University of Pennsylvania Journal of Animal Law & Ethics, Forthcoming
54 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2011
Date Written: 2011
Animal welfare organizations, such as Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute and the Humane Society of the United States, have documented for years the abuse suffered by animals used in the circus. Copious amounts of evidence support how these animals are forced to withstand poor treatment and cruel training methods, bear inordinate and less-than-adequate travel, and perform “tricks” that in nature they would not perform.
Traditionally, federal laws, such as the AWA and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), have been cited to protect these animals. Prosecution of circuses to date has been primarily focused on administrative violations whereby circuses have failed to abide by minimal standards of care and have perpetuated poor treatment of the animals used in the circus. However, the enforcement of these standards has been often lax and/or ineffective. Additionally, suits have been filed by animal welfare groups for the enforcement of the provisions of the AWA and the ESA, but these cases have proven to be costly and time-consuming.
More direct, economical, and effective strategies are necessary to protect animals used by circuses. The strategy discussed herein is the application of state anti-cruelty laws to combat the circus’s treatment of the animals that they use. This article will discuss the use of those state anti-cruelty statutes to prosecute circuses for the total experience of the animals – not simply the overt cruelty that is normally associated with the application of those statutes. While not a comprehensive review of the anti-cruelty laws for each state, this article is designed to spur creative lawyering and humane enforcement in the states for the protection of animals used by the circus. It is designed to consider state anti-cruelty laws and their use in non-obvious ways by considering the overall suffering, torment, pain, and distress of an animal’s life in the circus. The end result will hopefully be that, while animal welfare organizations file suit in federal court and spar with administrative agencies on a national scale, states and localities can join the fight in their own courts to stop the abuse of animals used by circuses through the enforcement of their own anti-cruelty laws.
Keywords: animal law, state law, anti--cruelty statutes, circuses, entertainment industry, Born Free USA, Animal Protection Institute, Humane Society of the U.S., AWA, Endangered Species Act, ESA, administrative violations, minimal standards of care, animal welfare organizations
JEL Classification: K19, K29, K39, L82
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Nemeth, Alan S. and Smith, Nicole A. and Amick, Michelle A. and Aquilino, Catrina C. and El, Meghann Moragne and Gore, Britton L. and Harada, Satoko Suki and Eun Min, Dorothy Hae and Singh, Nupinder K. and Wagner, Ashley E. and Williamson, Andrew M., Protecting Animals Used in Circuses: A Survey of State Anti-Cruelty Statutes (2011). University of Pennsylvania Journal of Animal Law & Ethics, Forthcoming; University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1934194 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1934194