ancient Egyptians, who worshipped canines as
deities, wrote laws regulating the ownership and
treatment of dogs at the time of the early
Pharaohs, around 5,000 BC.
In ancient China, the lion dog (a
forerunner of the Pekingese) acquired permanent
legal status as the official dog of the Imperial
Palace. Although Chinese peasants sometimes ate other breeds, anyone
caught harming an Imperial dog could be punished
one probably took the protection of dogs as seriously as
the ancient Persians.
Anyone who killed a dog in Persia could expect to
receive 500 to 1,000 lashes.
Even giving a canine bad food was punishable by
50 to 200 lashes, depending on the breed and social
status of the dog.
dog's legal status began to slip substantially in the
Middle Ages, when most legal thinkers tended to agree
with English jurist Sir William Blackstone, who wrote
that dogs had "no intrinsic value" since they
were "creatures kept for whim and pleasure."
lawmakers of the early 19th century started taking a
more enlightened view of canine rights by passing
In 1856, the New York legislature enacted what is
widely regarded as the first meaningful anti-cruelty
law, which called for the arrest of anyone caught
promoting a dog fight.
A decade later, the law was expanded to outlaw
the malicious killing of a dog belonging to another
force of law has also been brought to bear against dogs
because of their owner's misdeeds.
In the Middle Ages, the dogs of criminals and
heretics were often tried and punished along with their
are records of dogs being put on trial in England,
France and Italy up until the middle of the last
recently as 1906, two men and a dog were put on trial
for murder in Switzerland.
All three were found guilty.