Animals’ lives are greatly influenced by what happens inside the courtroom. Legal decisions can determine such serious issues as: Which animals are “worthy” of protection under the criminal animal cruelty statutes? Should animals be considered merely “property,” or sentient beings with rights of their own? Should an owner be allowed to sue to recover the full cost of treating an animal that has been intentionally hurt by someone? Should someone be arrested and criminally charged for taking undercover video of workers in a slaughterhouse brutally beating animals?

Sometimes court rulings result in landmark victories, and sometimes they result in crushing setbacks. The cases, however, are always interesting, and oftentimes controversial.

Critters in Court analyzes current legal cases from around the world and discusses the “rightness” or “wrongness” of the outcome. We encourage you to post your thoughts and comments after each article. We also invite you to become a guest writer for Critters in Court. Submit a full commentary on a recent Critters in Court post or submit a new article in which you analyze and discuss a recent case. Please send all submissions to with the subject line CRITTERS IN COURT: GUEST WRITER SUBMISSION.