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.