Published at 28 Pace Law Review 759 (2008)

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The trial of Michael Vick illustrates how our current criminal laws increasingly treat nonhuman creatures as "victims," with all of the consequences that this entails, including the possibility to order that restitution be paid to the animals. In light of these considerations, it is fair to say that from a purely descriptive point of view, nonhuman creatures can qualify for victimhood. This does not mean, however, that this conclusion is normatively appealing. Some have argued that this approach is profoundly misguided, given that the criminal law should only aim to safeguard the rights of humans.

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