AC Targets Feral Cat Foster Attorney; Equine Case Update

California attorney and volunteer-foster for ‘Fix Our Ferals’ , Jan Van Dusen was thrust into the limelight when she emerged victorious after challenging the deductibility of her $12,068 writeoff for unreimbursed expenses incurred as a volunteer in the rescue.

The Court held that four factors will be considered in determining whether services are “to or on behalf of” a charitable organization for purposes of determining whether incidental expenses incurred while volunteering are deductible ( services for the benefit of an organization such as time or professional expertise are not deductible), the Court considered the following factors:

  • Strength Of Taxpayer’s Affiliation With Organization.  If a taxpayer can demonstrate a strong affiliation with the organization, it is more likely that the unreimbursed expenses were incurred on behalf of the organization.
  • Organization’s Ability to Request Volunteer Services From Taxpayer. If an organization is sufficiently able to request services from the taxpayer, the services will be considered to be provided  to the organization.
  • The Organization’s Supervision Of The Taxpayer’s Work. If the organization has ample ability to supervise and direct the taxpayer’s volunteer services,  then it is evidence that the services are performed for the benefit of the organization.
  • Taxpayer Accountability To The Organization. If it can be shown that the taxpayer is accountable to the organization, it is further evidence that the services are being provided for the benefit of the organization.
Unfortunately, likely due to the publicity of the case, Van Dusen has been cited by animal control and some (if not most) of her cats have been seized. Just updated, Ms. Van Dusen is fighting the felony charge (one charge) and is going to court next week. Supposedly up to $20,000 fine (thank you H$U$ for increasing that “abuse” law –yeah right) and  up to 1yr in jail.

One of the attorneys that we know and work with, Alec Henderson, is now representing her in the Bay Area. If funding is available, we could assist Henderson.  Alec formerly worked as a public defender in So Cal and has about 23 years in since graduating from UCLA. A staunch criminal defense attorney, Henderson is finding that the Penal Code involving “abuse”  is far different than what one would expect.  We were also contacted by the Washington attorney on the small farm case involving alleged “abuse” when NO due process was ever afforded, and the animals were seized.

Another high profile California case,  claimed by activists to include alleged killing of horses [when in fact owner is not charged with killing horses] has been reported widely as “abuse” by activists.  Unfortunately, the story is extremely complex and owner had long stated that perpetrator(s) were killing and poisoning the horses. [Suspected perp being the ex live in girlfriend or someone known to her]

 Animal control seemed to believe that they (animal control) were not responsible for  arranging to get animals tested and owner did not have $6,000 which was the purported cost.  The bottom line is that if someone is poisoning your animals, and you call animal control, and they end up citing you for your animals becoming sick, there is a problem that won’t likely be resolved quickly. There is also a huge leap from asserting that person X did the alleged acts, to a finding that the person is guilty of criminal negligence. 

We have found in most of the animal seizure cases, that what you read in the newspaper and see on TV does not come close to the actual details of what transpired.  For example in this complex horse case, the civil pleadings show a pattern of abuse of discretion by the State Court, and  outrageous conduct by one attorney which has continued without stopping. That particular attorney is going to be sued.

As mentioned, owner had stated even in 2009, in legal proceedings, that someone was poisoning the horses;   horses which were NOT needing exigent medical care were illegally seized  in July-August 2011 without proper due process, by attorney claiming exigent circumstances. However the rescue did not even bother to pick up the horses for about another 30 days, as there was actually no medical exigency, and they all knew it.

While under the “rescue” group’s care for about five months, Rescue group keeps saying owner starved horses, but the reality is that the horse pathology testing allegedly [reported by rescue and their vet in court] showed ‘sand’ and ‘liver’ issues. Yep, several horses were put down by Rescue.  Where owner lived, there is no sand, but rescue has horses on pasture, which can easily lead to sand ingestion [from improper pasture management.]  Because the rescue was involved with the improper seizure and has widely disseminated allegations which are damaging, the rescue will also be sued. The rescue was also paid allegedly between $40,000 to $80,000 by mortgage banks, and the rescue’s last filing in 2010 IRS 990 shows a gross of $700,000+. Not exactly chump change.


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