Property Rights and Animal Rights
One economic institution that defines the place of animals in the economy is property law. Animal activists have long identified animals’ status as property as one of the most important barriers to recognizing animals’ interests, welfare, or rights. For example, Gary Francione is famous for arguing that the most important “right” that animals can claim is the right not to be the property of humans. Joan Dunayer writes that “By defining nonhuman animals as property, the law sanctions their enslavement and murder.” Because property law gives a significant amount of discretionary power to humans over and against their owned animals, the practice of animal ownership has received considerable attention among animal advocates.