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Oregon Appeals Court Ruling Addresses Warrantless Search Of Animals

OPB | April 17, 2014 12:06 p.m. | Updated: April 17, 2014 3:29 p.m.

The original case dates back to 2010 when an animal control officer came to Amanda Newcomb’s home on a tip that she was abusing her dog. The officer found the dog in what was described as “near emaciated condition,” seized the dog and brought it to a veterinarian. In addition to feeding the dog, the vet tested it to find out if it was suffering from any diseases. In 2011, Newcomb was convicted of animal neglect, but on Wednesday the Oregon Court of Appeals threw out the conviction.

The appeals court ruling (pdf) upholds the right of animal control officers to seize an animal they believe is being abused or neglected, but also said that because animals are considered property, the veterinarian was wrong to test the dog without a warrant.

We’ll parse the details of this case with Kathy Hessler, director of the Animal Law Clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School.

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