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Why do lawyers refer to long documents as briefs and
18-year olds as infants? Why do they use so much Latin when so few of their
clients are Ancient Romans? Is it a conspiracy?


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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Word of the Week

Companion Animal


Under various state animal cruelty statutes, a "companion animal" is an animal that is commonly considered a pet. Under New York law, the crime of aggravated cruelty to animals applies only to abuse of domesticated animals. In the landmark case of People v. Garcia, it was finally settled that pet goldfish do indeed qualify as "companion animals" -- just in case anyone was considering taking away their little plastic castle.

Update!

In a cosmic coincidence, the very funny Supreme Court Jester has taken up the goldfish/companion animal theme. He has written a detailed post about the rights of goldfish -- including goldfish divorce law!

6 comments:

supremecourtjester said...

Companion animal? I'll remember that when I take my goldfish for a walk, or it licks my face.

Adam Freedman said...

I know SCJ, but the law's the law -- you should know, having written the definitive blog post on goldfish rights:
http://www.supremecourtjester.blogspot.com/

mila said...

On the flip side, almost all state cruelty laws have broad exemptions for the mostly undefined phrase “accepted animal husbandry practices.” (See e.g., Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.50(b)(7), S.C. Code Ann. § 47-1-40(C), Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 42.09(h), etc.). In a similarly groundbreaking - but unpublished - case, a New York court found that having impaled, starving and dying chickens living in their own feces was most likely an accepted husbandry practice. Many animal cruelty laws continue to narrow the applicability of cruel acts by creating extremely narrow definitions of “animals” that specifically exempt all kinds of animals including those used in rodeos, etc. (See e.g., U.C.A. 1953 § 76-9-301). In other words –dude - give a goldfish a break. (And, either way, I’m pretty sure that taking away their little plastic castle wouldn’t amount to aggravated cruelty).

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