Warning: Due process is supposed to cover animal seizures. A hearing should be held as per law, if it is requested. In most instances, the owner is required to request the hearing. An owner’s best chance at saving animals is to get an attorney immediately for the hearing. IF actual abuse did happen, it is unlikely a hearing would be helpful. IF abuse did not occur, it is extremely paramount to get the hearing requested, as this may be a key fact in eventually winning the case. The warrant used will be extremely important (potential for errors, misrepresentation, procedural defects,etc. used in affidavits.)
http://fox5sandiego.com/2014/10/08/31-neglected-horses-go-up-for-adoption/ (one of our contributor’s cases)
YOUR DOG’S BEST FRIEND MAY BE HIS ATTORNEY
by D. Amble, We The People USA
Warrantless seizures plague animal owners! If contacted by animal control authorities SEEK LEGAL COUNSEL IMMEDIATELY to prevent illegal confiscation and impoundment.
In fact, you may want to find a good attorney now. Why?” you ask. The answer is by the time the knock comes at your door, it may be too late to protect your animals and prevent them from being seized. Often times, seizure of animals results in the injury and death of the animals by the same authorities that claim to be “rescuing” said animals.
Once your animals are seized they will be subjected to stress and disease if not outright abuse and even death at the hands of callous animal control workers or overzealous animal “rescuers”. Do you have an elderly dog or a litter of tiny kittens? How do you think they will fare at the pound where disease is usually rampant and the stress of impoundment may very well make your dog more susceptible to disease. Will your dog be able to handle an attack by another dog as they are often thrown in together in a kennel regardless of age or size?
Too many believe that the law protects their rights and their property as we were taught in Civics and Government class in middle school.
Too many believe that because they provide optimal care for their animals and live in a nice neighborhood or a rural countryside that they will never be subjected to the onerous raids one hears about. “Those people” you assume did not properly care for their animals. We are told “those people” are hoarders.
The reality is that even people with four animals have been labeled “hoarders” by rogue raiders. Once they release often contrived raid details to the press, you will be presumed guilty by the media and the public.
Trying Your Animal Abuse, Limit Laws, or Hoarding Case:
You assume you will prevail in a court of law. That may be the case if you have deep pockets to appeal in a court of law. However, like child protective cases, most animal cases are heard by your accusers, in a private hearing within the animal control department without the legal protections provided in a courtroom setting. The reality is often that the animal control agency alone is the judge, jury and executioner – literally.
If you are lucky enough to have your case heard in front of a magistrate, chances are they will take the word of the officers over yours and they nearly always know nothing about animal care and its intricacies.
If you have children, child protective services will be contacted and without warning they will appear. You may have to fight two fronts: allegations by animal control and allegations from child protective services. And in both cases, your animals and your children may be seized immediately. You may be taken to jail and have to post bond in order to be released to begin your defense of what often amounts to “guilty until proven innocent.”
Often another agency is also used to levy fines and put obstacles in your case: code enforcement. In some locales these officers now even legally carry guns! They will often declare your property condemned simply due to “blight”, refuse or even “odor”. You may be forced to leave your own property under their authority.
If your home is a mess, or maybe you are “hoarding” too many recyclables, they may contact Mental Health Services and you may be placed under evaluation (hospitalized) due to their perception of your inability to care properly for yourself. This is not uncommon is cases where the person is elderly.
You will be billed for each of these services.
Fines, Fees, and Court Costs of Illegal Animal Seizures:
In fact, many people cannot retrieve their animals due to the high cost of per diem exacted by animal services along with exorbitant veterinary fees. Code enforcement may charge $200 per hour to evaluate and re-inspect you monthly on violations and repairs. They can place a lien on your home. In some areas, just breeding animals for consumption is deemed “illegal agricultural activities” and fines can be as high as $1000.00 per day.
Are you now asking yourself if all these seizures or fines are legal? Most are not but that does not stop them from happening. In fact, animal officer training includes instruction on ways “around the law” based on drug seizure precedent cases. Sure “those people” are the “bad guys dealing drugs to the neighborhood” but law enforcement is now teaching and applying the same interpretations to animal seizures.
Just as in cases where rogue narcotics officers place incriminating evidence in the alleged criminal’s car or home, so may an overzealous animal officer kick over a water bowl, tighten a chain, or even flood your barn to prove animal abuse or neglect. If a pet is placed in a carrier and set out in the heat of the day for hours, how will your precious pampered pet look once they finally arrive at the animal control facility for veterinary examination? Your pet may be near death at that point. How can you prove your pet’s condition was due to mistreatment following the seizure rather than your poor care?
At this point, most of us would be shouting out the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness or reciting the Constitution! Are you prepared to hire a Constitutional attorney to uphold your rights under the law?
U.S. CONSTITUTION – Amendment 5. Self-Incrimination; Double Jeopardy; Due process. “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
California Penal Code § 1548(d): “Laws of the United States” means (1) those laws of the United States passed by Congress pursuant to authority given to Congress by the Constitution of the United States where the laws of the United States are controlling, and (2) those laws of the United States not controlling the several states of the United States but which are not in conflict with the provisions of this chapter. CONGRESS makes laws, NOT counties, cities, code enforcement, or dog-catchers.
Yet, we are aware of countless ordinances that subject animal owners to excessive fees, which are really taxes, and unreasonable stipulations along with arbitrary and often ridiculous numbers; 4 dogs, 3 cats, 1 chicken, no roosters! Such ordinances are based on a whim or the agenda of animal rights fanatics with unrestrained, autocratic use of authority by elected or hired personnel or merely appointed commissions or agencies!
Where will it stop? Will such illegal agencies soon tell us how many acres we can own? How many cattle we can have? How many pairs of shoes? How about how many children you can have? Sound incredulous? Well, in China it is not only a reality but a living nightmare from which you cannot awaken.
In the state of California not one case has been won that resulted in all animals returned to the owner. This is also true across the United States. The only two cases that were successfully won with all animals returned were in South Dakota. Cases have been won, but too late. The animals were destroyed, sold for profit, disappeared, or the SPCA refused to return the animals.
[Note by PD: Pitbulls seized by So Cal AC with a night time warrant…these were show dogs, bullies, and some of them belonged to the brother of the owner. All dogs were returned to both owners but it cost them $15,000. In fact, a litter was born in the shelter but all were returned. [We saw the warrant/talked to owner] They moved to Riverside County after the seizure. We don’t think charges went forward. In Placer County, seized horses all went back to owner when the post seizure hearing was found to lack probable cause. The Grass Valley related Humane group swears they will “appeal” the order. Of course we don’t know all cases where animals could have been returned since they are not necessarily published. In Lassen County, all felonies were dropped as to the seized horses. But since owner does not have the financials to keep up a large herd, he did not ask for the return, however the District Attorney was not opposed to him owning animals supposedly. The seized horses are still supposedly held by The Grace Foundation of Northern California who is purportedly either being investigated by the AG of Charitable Trusts, or something else. If the AG sought to file against Grace to disgorge profits, there would be large fines involved.]
You see it on the news every day: “The poor animals were too ill and had to be destroyed”. The favorite of the six o’clock news is “The hoarder had very unsanitary conditions so the house had to be condemned and bulldozed’. “Restitution was ordered by the judge to be paid to the SPCA/Animal Control”. What they don’t tell you is, a six digit figure was awarded to the SPCA/Animal Control, who promptly placed a lien on the Home & Property. The owner was sent to jail so they couldn’t fight them.
Can’t believe it could happen to you? Stay tuned – we have hundreds of cases from California and across the nation. Not one state is immune. In Part II, we will discuss how you may be able to prevent any seizure and minimize fines by being pro-active.
2008 – 2009 Significant Animal Law Cases. Author Rebecca F. Wisch Animal Legal & Historical Michigan State University College of Law
WARRANTLESS SEIZURE PROVISION OF ANIMAL CRUELTY STATUTE CONSTITUTIONAL. Author Julie Fothergill, Attorney, VLCT Municipal Assistance Center VLCT News, May 2004
California Criminal Animal Protection Laws by Alison Schiebelhut; George Washington University (GWU) Law School’s Animal Welfare Project 2008
California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Law Handbook (Penal Code 11164-11174.3)
Code Enforcement Unit inspections temporarily suspended by Jessie Faulkner/The Time-Standard April 9, 2008
Police Shooting Pets by Pamela L. Roudebush Animal Legal and Historical Center, 2002 Michigan State University College of Law
For the net’s first documentation of illegal seizures and impoundment, go to Terrorists INDEX
Oregon 2013 Animal Law Changed re Forfeiture of Animals https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/lawsstatutes/2013orLaw0719.pdf
Legal Article re ‘What to do with’ seized animals, and not to store them as evidence: .. ” [i]n CA at least, forfeiture is not uncommon regardless of conviction or acquittal, so why store the animal?” “All states should adopt laws requiring a quick and final determination of a seized animal’s status w/o reference to any criminal proceedings that may be pending against the animal’s owner…”
…..What is the problem here? Pretty much, the problem is that QUICKLY forfeiting animals of people who are not guilty of anything, indicates that owners are being charged with crimes but their property (the animals) can be taken without being guilty. Kind of like how they take kids from parents even when crimes haven’t been proven necessarily. The problem essentially is that the ARs WROTE the seizure laws to TAKE the animals in the first place. Then they want all of us to agree that seizing such animals is no big deal because the “abuser” was harming an animal, but they tend to leave the part out that the so-called abuser is INNOCENT until proven guilty.