Update: Each Animal Counts!

Posted by Lora Dunn, ALDF Staff Attorney on August 19, 2015


Three years ago, in State v. Nix, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that each animal subjected to abuse counts as a separate “victim” of that crime, rejecting a defendant’s attempt to merge all 20 of his animal neglect convictions into just one count. While the Oregon Supreme Court initially agreed with this ruling, it ultimately vacated the Nix case on procedural grounds. To many who follow these issues, vacating the “Nix rule” was a tough blow to absorb.

But today, we have great news: The Nix rule is once again good law. In affirming multiple convictions in a cat hoarding case (State v. Hess), the Court of Appeals adopted the Oregon Supreme Court’s rationale as published in the original Nix opinion and ruled that each animal qualifies as a victim of cruelty. In short, the rule in Oregon for crimes involving multiple animal victims is now crystal clear: Defendants may not avoid accountability for inflicting mass suffering via merger of convictions.

While ALDF had a hand in helping with both the appeal in Nix and the prosecution of Hess, there are many people whose exceptional work resulted in this great outcome, specifically: Oregon Humane Society for its outstanding work investigating the Hess case; Jacob Kamins (then a Multnomah County DDA and now serving as Oregon’s dedicated animal cruelty prosecutor) for his tenacious trial court work in prosecuting Hess; and Assistant Attorney General Jamie Contreras for her stellar written and oral advocacy in both Nix and Hess appeals.

One thought on “Update: Each Animal Counts!

  1. Marta Maxwell says:

    Could you please investigate “Walk On The Wild Side in Canby Oregon. They claim to be a exotic animal rescue place but were shut down due to violations but continue to show these poor animals at fairs and private partys plus they are breeding them! I saw them at the benton county fair here in Corvallis Ore and the animals were extremely stressed. I took photo’s of them pacing, digging, and stand in poop and urin and the wallabe was throwing it’s self on the cage walls. Koin news has a video news cast where you can see the property and the small cages for a bear and tigers plus they have a shed filled with cages! Please investigate them and shut them down! Thank You I have a lot more to say about them so if you would like to see my photos or more info please contact me. PLEASE HELP Set these animals FREE!

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