Score One For the Good Guys!

Posted by Scott Heiser, Director of ALDF's Criminal Justice Program on August 10, 2009

The "Brown Bomber"It’s
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:

  1. It
    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.
  2. 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).
  3. It
    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.

Crime Scene photo from a Louisiana dogfighting caseIn
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.

None
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).


One thought on “Score One For the Good Guys!

  1. Santina Zaza says:

    Good afternoon,

    Fabulous Job Bravo, It’s an uphill battle I just recently joined. I live in Canada and United States. I see many changes in the future, hopefully sooner then later, my main focus and fight is for farm animals, farm factories and it’s cruelty for unnatural lives, return to free range farming, use of veterinarian and proper surgical procedures, slaughter with dignity, as per scientific methods that could be used to remove blood from animals instead of the AD methods still being used for slaughter. Huge Huge problems, I have only touched on the surface. I like to go back to get my masters or own farms to show people and governments that there is a clean and acceptable way to comsume animals. What do think. I have no idea where to begin, But if you have any suggestions I love them. Great job, the dogs of Oregon were waiting for your help. LOVE IT I hope we win many more.
    I am on facebook and email with proposals.
    Thanks for sharing your story
    Sincerely Santina Zaza

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