Ron and Mary Park have presented an interesting question for review: are dogs livestock? The couple run a dog kennel located on property with an easement held by the United States. Any commercial enterprise is prohibited except for livestock farming. The district court ruled that dogs are not livestock but the Ninth Circuit was not so sure and remanded for further proceedings.
The Ninth Circuit went back to the Middle Ages in its quest for the meaning of livestock.
The term “livestock” stems from the Middle Ages, when it was used as a measure of wealth or to refer to property that could be moved, particularly to a market for trade. Online Etymology Dictionary, http://www.etymonline.com (last visited July 25, 2008). Later, the term began to be used
in a more limited sense to describe cattle. Id. Today, the dictionary definition of “livestock” is sweeping, capturing every type of domesticated animal. For example, Merriam-
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “livestock” as “animals kept or raised for use or pleasure; esp: farm animals kept for use and profit.” MERRIAM-WEBSTER COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 728 (11th ed. 2003). The Oxford English Dictionary is in accord and defines “livestock” as “animals, esp. on a farm, regarded as an asset.” THE CONCISE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF CURRENT ENGLISH 797 (9th ed. 1995).5 Even Black’s Law Dictionary defines “livestock” broadly as “domestic animals and fowls that (1) are kept for profit or pleasure, (2) can normally be confined within boundaries without seriously impairing their utility, and (3) do not normally intrude on others’ land in such a way as to harm the land or growing crops.” BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 953 (8th ed. 2004); see also Levine v. Conner, 540 F. Supp. 2d 1113, 1116 (N.D. Cal. 2008) (analyzing the dictionary definitions of the word “livestock” and observing that “the scope of domestic animals used or raised on a farm can potentially extend to guinea pigs, cats, dogs, fish, ants, and bees.”).
I am as liberal as the next guy, but having just watched a friend’s guinea pig for a week, I would have to draw the line there at commercially viable animals.
The interesting question is the purpose of the exclusion — which may be the need for access to water or passage for herds. It may throw into question the exception for all livestock in the future. Why should a commercial enterprise for sheep be given preference over a commercial enterprise for sheepdogs?
It seems to reinforce the proclamation in the Animal Farm that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.
For the full opinion, click here
Thanks to Howard Bashman at How Appealing (linked on this page) for spotting the opinion.
11 thoughts on “Some Animals are More Equal Than Others: Ninth Circuit Rules on Whether Dogs are Livestock”
Kansas had a similar case: Weber v. Board of Franklin County Commissioners, 20 Kan. App. 2d 152, 884 P.2d 1169 (1994).
That said, Kansas statutes conveniently exempt greyhounds from the definition of “dog”. K.S.A. 47-1701(j)
On the BBC this A.M. they had bush on, saying something like, “to invade a sovereign country in the 21 century is unacceptable”. Unless this century began in 2004 I would say some animals are more equal than others!
Dog breeding is a big industry, I have a relative who flies to Europe a couple of times a year to buy purebreds of a certain rare breed to breed or sell. I do see your point, I guess we have to draw the line somewhere, and like most things theres going to be a “Yeah but…” example.
Maybe I’ve been working with them too long, but it actually makes sense to me. One-off rules are a nightmare for everyone, so there’s only three buckets at the federal level. Basically pets, livestock, and zoo animals. I know they track livestock to contain the spread of infectious diseases. They would have authority to track commercial traffic of domestic animals (that is, pet breeders), but I don’t know if they do at the federal level. Again, if so it’s to contain infectious diseases.
They don’t have authority, under the Commerce Clause, to track non-commercial traffic. (I think… but maybe there’s a presumption that -all- interstate movement of farm animals is commercial in nature. You don’t take your cow with you on vacation.)
State and local laws vary, of course, and usually have additional requirements. E.g., local laws requiring rabies vaccinations of domestic animals.
It might feel like a pain, but imagine buying a new animal to improve your genetic diversity and having a quarter of your animals die because of a disease. You would not be happy, but it could be impossible to know how much you could trust the sender’s assurance that the animal was disease-free. Remember that large livestock operations have their own staff vets and often move hundreds or thousands of animals at a time… and the pain of one-off regulations. Mandatory inspections can fix that.
I used to make a potload of money raising show and pet quality guinea pigs. They are definitly commercially viable. However, would you believe the government makes you have an exotic animal license and be inspected as if they were wild or something. They have been domesticated in the Americas since prehistoric times–Government regulations have little relation to reality…..
Obama Calls for UN to Pass Resolution Condemning Russia, Forgets Russia Has UNSC Veto
Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 5:55:12 pm PDT
An astoundingly bone-headed statement from Barack Obama today, as he calls for the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Georgia.
Memo to the Obama campaign: Russia has veto power in the United Nations Security Council.
But those are working dogs — you aren’t raising them to eat, milk or shear, or to sell to other people for the same purpose.
You can say the same thing about horses, to further complicate the issue. A lot of people keep their own horses, but it requires a significant investment in shelter and roaming area. A lot of dogs live in urban apartments.
BTW I work with the USDA and know there’s a huge legal difference with them. Personal pets can be moved across state lines without vet exams or documentation. Livestock and exotics (zoo animals), you gotta file some paperwork.
Ask Keith Olbermann. I am sure he will pontificate and announce that the whole world knew what the answer was until Bush was elected.
I have to disagree with you a little on dogs. Some dogs are pets, but there are still a lot of working dogs out there. I know a few ranchers and shepherds whose dogs help them with the herd or flock. Plus there’s all the dogs that get used for hunting, service animals, etc.
As to guinea pigs–au contraire! They are raised as livestock in some countries (and I’m putting this delicately in case any of them are reading this page)!
That was a dead on description of livestock and men!
Some people in Colorado have successfully claimed the annual visit of bees (via visiting beekeepers) constitutes agricultural use of their ranchette. (Read: greatly reduced property taxes.) Does that mean beehives are ‘livestock’? In any case I think this is more defensible than the usual “rent a cow for a day” plan for ex-urbanites with their 35 acre spreads.(*)
It depends on state law, etc., but there’s usually significant legal status with/without livestock status. E.g., the right to keep the animal in residential areas (anti-livestock), the right to sue for financial loss when the animal is killed or injured (pro-livestock), etc.
Hmm… I see their point, but there are two good counterarguments. First, livestock status is usually on the basis of species. You don’t want to deal with somebody claiming he has a right to keep is pet cow in his 1 bdrm urban apartment. Dogs are domestic animals, not barnyard animals.
Second, ‘livestock’ usually lives off the land, at least theoretically. Cattle, horses, sheep, etc., can just graze. Dogs? Not so much.
(*) 35 acres is the magic number that exempts a parcel from zoning oversight in unincorporated areas.
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