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Living property ~ females then, animals now ~

By: Mayumi Yamamoto

Domestic animals are counted as a property of their owners.
(I need another word; my beloved cat is my family.)

Ann Samolyk rescued her neighbor’s dog from drowning in a canal.
The dog was saved unharmed, but
Ann has been suffering from prolonged, serious damage.
The dog’s owner seemed
not to have extended any help towards Ann. Then,
Ann claimed that laws should allow her to sue for damages.

the law does not recognize her action as a rescue,
because a dog is legally counted as property, and
the rescue was intended to save the dog alone and
not a human being in peril.
So, the judge dismissed Ann’s case.

the judge went so far as to mention that
—seemingly suggesting that
it is indeed unfortunate, if not unreasonable—
the so-called rescue doctrine could not be applied to this case,
dogs can not enjoy the same legal status and dignity as human being do.
Even if
many people might have a strong attachment to
dogs, cats, and other domestic animals.

The judges must follow the law,
so they cannot rescue Ann,
even though they are sympathetic towards Ann.
For whom is the law?

Hundreds of years ago,
females were counted as the property of
Wives were husbands’, and
their daughters were their fathers’.

As a result,
if a woman was killed or injured by someone,
the criminal was punished for
the damage he caused to
the property of
its owner,
a man.

Today in Japan,
animals are counted as the property of humans.
If the disputing husband and wife claim ownership of
their beloved dog after divorce,
the dog is dealt with
as property by law.

if your dog—or for that matter, any dog—
is killed by someone,
the person is punished under the special law called
the Act on the Welfare and Management of Animals.
(This word sounds nice.)

We know
some dogs guide the blind,
some work as rescue dogs in times of disaster,
some are subordinates of police officers serving as assistants.
All of them are too loyal to protect themselves, and
that is exploited by humans.

But I do not know
how they are treated legally
if they lose their lives on duty:
as a broken property? or
as a dead body? or
somewhere in-between?

Hundreds of years ago,
women were the property of men.
What would be the legal status of domestic animals
hundreds of years later?


*Court nixes lawsuit from woman injured while rescuing dog, June 14, 2022, AP News


Mayumi Yamamoto is a writer and academic based in Kyoto, Japan. Her works have appeared in Literary Yard, and Indian Periodical. Her latest works are “House of Tenten: Story of a Cat” in The Space Ink and “My love for the photographs of 1980’s India by B.Ashok,” in RIC journal. She authored several published books in the Japanese language.

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