inhumane activities on animals, thus destroying the entire motive of protecting animals.
2. The "28-hour' law
Enacted in 1873, the "28-hour" law asks vehicles transporting animals for slaughter to halt every 28 hours to let the animals exercise, eat and drink water. However, if the vehicle transporting the animals have food and water, the law does not come into effect. Also, birds like chicken and turkey that are transported in massive amounts are exempted from this law.
3. Endangered Species Act
One of the most important things all countries must look into is protecting animals from going extinct. There are many endangered animals that need protection. The Endangered Species Act aims to protect such animals by prohibiting killing, harming, or harnessing them. Adding on, the Act also restricts the selling of products made from these animals.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) overlook the enforcement of this act. The agencies do the research and list the species that are near extinction, protect their habitat, and offer funds to research and conservation efforts.
4. Animal Fighting Prohibition Act
There are cases where animals are transported from one state to another for fights. The Animal Fighting Prohibition Act aims to prohibit such transports and protect animals from getting involved in such acts. It is one of the important acts for animal protection. It protects dogs, roosters, and other birds from such cruel acts. One found guilty of violating AFPA can face serious consequences.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the United States Department of Agriculture are responsible for enforcing the law in the country.
5. The Lacey Act
One of the first federal laws enacted to protect wildlife, the Lacey Act, aims to prevent the illegal trade of animals and plants. The act was enacted in 1990, and since then, it has helped in controlling the international trafficking of endangered and threatened species. It also considers the falsification of documents a serious crime and enforces serious civil and criminal penalties for all not abiding by the law.
6. The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act
The law came into effect in 2010 with an aim to ban the production, distribution, or sale of videos showing acts of animal cruelty. A similar kind of law was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1999. However, a thorough investigation by the Human Society of the United States prompted legislators to look into the matter and take charge. The act makes sure that the ones who spread such content and the ones involved in such gruesome acts get severely punished.
7. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act
The PACT Act takes the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act forward and considers all forms of animal cruelty a federal crime. The production, distribution, or sale of animal cruelty videos did not come under the radar, thanks to social media. With PACT in place, these are considered federal crimes, and there are punishments for people involved in such acts. PACT got support from all, and it helped in the approval and enforcement of this landmark law.
8. The Shark Conservation Act
Enacted in 2011 by President Barack Obama, the Shark Conservation Act aims to ban shark finning in the US. Almost 73 million sharks are killed each year in the US, and this act is enforced to ban killing and shark fining. The law also ensures that the sharks who are brought to ports must have their fins attached, thus restricting the practice of dumping the bodies of sharks after cutting their fins.
The US considers controlling inhumane practices and saving animals. The legal rights for animals have gone through various amendments, and the ones we see today are after considering various aspects.
Despite various laws in place, it is of no help to species that need the most protection, such as farm fish, chickens, pigs, and cows. If the US emphasizes the need to protect animals, the country must take measures to do so irrespectively of the species. It is high time all countries consider enforcing laws to protect and save animals.