California Animal Law Case— “NO Warrant Required” Entry

California Penal Code Section 597……..Isn’t this the “abuse” section that HSUS loves to keep adding to, every year?

Let’s pretend a “neighbor” that doesn’t like YOUR dogs, calls the police and claims that you had dog shrieks coming from YOUR home, even if there were none.  That then gives the police probable cause to search your house?

Usually there must be a potential felony for the case to support exigency of the circumstances, which may give rise to no warrant needed. There are other general rules as well, but then defense counsel will usually examine all the facts and file a suppression motion to try and get rid of the warrantless search.

In certain cases  overzealous animal rights people and possibly even the police, may create a distorted view of the actual facts, and this may cause long term ramifications for animal owners.  IF an owner actually did violate the “abuse” code by actually harming the animal, that’s one thing.  However if that is not the case, then it’s another story.

Not surprisingly, in California’s Second Appellate District, Division Three, a case appealed out of Los Angeles County Superior Ct. No. SA 064964, The People v Keith Chung,  found that exigent circumstances existed and that no warrant was needed for entry.  Many cases do not result in similar findings, but in Chung, the totality of circumstances indicated to the Court that the warrant was not required.  And of course, animal rights groups went insane with joy.

While we are not in disagreement with the appeal and the result, it indicates to us that in California, there have been  very few cases where exigent circumstances are warranted involving animal abuse, which eliminate the need for a warrant.

You may recall that a forced entry warrant was obtained in a “pitbull” case we talked about last year, and that was just for being over the limit with no kennel license, but animal control had claimed the dogs were suspected of dog fighting, even though there was no evidence of that [and they were not being used for fighting.]  In that case the animal control officers amped up the case and got magistrate to sign off for a forced entry.          


In the Chung case, the Appeals Court (2010)  considered the testimony of the citizen informant, the testimony of a police officer, the trial court’s findings of facts/ruling.  Chung argued that the exigent circumstances does not extend to protection of an animal, although the exception to the Fourth Amendment has been defined to include an emergency situation requiring swift action to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, and generally action must be prompted by the motive of preserving life or property and must reasonably appear to the actor to be necessary for that purpose.  The defendant argued that the “no warrant” should only apply only to imminent danger to human life. [In another state that argument might work but not in Southern California where there is other evidence supporting the State’s case. Also remember, animals are considered property under the law.]

The problem that we potentially see is that while we assume that there could be cases where a neighbor may  actually be telling the truth== we have seen cases where the neighbors are simply making up non-facts, and once the animals are seized and the defendant owner is charged with abuse, it is basically sort of too bad, so sad for the owner. HSUS drafted law has the owner paying for storage of the animals as a lien attaches. 

When animal rights people in their overzealous methods to find for animals and against people in general, knowing that under the law, animals are regarded as our property—- animal rights will try and draft “abuse” laws to suit their purposes so that they can carve out exceptions for tons of situations and then swoop down and use those exceptions. Or, they will even manufacture evidence and THEN swoop down the same way.

So while we don’t want to see actual animal abuse, we also don’t want to see owners being accused of abuse, when in reality there is no abuse. Chung was apparently guilty of abuse, and that is why the Court delivered its verdict.

However, for example, if the proposed California law by HSUS,  SB917— states that displaying/selling an animal IS ABUSE under the very same “abuse” section in the California Penal Code, exactly how are we to believe that one can be guilty of abuse when there has been no actual abuse? That is a huge issue and a monumental problem.

Abuse laws should actually relate to concrete abuse, not manufactured, alleged “potential for abuse” in the law in order to find people guilty of abuse when there is none. Potentially the animal rights faction believes that everything is abuse, including buying and selling animals. This is a known, concrete fact.

We encourage everyone to go online and review the actual language of the  proposed  PASSED law,  SB917, which makes display/selling on public areas into animal abuse.  As we well know, selling or talking about selling or displaying and talking about selling is not animal abuse.  

And– any transfers of animals (buying, selling, displaying) usually involve transporting the animal. That’s where the ARs are headed, in stopping the transport and transfer— as evidenced by the Glendale city council’s request to ban all sales of dogs/cats in any store.

The law of SB917 as written makes situations which are NOT abuse into animal abuse as a way to carve out “selling” in certain instances into “abuse.”   This slippery slope is an extremely dangerous one, and anyone owing or showing, exhibiting, buying or selling is at risk of being labeled an animal abuser under this law.

….  You could be convicted of animal abuse for a legal act under this proposed law.




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