The international trade of live animals, especially animals sold for slaughter, creates significant challenges for international law. Nonhuman animals do not fit neatly into the legal world created by humans. In nearly every jurisdiction, animals are property, but they are not like all other property. The sentience of animals has been widely recognized and it forms the basis of anticruelty laws where they exist. You may destroy your toaster any way you like, but the laws of most jurisdictions protect how you treat your dog. This fractured point in the law, animals as property and yet not exactly property, is the source of confusion in national laws, leading to unsatisfactory answers to questions such as what damages should be paid when a companion animal is negligently killed or whether individuals should own wildlife as “pets.”
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