Oregon Animal Protection Laws Remain Unhampered by State Supreme Court Ruling

Posted on October 24, 2006

ALDF Disappointed by High Court’s Decision on Measure 3; Remains Confident in the Integrity of Abused Animal Forfeiture Laws

DogSalem, 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."

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