History of Animal Law
In helping us understand our mission and responsibilities as animal owners it is important that we understand the history of animal law as it has developed through the centuries.
Animal law historically originated through verbal communications passed down usually in religious belief systems through families and communities. Two systems of law survived and are in use today: Roman Civil Law and English Common Law. Roman Civil Law began around 3000 year with the Twelve Tables engraved in clay and addressed trade, business and criminal activities. Roman law represented formalism, rigidity, and strict application with limited flexibility. Written law addressed both people and property. Roman law reached England around the 2nd century. By the time of the 10th century the English established their own customs and laws which later became known as English Common Law. This system believes in individualism and that the individualâ€™s rights must be protected by government. With the coming of the Normanâ€™s to England they brought with them in part the concept of legal tribunals. Law and state became one during this period without interpretation rendering useless much of the existing legal system.
The foundation of English Common Law was established in 1215 CE with the Magna Carta, which introduced courts, juries, due process, protection from excessive bail or fines, cruel and unusual punishment, and the inalienable rights of the individual. This foundation was carried to the Colonies in the United States. The Supreme court has referred over 100 times in 25 years to the Magna Carta.
In the United States English Common Law was divided into four sections: constitutional, criminal, commercial and private law.
What is Statutory Law?
Many of us have heard over the last few years that NAIS does not have statutory authority. What does this mean to you and me? Statutory authority represents the decisions of a legislature or law-governing body, separating it from court decisions. Statutory law is recorded in statute books which describe and define relationship and responsibility of government, and relationship of individuals with their government. It establishes duties in personal relationships and requires workable and applicable definitions between the interest of a person and the public. The legal principles of your state constitution is founded in this statutory law. The emphasis was on the state to protect the federal government from overstepping its bounds, although a state constitution may not violate the federal constitution. Our United States legal system is set up the Constitution, Article III, section 1.
Animals and the Law
In ancient times animals were responsible for their actions. Trials were held and if an animal was found guilty of committing a crime the law of retaliation was applied which is an eye for an eye, the animal was punished. In ancient Persia animals was dealt with as responsible beings and according to religious law. Around the 9th century you will see record of animal trials. This continued until the 1500â€™s when a French lawyer represented a group of rats. They rats had been accused of wrongfully eating citizen barley. This attorney defended the rat group. In a brilliant pleading the rats were acquitted of their crime.
Noxious wild animals were tried in Ecclesiastical court. G-d has jurisdiction over the life of an animal.
Why force capital punishment on an animal?
â€¢ If an animal has killed, injured, or damaged property it may do so again.
â€¢ By punishing the culprit the court has protected its citizens against harm.
â€¢ Punishment deters repeat offenses.
â€¢ Punishments can be aimed at animal owners.
â€¢ Animal owners could be deprived of their property or through fines to ensure compliance with maintenance and confinement guidelines.
In the past domestic animals could be arrested, tried, convicted, and killed if found guilty and had much the same status as people. They domestic creatures had legal protection under the law and in the courts. Interestingly, domestic animals were tried in civil court while wild animals were tried in religious court. Pest control in 880 CE was to put a bounty on the head of an vicious insect, swarm, or rodents. From 864 CE through the 1700â€™s records are show trails for a variety of animals from bees, swine to bovine. Jail cells and â€œtreatmentâ€ was accorded equally for accused man and beast alike. A recent case was a circus elephant who trampled a man and was sentenced to the gallows.
The following is an overview of animal law. Study it carefully as there is nothing new under the sun. What once was might well be a model of the future.
From the trenches,