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Specific times for each session will be announced shortly.

Sept 29 - Sessions

Friday, September 29


North American Animal Law Conference

The weekend will kick off with an entire day devoted to the North American Animal Law Conference, in the lead-up to the main Conference. The program for this special day features a Scholars Track of presentations, offered in partnership with the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law & Policy.

Scholars Track: Social Norms in Animal Cultures

September 29 from 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Speaker: Kristin Andrews

Social norms—rules governing which behaviors are deemed appropriate or inappropriate within a given community—are typically taken to be uniquely human. Recently, this position has been challenged. The view that norms are human unique stems from commitments regarding the psychological capacities required for having them, and skepticism that animals possess these prerequisites. However, among norm cognition researchers there is little agreement about the cognitive architecture that underpins social norms in humans. To make progress on the question, we need to find a point of agreement in terms of an operationalized account of social norms. We propose examining normative regularities: a socially maintained pattern of behavioral conformity within a community (Westra and Andrews, 2022). Using this construct, Kristin will briefly present three potential cases in primates and discuss the sort of evidence that would be needed to conclude that they qualify as normative regularities. Kristin considers two objections: that social norms involve following rules with deontic content (and animals don’t do that), and that having social norms requires punishing non-compliant actors (and animals don’t do that). Kristin will conclude with some practical and theoretical implications.

Scholars Track: Animal Welfare and the Validity of Animal-Based Biomedical Research

Friday, September 29 from 11:00 a.m - 12:30 p.m.

Speaker: Georgia Mason

Animal welfare scientists have long suggested that the constrained lives of lab animals could affect the quality of the data they yield. Some biomedical researchers have now added their voices, raising concerns about obesity and chronic cold in research rats and mice respectively. Work by my PhD student Jessica Cait also recently ran meta-analyses showing that compared to well-resourced (or 'enriched') conditions, conventional cage conditions increase the severity of induced anxiety, cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression and stroke, and enhance all-cause mortality (Cait et al. 2022). Conventional cages are thus harmful. This work also echoed previous findings that research animals are male biased, leading us to label them 'CRAMPED' (cold, rotund, abnormal, male-biased, enclosed and distressed). But would improving housing conditions, and moving away from CRAMPED subjects, change research results? Some are scared by this possibility. However, it could represent an opportunity to improve the currently very poor rates at which data from animals successfully translate to humans. I will present results from our new meta-analyses showing the extent to which housing quality can affect the conclusions drawn from studies of 'disease modifiers' (e.g. therapeutic drugs).  Our new results show that reporting housing conditions in research papers is essential if research replicability is to be improved. They also show that animal welfare can affect the generalizability of research findings, and needs to be considered if we biomedical research is to model the full spectrum of human experience, not just the lives of confined, unhealthy, overweight men. 

Scholars Track: Nudges to Reduce Meat and Animal-Product Consumption: The State of the Scientific Evidence

Friday, September 29 from 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Speaker: Maya Mathur

Numerous types of interventions have been proposed to reduce consumption of meat and animal products, including education, legal action (e.g., challenging ag-gag laws), and behavior “nudges”. Nudges are simple changes to environments that are intended to shift behavior while preserving choice. Nudges to reduce consumption of meat and animal products include offering more plant-based menu options, using signage to evoke viewers’ ethical values, and making plant-based meals the default option. They have the potential to be effective, cheap, easy to implement, and applicable across many food-service settings. Maya will review the scientific evidence on nudges to reduce consumption of meat and animal products, and close with a serious caveat about the potential for well-intentioned nudges to severely backfire.

Scholars Track: When Animals Dream

September 29 from 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Speaker: David M. Peña-Guzmán

Recent developments in the fields of philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience suggest that many nonhuman animals run "reality simulations" (i.e., dreams) during sleep. What do these simulations tell us about the minds of other animals? What do they tell us about their cognitive, emotional, and social capabilities? And maybe are there ethical and legal implications of the dreams of other species? In this presentation, Dr. David M. Peña-Guzmán explores some of these developments, considering how dreaming may help us reconsider humanist assumptions we have inherited from the past about who animals are and how they experience the world.


The Student Conference programming is geared at helping Canadian law students connect and collaborate with each other, learn more about career opportunities in the field, and find ways to get involved with animal law while still in law school.

Student Conference: Careers in Animal Law Panel and Mentorship Workshop

Time: To be announced

Speakers: To be announced

Session Description: To be announced

Student Conference: How to Get Involved While in Law School

Time: To be announced

Speakers: To be announced

Session Description: To be announced

Oct 1 - Sessions
Sept 30 - Sessions

Saturday, Sept 30 -
Sunday, Oct 1

Beyond Binaries: Challenging Legal Categorizations of Animals

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Michaël Lessard, Sam Skinner, Tyler Totten

The law loves to create categories. But classifications like persons vs property can lead to myopic thinking, and miss important nuances. This panel will explore the limitations of current legal frameworks that categorize animals, and propose alternative approaches that highlight other animal characteristics, such as sociability and agency, and draw on queer theory to transcend binary thinking in animal law. Speakers will examine how these alternative approaches might better serve animals' interests and challenge speciesism in the legal system.

Building a More Compassionate and Sustainable Food System

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Angela Fernandez, Krystal-Anne Roussel, Madeline Youngman, Nital Jethalal

This panel will explore government subsidies for animal agriculture, and the challenges of transitioning to a plant-based food system. Panelists will discuss policy solutions to encourage the growth of the plant-based food industry, and reduce the environmental and social costs of animal agriculture. Drawing on their expertise in law, public policy, and sustainable food systems, speakers will provide insights on the opportunities and barriers for transitioning to a more plant-based food system, including alternative protein sources, government support for plant-based foods, and consumer behaviour change.

Canadian Perspectives on Animal Experimentation

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Andrew Fenton, Charu Chandrasekera, Kaitlyn Mitchell

This panel will focus on the Canadian landscape regarding animal experimentation laws and practices. Panelists will discuss recent developments, such as the establishment of the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods at the University of Windsor, new Canadian legislation aimed at banning cosmetic testing on animals and phasing out toxicity testing on animals, and ongoing efforts to improve animal welfare standards for research. The discussion will also address challenges and opportunities for advancing alternatives to animal experimentation, and promoting more ethical and effective scientific research practices in Canada.

Companion Animals, Family Law, & Tax Policy

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Daniel Dylan, Jennifer Friedman, Rebeka Breder

This panel will explore legal issues related to companion animals, including pet custody disputes and the unequal tax status of companions compared farmed animals. Speakers will discuss the challenges facing animal advocates and will also address recent developments in animal law, including court decisions and legislative reforms aimed at better protecting companion animals.

Direct Action for Animals: Perspectives from Activists and Lawyers

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Amy Soranno, Bibhas Vaze, Chloe Surprenant, Jenny McQueen, Justin Marceau

This panel will explore recent prosecution and trials in Canada and the US of animal advocates who engage in direct action to rescue animals from or expose conditions inside factory farms. Featuring speakers who have recently been prosecuted, as well as several of the lawyers representing them, the panel will discuss the risks of activism in an increasingly hostile legal environment, the legal defences that have been used in recent trials, and the role of lawyers in representing animal advocates.

European Animal Law: An Inclusive Account

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Tero Kivinen, Veera Koponen, Veerle Platvoet

Much of animal law scholarship originates from North America, or the Anglosphere more generally. Recently, however, there is an increasing body of scholarship of animal law from continental Europe. In Finland, the first animal law centre from continental Europe has recently been launched as a result of a research project to uncover the foundations of European animal law. By participating in a panel on European animal law, the members of the animal law centre represent this scholarship and spark debate on the similarities and differences within Western animal law scholarship.


Speakers will cover topics including the European Union’s animal welfare law regime, which can offer lessons to other jurisdictions; European wild animal law, including biodiversity and conservation; and defining animal law—the distinction between a restrictive and inclusive account of the field.

Exploring the Latest Trends in Animal Law and Policy Through New Books

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Clair Linzey, Kendra Coulter

Two scholars at the forefront of the animal advocacy movement will discuss the latest developments in animal law and policy through the lens of their newly-published books. The speakers will discuss how scholarship can be used to highlight critical issues and spark social change.

Gen Z as a Spark for Animal Rights: Lessons from Youth-Led Movements

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Genesis Butler, Nika Moeini, Ryann Fineberg

Roughly one in every eight people in Canada is considered to be ‘youth’ under the United Nations’ guidelines. It has been seen within a variety of social justice movements that young people, when given the chance, tools and resources, are more than capable of stepping up and taking impactful action. Within animal rights spaces, however, youth may feel more alienated than inspired, and even when they desire to take action they may feel a lack of opportunities to engage. This begs the question: why isn’t this movement engaging the unique lenses of young people to their fullest potential?


This panel, spearheaded by three young female activists, will explore how Gen Z can be a spark of inspiration and growth for the animal rights movement. It will analyze lessons learned from the successes of other youth-led causes in bringing solutions to a global audience, such as the climate movement, and provide practical takeaways for how and why to engage young people by way of social media. It will also investigate spaces beyond traditional activism, and provide suggestions to professionals regarding how they, too, can involve Gen Z in their work. Those in attendance will learn how to use collaboration with other movements as a tool to bridge more young people into the animal rights movement, and expand their reach in their line of work and/or advocacy.

Global Perspectives on Animal Experimentation

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Carlos Andrés Contreras Lopez, Lori Cohen, Vanessa Gerritsen

This panel will examine the state of animal experimentation laws from an international perspective. Panelists will discuss current legislation in different regions of the world, analyze notable cases, and explore possible avenues for reform. Topics will include the use of animals in scientific research, the ethical considerations surrounding experimentation, and the legal protections for animals in different jurisdictions. The panel will provide valuable insights into the complexities of animal experimentation laws and highlight the need for continued engagement on this important issue.

Out of the Shadows: Making Animals Visible in the Legal Academy

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Iselin Gambert, Joan Schaffner, Kathy Hessler, Randall Abate

Let’s face it: at most North American law schools, animals are an afterthought. Many schools lack dedicated animal law courses entirely, and those that do offer them often relegate them to adjunct professors who—regardless of their strength as teachers and relevant practice experience—are not fully integrated members of a school’s full-time faculty. Meanwhile, in other courses where animals should ostensibly play starring roles—think Food Law or Climate Change and the Law—animals are instead often completely invisible, the quintessential “absent referent” in Carol Adams’ parlance. 


It doesn’t have to be this way. In this presentation, four educators from The George Washington University Law School (GW Law) in Washington, DC will reflect on the ways in which they are working—collaboratively through the newly launched Animal Legal Education Initiative as well as independently through their own teaching, scholarship, and advocacy—to make animals visible in the legal academy. 

Protecting Animals Using International Law

Time: To be announced

Speakers: David Favre, Hira Jaleel, Polina Bochenkov

This panel will explore the significance of international law in protecting animals from a range of threats. Participants will gain knowledge on the necessity of a new global protocol for humane handling and treatment of live animals caught in illegal wildlife trade, as well as the impact of armed conflict on animals. Additionally, the panel will discuss the efforts of the International Coalition for Animal Protection in developing the Convention on Animal Protection for Public Health, Animal Well-Being, and the Environment. This session is a valuable opportunity to gain insights into the legal challenges and prospects in safeguarding animals at the international level, and the potential for international collaboration to address these issues.

Reproductive Rights for All

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Nandita Bajaj, Paulina Siemieniec, Therese Shechter

This panel will examine the importance of sexual and reproductive rights for animals and humans alike, drawing on insights from human rights law. Using an anti-oppression lens, the speakers will discuss how human supremacy contributes to injustices in animal reproduction, and how these issues intersect with larger systems of oppression. Through a nuanced conversation, the panelists will offer strategies for advocating for animal reproductive justice, and shifting policies to ensure greater protections for animals.

The Enforcement Problem

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Scott Tinney, Sophie Peutrill

This panel will explore the problem of enforcement in animal law, with an emphasis on farming. Starting with a groundbreaking analysis of poor enforcement of UK laws protecting farmed animals, speakers will then explore innovative approaches including the adoption of camera-based monitoring regimes for welfare concerns, and private prosecutions. The panel will also examine the legal and practical challenges associated with implementing these strategies, including the costs, privacy concerns, and potential legal barriers. The discussion will focus on how these approaches can complement traditional enforcement mechanisms, and contribute to more robust and effective enforcement.

The Future of Animal Rights Litigation

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Jeff Kerr, Matthew Liebman, Monica Miller, Rajesh Reddy

This panel will explore the future of animal rights litigation in North America in light of the recent decisions in the high-profile animal rights cases brought on behalf of Happy the Elephant, Justice the Horse, Naruto the Crested Macaque, and others. So far, courts in the United States have been unwilling to rule in favour of animal rights lawsuits – even in progressive, “animal friendly” states like New York and Oregon. Nevertheless, these lawsuits have garnered national and global media attention, and several judges, including on New York’s highest court, have written powerfully in support of animal rights. Given various perspectives within the movement on what approaches are likely to advance animal rights, where should we focus our strategies in the coming years? What will and should the future of US and Canadian animal rights litigation look like? To what extent should we direct our energy to other approaches, such as legislative projects, welfare-based litigation, rights-based litigation in foreign jurisdictions, extra-legal consciousness raising campaigns, or direct action? Bringing together our various and in some ways conflicting perspectives, how might we think differently about what constitutes progress and loss, adjust our strategies and redefine our objectives, and collectively create a climate where animal rights litigation can succeed?'

The Impact of Canadian Ag Gag Laws on Activism and Free Speech

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Camille Labchuk, Dan Stein, Louise Jorgensen

Four Canadian provinces have passed ag gag laws, and a troubling bill is being considered at the federal level. This panel will explore the legal and ethical implications of ag gag laws, which criminalize undercover investigations of animal agriculture facilities and restrict the freedom of speech of activists and whistleblowers. Panelists will provide an update to ongoing legal challenge to Ontario's ag gag law, and recent prosecutions of animal advocates in Ontario under ag gag laws.

The Legal Status of Animals: Recent Developments and Future Prospects

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Kristen Stilt, Macarena Montes-Franceschini

Speakers on this panel will discuss current issues regarding animal rights recognition and protection. The first presentation will examine the significant developments in Ecuador and beyond since a ground-breaking ruling in 2022 recognizing individual animals as subjects of rights protected by the constitutional rights of nature. The presentation will cover the legislative process in Ecuador regarding the law on animal rights, legislative and judicial efforts in other countries using the case as precedent, and the UN's recognition of the rights of nature. The second presentation will discuss the implications of the current perception of animals and their rights on the legal protections afforded to them and on the minds of individuals and civil society. Panelists will argue that a change in the legal and societal status of animals can only be achieved by acknowledging their inherent value, regardless of their usefulness to other objectives.

The State of Farmed Animal Welfare in Canada

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Duda Nedeff, Lynn Kavanaugh, PJ Nyman

This panel will examine the current state of farmed animal protection in Canada, including the lack of any serious legal framework to provide regulation and oversight. Speakers will discuss the concrete ways in which Canada's legal system fails farmed animals, and explore other approaches, including pressuring companies to improve animal welfare standards in their supply chains.

Unconventional Approaches to Challenging Factory Farming

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Kira Berkeley, Vanessa Shakib, Will Lowrey

This panel will explore the role of creative lawyering in enhancing farmed animal protection and challenging industrial animal agriculture. Panelists will explore several different strategies, including laws, policies, media, undercover investigations, education, litigation, lobbying, and new technology to target the consequences of factory farming, such as animal suffering, environmental degradation, and public health and safety concerns.

Wild Animal Population Control: Sentience Recognition, and “Non-Native” Wildlife

Time: To be announced

Speakers: Barry Kent MacKay, Kelly Duffin, Sophie Gaillard

In this panel, experts will discuss the legal and policy implications of wild animal culls, using two recent examples. Two speakers will discuss the measures aimed at controlling species considered “non-native” versus “native”, challenging the assumption that non-native animals like mute swans should be reduced in number, or eradicated altogether. Using the proposed deer cull in Longeuil, Quebec as a case study, one speaker will also explore how far the legal recognition of animal sentience can go to protect wild animals from lethal and painful population control strategies.

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