All About Estates

Animal Rights and The Cycle of the Moon

If you were looking at the sky last night you would have seen the moon at its closest point to Earth. This is something apparently that happens every couple of decades with the last time this happened over 30 years ago. Before it turned red it was impressive with the moon so close how the darker shades of ridges on the surface were clearly visible to the naked eye.

The fact the moon swings this close every couple of decades caused me to reflect on how the law swings back and forth over the decades but with each swing it tends to move forward a little further and in this way after 20 or 30 years the law evolves and (tries to) keep up with our changing society.

A well-known example from this year is the Supreme Court decision in Carter which moved the law (leap frogged some would say) since the Rodriquez decision 20 years earlier. In Quebec in an attempt to modernize their animal protection laws to make them more in line with Ontario and other provinces has introduced Bill 54.

What is progressive about this law is that animals are to be recognized as “sentient beings”.  Animals are no longer property.  The pig, sheep, cattle and chicken farmers and pet owners would need to look at their animals not as property they own but beings that have feelings, feel pain and have “emotions”.

What does this mean for those who wish to ensure their animals are looked after upon their (the owners’) death?  Will this still be able to be done? Creative drafting no doubt would arguably be needed since animals as sentient beings would not be able to be “left” in a Will to a person of the testator’s choosing for the rest of the animal’s natural life.  Some would argue this could still be done if it is characterized as the appointment of a guardian for the animals; others would argue this development means no change as ensuring animals are looked after (by leaving them to someone in your Will) is consistent with them being “sentient beings”.

Only time will tell … to the next 20 years and the rights of animals.

Until next time,  Jasmine

About Jasmine Sweatman