Exigency or No Exigency? Animal “Abuse”

Re-posted from 2013—

Why is it a big deal? Because pretty much California says that if there are exigent circumstances, the police can go in without a warrant. Without exigency, usually one needs a warrant.

What gets caught up in the cases are when the FACTS do not show exigency necessarily, such as someone says those animals are starving and charge defendant with 60 felonies but leave the animals there for a month. Then take them without a warrant. By giving them to a rescue or to animal control. The facts of this case (leaving animals there for a month) has resulted in all felony charges being dropped, 3 years later, (since essentially an invalid seizure was done no matter how they tried to play it differently.)

PEOPLE V TROYER PDF  (This case is NOT published according to the version we saw, however, the Court’s verdict was that the warantless entry into a locked bedroom was basically an illegal search and should have been supressed;whereas, the initial entry without warrant into the home initially,was exigent and thus allowable w/o warrant)

THUS–  Look at the 2 CA cases we posted down below— which are all on the AR animal law sites. Whether an animal is property or not (it is) CA law plainly states that under PC597.1 “”When an animal control officer has reasonable grounds to believe that very prompt action is required to protect the health or safety of the animal or the health or safety of others, the officer shall immediately seize the animal and comply with subdivision (f)[providing for a post seizure hearing]. In all other cases, the officer shall comply with the provisions of subdivision(g)[providing for notice in lieu of seizure, and pre seizure hearing] Section 597.1,subd.(a))

The case below is not in California.

The Massachusetts state’s highest court is slated to hear arguments Tuesday on whether police can search property without a warrant if they believe animals are in danger, expanding an exception that already applies when people are in danger.   http://www.ma-appellatecourts.org/search_number.php?dno=SJC-11373  All of the briefs by the ARs and the Defendant, etc. are here. The ARs argue AR stuff. The  Appellee at least tries to argue the law. Politically speaking, the Appellant may  win because IF police are searching for a dying dog, it would seem exigent according to CA law. But see pg. 19 on the brief for the  Appellee………… The bottom line is the police that went to the house were not really concerned about any dying dog and even if they were, they didn’t act as if they did. Best friends and HSUS argued 3 cases where judges claimed animals were not property (but supposedly more than property.) We can tell you right now, the overwhelming majority of legal minds believes that animals are property.

Appellee Duncan Brief Appellee Duncan Brief

The Supreme Judicial Court is pondering a case, Commonwealth v. Duncan, in which a Lynn woman was charged in April 2011 in Lynn District Court with three counts of animal cruelty. Police responding to her home in January of that year said they could see two dead dogs and a live dog in her yard, so they entered to help the live dog.

The defense challenged the police entry onto the property — and the evidence it produced, saying police were required to get a warrant first under the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office wrote in a brief filed in the case, “The moral standard of this community recognizes animal lives as worthy of reasonable protection in an emergency, justifying the officers’ warrantless entry in this case.”

The defense, in a brief written by attorney Travis J. Jacobs, said such warrantless searches were disallowed by people’s constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Jacobs argued that “Massachusetts courts have consistently viewed animals as property and have long recognized that animals are not protected by the Constitution as are people.” While this is true, in CA you better watch out.

Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 3, California  People v. Chung
California  PEOPLE V CHUNG 2ND DCA (1)
— Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 185 Cal.App.4th 247 (Cal.App. 2 Dist.),Case Details
Printable Version
Summary:   Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress evidence in an animal cruelty case in which he had pled no contest. Defendant claimed officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights when they entered his residence without a warrant or consent to aid a dog in distress within. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement applied because immediate action was necessary to prevent imminent serious damage to property.In this case, the officers acted properly because they reasonably believed immediate warrantless entry was necessary to aid a dog that was injured or was being mistreated.  Specifically see pg. 9-10………….


The California Court of Appeal (2 Dist.)Conway v. Pasadena Humane Society
52 Cal.Rptr.2d 777 (1996)Case Details
Printable Version
Summary:   This appeal presents the question of whether animal control officers can lawfully enter a home, absent a warrant or consent, to seize and impound the homeowner’s dog for violation of a leash law. The court held that that the Fourth Amendment precludes such conduct, where entry of home to seize dog was not justified by exigent circumstances.  Further, the statute and municipal ordinance permitting animal control officers to impound dog found on private property did not authorize seizure in violation of Fourth Amendment.

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