Oregon Animal Protection Laws Remain Unhampered by State Supreme Court RulingOctober 24th, 2006
ALDF Disappointed by High Court’s Decision on Measure 3; Remains Confident in the Integrity of Abused Animal Forfeiture Laws
Salem, Ore. -- Late last week, the Oregon Supreme Court, in a fractured 4-3 decision, upheld controversial State Ballot Measure 3 (2000), which restricted the forfeiture of property seized by law enforcement agencies. The measure also inadvertently created some legal confusion as to the ability of animal shelters to continue, under existing animal protection laws, to find new homes for abused animals that had been rescued, and to be able to recoup, from the defendant, the high costs of caring for these animals. The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) determined that these animal protection laws were not impacted by Measure 3, as the measure strictly applied to civil forfeiture proceedings, not to the criminal forfeiture of abused animals. Nonetheless, due to the unique circumstances created by the loosely drafted measure, ALDF, along with the Oregon Humane Society and the Humane Society of the Willamette Valley, had joined in the challenge of Measure 3, in order to remove any lingering doubt as to the veracity of these laws.
For more than a decade, Oregon’s animal protection laws have given courts the opportunity to order defendants charged with animal neglect or cruelty to pay the costs for the care of their mistreated animals, or, alternatively, to allow shelters to find new homes for them, before the conclusion of the underlying criminal case—a process that can often drag on for months, or even years. "One of ALDF’s primary goals is to ensure that animal protection laws, such as Oregon’s abused animal forfeiture laws, are fully defended," says Stephan K. Otto, co-plaintiff and attorney at ALDF’s Portland office. "Measure 3 unnecessarily raised some uncertainties about these vital laws."
"Since the state Supreme Court has upheld Measure 3, we unfortunately do not gain the definitive resolution to the issue of abused animal forfeitures that would have occurred had it instead been overturned," adds Otto. "However, we remain fully confident in the validity and strength of these laws, and are gratified that this position has been adhered to by courts over the years since Measure 3 was enacted. We also believe that our involvement in this litigation, defending the rights of animals and shelters, has prompted proponents of other ballot measures across the country to carefully consider and mitigate any potentially negative impacts their measures may have on animals and those who care for them."