Animal Law Review

First Page



As the mass incarceration crisis skyrocketed, the animal protection movement adopted many of the mechanisms of the carceral state. Improving the status of animals was equated with pushing for lengthier sentences for those who caused harm to animals, placing more people into cages for longer periods of time. This disproportionally harmed Black, Indigenous, and People of the Global Majority (BIPGM) communities who are the most heavily policed, surveilled, and imprisoned. Allying with the carceral state has also harmed animals-advocates are labeled terrorists, potential allies are dissuaded from action, and companion animals are killed by officers of the state. This approach is both cruel and ineffective. It does nothing to address the root causes of harm to animals and betrays the core liberationist values of the movement. Many in the mainstream animal protection movement have begun to agree with and incorporate criticisms of an overly carceral approach but remain unsure of where to go next. This Article proposes an alternative paradigm, drawing lessons from the prison abolition movement, that adopts a harm prevention approach to animal protection. Through divesting from carceral solutions and investing in new ways to prevent harm and respond to those who cause harm, the animal protection movement can effectively ally with other social justice organizations and be true to its core values in creating a world that is better for all living beings.

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