Milwaukee, WI asked in Agricultural Law and Animal / Dog Law for Wisconsin

Q: Why aren't there any federal laws that protect all animals?

I find it troubling that the states can choose what is defined as an "animal" and what is considered a crime against them. Why aren't there any federal laws that protect all animals? The AWA does not count. Doing research, I've found that all states have animal abuse laws, but they are all different. They define what an animal is and what abuse is differently. Why can't there be a federal law that states this? Is it written somewhere? Again, I'm disregarding the AWA because it doesn't include all animals and it applies to "persons or organizations engaged in using them for research or experimental purposes or for exhibition purposes or holding them for sale as pets or for any such purpose or use", not individuals. I'm asking this here because I don't know where to go for this information. Even if you can't answer my question, I'd be appreciative if you can point me in the right direction.

1 Lawyer Answer
Emmanuel Muwonge
Emmanuel Muwonge
  • Wauwatosa, WI
  • Licensed in Wisconsin

A: The Act you took issue with was not intended to regulate how animals are used for research purposes, but only to set standards for how they are obtained and maintained at a facility

APHIS's Animal Care (AC) program oversees the AWA, which includes about 10,300 facilities. These AC officials make unannounced facility inspections to ensure they are in compliance with regulations, and to identify unregistered facilities. If you are interested in the enforcement of standards governing how individuals treat animals, this appears to be one such regulation.

Please note that under the USDA definition of animal, you will find that most warm-blooded animals are covered although said regulations appear to exclude birds, rats and mice bred for use in research.

Additionally, The Humane Slaughter Act, or the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act found at 7 U.S.C. 1901 et seq.) is a US Federal regulation intended to address the suffering of livestock during their slaughter. The USDA enforces this law under their Food Safety and Inspection Services. The proper treatment and humane handling of all food animals slaughtered in USDA inspected slaughter plants is the subject of this Act. As such, I would argue that it does, indeed, address the conduct of individuals which is your concern if I understood your query correctly.

I am not sure if I have provided you with any meaningful information and therefore encourage you to please advise so that I may try to address what exactly you are trying to figure out. I must say that I don't do Animal Law and simply trying to provide you with the little information available to me. As such, this is not legal advice of course.

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