Forgotten Casualties or Companions: Animals and War

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Please join us for the Fall 2022 Joint University of Waterloo–St. Jerome’s University Legal Studies Seminar.

On Tuesday the 13th of December, 2022 at 10 a.m. EST, DR. KATY SOWERY will be speaking on the topic of Forgotten Casualties or Companions: Animals and War.

Dr. Katy Sowery is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Liverpool. Her work looks at the status of animals in legal systems – on a national and transnational level. Her work focuses on the ‘duality’ prevalent in the legal regulation and legal status of animals; as ‘sentient’ beings and as ‘products.’


What happens to animals that are affected by armed conflict? When we think of displacement caused by conflict, we often think of persons moving to seek the legal protection of another state. More recently, we have seen efforts across the world to ensure the ‘companions’ of displaced persons can accompany them where possible (i.e. from Ukraine, Afghanistan). This is in keeping with the societal and cultural value that we place on our ‘companion’ animals – the animals that have been domesticated. Yet there is a sliding scale of importance and/or attention attributed to other animals. In particular, it is interesting to look at two categories of animal that are adversely affected by conflict, but have yet to receive the same attention and protection as our companion animals: zoo animals and farmed animals. Both of these categories are peculiarly affected by conflict, since they can be understood as ‘captive casualties’ in that they exist and live in human-made environments with limited space. Zoo animals are ‘spectacles’ for the public, but there is generally less concern for their well-being than there is for companion animals. Even less concern is held for farmed animals, especially in industrial farming systems, where the concerns are usually expressed as economic losses for the farmers/industry generally. This paper looks at this hierarchical understanding of different types and categories of animals in the particular context of war. Yet it is an understanding that has broader application and is deeply informed by social and cultural assumptions about the role and status of animals across the world.   

About the seminar series:

The Joint Legal Studies Seminar Series features biannual seminars showcasing a range of legal studies scholarship.  The series is hosted by the Departments of Sociology and Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo and St. Jerome’s University.  

For more information:

Please contact Honor BrabazonAllison Chenier, or Andrea Quinlan with any questions.