Policing Farm Animal Welfare in Federated Nations: The Problem of Dual Federalism in Canada and the USA.

Research paper by Terry L TL Whiting

Indexed on: 01 Jan '13Published on: 01 Jan '13Published in: Animals : an open access journal from MDPI


In recent European animal welfare statutes, human actions injurious to animals are new "offences" articulated as an injury to societal norms in addition to property damage. A crime is foremost a violation of a community moral standard. Violating a societal norm puts society out of balance and justice is served when that balance is returned. Criminal law normally requires the presence of mens rea, or evil intent, a particular state of mind; however, dereliction of duties towards animals (or children) is usually described as being of varying levels of negligence but, rarely can be so egregious that it constitutes criminal societal injury. In instrumental justice, the "public goods" delivered by criminal law are commonly classified as retribution, incapacitation and general deterrence. Prevention is a small, if present, outcome of criminal justice. Quazi-criminal law intends to establish certain expected (moral) standards of human behavior where by statute, the obligations of one party to another are clearly articulated as strict liability. Although largely moral in nature, this class of laws focuses on achieving compliance, thereby resulting in prevention. For example, protecting the environment from degradation is a benefit to society; punishing non-compliance, as is the application of criminal law, will not prevent the injury. This paper will provide evidence that the integrated meat complex of Canada and the USA is not in a good position to make changes to implement a credible farm animal protection system.