Instructor(s): Angela Fernandez

For graduate students, the course number is LAW7020HF.

Note: The Quercus program will be used for this course. 

Nonhuman animals are traditionally categorized in the law as property. Yet they are living and sentient and hence are importantly different from other forms of property, a fact that is acknowledged in the views many, if not most, people have about domestic companion animals. Wild animals are owned, when they are owned, in a different way. Agricultural animals, because they are produced for food, are treated differently again. There are research animals, from primates to mice and fish. And there are animals that are used for entertainment in zoos and circuses. All of these groups of nonhuman animals have few very legal protections and are thereby made extremely vulnerable to use and abuse. 

This course will analyze the history of the legal treatment of these different kinds of nonhuman animals, asking throughout about the limits of a sentient or living property concept when its objects are also subjects with some (albeit weak) legal rights. Topics to be explored will include federal anti-cruelty protection and provincial welfare legislation in Canada, the persons v. property debate and emerging alternatives to it, Indigenous perspectives on nonhuman animals and how a history of conflict with the animal rights movement can be recreated in cooperative terms, wild animals (in and not in captivity), fish and other aquatic animals given the special considerations they raise, recent “ag gag” legislation in Canada, and “clean meat” and other game-changers that will make it possible to move away from relying on nonhuman animals for food. 

Evaluation in the class will be 10% participation, based on attendance and input on class discussion on a regular basis, and 90% 8-hour take-home examination with questions based on the course readings and other materials, lectures, and class discussions. A limited number of students may elect to write a SUYRP paper in the course, which would replace the take-home examination, leaving a 10% participation grade. Graduate students may exercise the option of writing a 30-40-page paper (7,500-10,000 words) on a topic related to the course and approved by the professor.
Academic year
2022 - 2023

At a Glance

First Term
Perspective course



47 JD


T: 2:10 - 3:30 pm
Th: 2:10 - 3:30 pm