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The Law Is a White DogHow Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons$
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Colin Dayan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691070919

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691070919.001.0001

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Skin of the Dog

Skin of the Dog

Chapter:
(p.209) 7 Skin of the Dog
Source:
The Law Is a White Dog
Author(s):

Colin Dayan

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691070919.003.0007

This chapter argues that the nature and status of dogs as defined by law are crucial to understanding the limits of restitution and the uneven application of remedy to persons who must answer to or reckon with the law. One of the more vexing issues in prosecutions for larceny is whether dogs are subjects of property. If they are not, then their loss through thievery cannot be a cause for restitution in law. Implied here is an obligation to assess a dog's value and usefulness. In this intermediate, imperfect state, they were simply not property as were other chattels, including slaves. It was legally impossible that human chattels occupy a state in between freedom and servitude or between worth and uselessness. If they had no value as instruments of labor or procreation, then they literally had no reason for being and no legal protections against neglect or mutilation, maiming or death.

Keywords:   dogs, restitution, larceny, property, slaves, human chattels, legal protections, servitude

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