Kelsey Kobil


Animal rights activists are currently filing lawsuits naming animals as plaintiffs hoping that courts will grant animals legal personhood status and standing to file lawsuits on their own behalf. Currently, animals are designated as property in the United States. If courts grant animals legal personhood status, animals would no longer be classified as property, but instead would hold the same legal rights as humans.

Several courts have grappled with the issue of granting animals standing to file lawsuits, and--other than a Ninth Circuit decision that was later explicitly dismissed as dicta by the same circuit-all have declined to do so. Congress has likewise chosen not to grant animals legal rights. Additionally, although there are numerous statutory protections afforded to animals, these safeguards fall short of granting animals complete personhood rights.

This Comment will examine animals' historical classification as property and the standing doctrine as it relates to animals, arguing that the common law's treatment of animals should not change. Numerous negative consequences will result from granting animals standing to file lawsuits. Animals should not have rights, and adapting and expanding the existing legal protection afforded to animals can better protect animal welfare. A guardianship model could be implemented to expand standing and enable humans to file suit on behalf of animals.



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