A Call for Help...and an AnswerMay 27th, 2004
(Portland, Oregon) ALDF receives hundreds of phone calls a year from people across the country seeking help with animal issues. Prosecutors, investigators, attorneys, human guardians — they call every day looking for ALDF’s unique brand of legal expertise.
That’s exactly what Lt. Randy Covey, animal abuse investigator for the Oregon Humane Society (OHS), was looking for when he called our Anti-Cruelty Division in Portland recently. The Humane Society had found itself — and more than 120 neglected birds — in a tight spot.
The birds (most of them exotic macaws, parrots and lovebirds) had been languishing in the home of a woman who’d been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for an indefinite period of time. OHS seized them, but quickly found itself overwhelmed by the expense, space and time needed to care for so many sensitive animals with special needs. Yet it couldn’t place the birds in new, loving homes because of a tricky legal Catch-22.
Under Oregon state law, the birds couldn't be forfeited to OHS unless the owner was charged or convicted of criminally neglecting them. Because the woman was deemed mentally unstable and institutionalized by the courts, she wasn't legally capable of committing such a crime. So how to help these animals find new homes?
After ALDF attorney Dana Campbell heard the story, she whipped into action, researching legal strategies. She quickly hit upon a unique solution: Ask the judge to give legal custody of the birds to OHS with the power to do what was in their best interest. And the judge did just that, issuing a protective order on behalf of the animals. OHS was granted full legal responsibility for the birds, and most of them have since been handed over to new, caring, capable companions.
If the birds in this case had been children, this is exactly how the law would’ve worked in the first place. But because they were animals, they were left in limbo — until we could think up a way to get them out. Fortunately, the judge was willing to take the birds’ best interests into consideration. That sets a precedent attorneys can use to help animals in the future...and that’s what ALDF is all about.
"We really appreciate Dana's open-mindedness, expertise and willingness to pursue something that had never, to our knowledge, been done before. She was able to draw in new resources to assist us and make this a good resolution," says Lt. Covey. "It would've been a much more difficult situation without her."