Score One For the Good Guys!Posted by Scott Heiser, Director of ALDF's Criminal Justice Program on August 10, 2009
summer and that can only mean one thing: the Oregon Legislature is in
recess. I know, we lawyers have such warped minds–it wasn’t that long
ago when Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out for Summer” would have been
blaring from that boss “new” Sony console cassette deck while I
polished the chrome wheels on my car…
And now I get excited by
sitting down to review what the Legislature enacted at the end of each
session while MP3s emerge from a computer. Wow, do things ever change,
but I digress…
I write today to express my deep gratitude to Representatives Sara Gelser and Brad Witt for sponsoring a very important bill on behalf of yours truly and ALDF, namely House Bill 2529. HB 2529 does a number of good things:
makes the pre-conviction forfeiture process in dogfighting cases the
same as any other animal cruelty case. Under the old law, in
dogfighting cases the court could order that the abused dogs remain in
the hands of the offenders while their criminal cases were
pending–that’s just nuts! If you want proof, just have a look at the
Bemis/Tarpani cases in Kern County, California or the Pet Rescue case in Du Page County, Illinois
as examples of how not to deal with an offender’s desire to continue to
possess animals while their case is pending. That little problem is
fixed now, at least in Oregon.
- It includes animal
fighting within the scope of Oregon’s possessory chattel lien laws by
amending ORS 167.345 (relevant in the application of ORS 87.159, the
statute creating the lien for the costs of caring for abused animals)
and ORS 133.377, making it easier for law enforcement and humane
societies to recover their costs for caring for fighting dogs (not
every dogfighter has six-figures to post up-front, like Michael Vick, to cover the cost of caring for these dogs).
expressly includes animal fighting within the scope of Oregon’s
mandatory arrest statute, found in ORS 133.379(1). This one is huge.
Couple this amendment with the fact the Oregon already includes animal
fighting as a R.I.C.O. predicate, and animal advocates now have some
very strong and persuasive authority to support the view that Oregon’s
newly elected Attorney General,
acting in concert with the Oregon District Attorneys Association,
should organize and implement a targeted animal fighting task force to
aggressively target this barbaric set of criminals. The existing
reward-based “tip line” was good PR, but there’s much more that can be
done here–simply waiting for the phone to ring isn’t sufficient.
short, HB 2529 is a huge step forward in dealing with the seedy
underworld of organized animal fighting rings by giving investigators
and prosecutors sharper tools to use in bringing to justice those
affiliated with these vast and elaborate conspiracies, while at the
same time ensuring that the exploited animals aren’t left “in the care”
of the offenders while the criminal cases drag on and on.
of these improvements would have been possible without the willingness
of two exemplary state legislators to listen, learn and act. My
deepest thanks to both Representatives Gelser and Witt, for sponsoring
HB 2529 and for their leadership on this issue.
P.S., just for
sport, should you have the inclination to blare some Alice Cooper and
read some new laws, here are a few other Oregon “animal” bills worthy
of note: HB 2470
(a puppy mill bill that is so watered down–because it exempts the first
50 dogs–that it’s of limited practical value, but it is a step in the
right direction nonetheless); HB 3348
(making it clear that humane investigators acting under authority of
Oregon’s special agent law have the authority to apply for search
warrants); SB 398 (corrects a loophole by including horses in the list of animals that are subject to abandonment).