The “Raid & Seizure” of animals from a property under the guise of “animal abuse” or “neglect” before any owner has been charged, tried and convicted IS WRONG – on so many levels!!! Two key issues in question: the issue of the violation of a citizen’s right to own property without fear of illegal search and seizure (Constitutional Rights) and the issue of creating undue stress and trauma on animals through the process of a seizure (Animal Welfare). PLEASE – SHARE THIS INFORMATION!!! We NEED to become PROACTIVE on this issue! We need to be able to suggest SOLUTIONS to this problem! This is my idea for a “solution”. If you agree, share it with your state’s Attorney General, state representatives, state Governor, federal representatives and even the President!!! Maybe even your local chapter of the ACLU needs to become involved with this HUGE injustice and breech of Constitutional Rights! We also need to enlist the support of national organizations that are working on issues of Animal Welfare and Animal Ownership.
Rather than “Raid and Seize” in every case of suspected animal abuse or neglect – there needs to be another solution – “Impounding In Place”!?! Authorities should NOT have the right to take all animals from any site until the court has made a decision and the accused is found guilty! The only exception might be animals that are suffering from an EMINENT THREAT of death due to abuse or neglect – that evaluation should be made by a licensed veterinarian not affiliated with the raiding agency and not made by any animal advocate group involved with the seizure (i.e.: A$PCA or H$U$, to name a few). Only animals found to be in serious threat of dying due to intentional abuse or neglect should be removed from a property, with proper warrants. The process of “raid and seize” puts unnecessary strain on local authorities and agencies that are tasked to quickly remove, transport and care for a large volume of animals or species of animals that they are not prepared, experienced or qualified to handle. The process also places extreme and undue stress on animals that may or may not already be in a distressed state. This could harm animals that are not in poor health or further aggravate the condition of animals that may already be in poor health.
The process of “raid and seize” also removes or destroys evidence that could convict or exonerate an owner of any or all charges, making a defense nearly impossible. Once animals have been removed from a property – there is no incentive for the prosecution to move quickly toward a verdict; often pushing the owner into a situation where he feels that he must settle in order to get “out from under” the charges. Often, this means that the owner ends up “giving up” or “turning over” all the animals that were removed from his property, even if no guilt was ever determined. Finally, the cost of having to board animals off the owner’s property for a long period of time can be prohibitive – resulting in a loss of animals through a forced permanent rehoming of the animals, leaving the owner with huge mandatory boarding fees and possibly no animals to reclaim in the event that the owner has been found innocent of charges. In the end, once a court has made a verdict or a settlement has been agreed upon, the owner is left with no animals to reclaim and a huge legal bill that must be paid – regardless of the outcome.
An “impound in place” order would allow an owner to continue to keep and care for his animals with the strict ruling that no animals shall leave the premises, without express written permission by the court, until the case has been tried and a verdict handed down. The accused would be allowed to continue to care for his animals on his property at his own expense, with his own labor. The accused would be charged only for the cost of regular oversite and inspection by a qualified animal expert (a.k.a.: veterinarian) during the impoundment period. IF the animals’ health and safety is jeopardized under the owner’s care and there is an eminent threat of death occurring during the impoundment, the authorities would THEN have the right to seize only the animal(s) that is in jeopardy of dying – BUT only when a court (under the advisement of a licensed veterinarian, not an animal advocate group or ACO) determines the need to do so. IF the owner refuses to cooperate with the impoundment or the court’s oversight, the authorities may have just cause to seize all the animals, if a court determines the need to do so.
Perhaps, if authorities were forced to use “impounding in place” rather than “raid and seize” in abuse or neglect cases, there would be a greater incentive for the prosecution to move quickly with the case! “Impounding in place” would also allow the owner to record and prepare a defense without the authorities going in and removing and destroying all the evidence; which is what happens to the accused when his property has been raided and animals seized! All of the owner’s evidence for defense is removed or ruined and all that is left is the authority’s claim of abuse and/or neglect. With “impoundment in place”, the burden of proof will no longer be on the defense but on the prosecution, as it should be. While the court case proceeds, the owner will be tasked to continue to care for his animals. The owner would also have the opportunity (but not forced) to make any improvements to his management system, with documentation from the overseers, especially where animal health and safety is an issue during the impoundment.
The argument of an owner’s licensure should also NOT be allowed as a reason for immediate “raid and seizure”. Authorities should be required to follow the same principles of “impounding in place” in those situations as well. Until the courts can determine guilt or innocence of any licensure crime, animals that are being kept in a suspected licensing violation should also be “impounded in place” unless there is evidence of an eminent risk of public safety or eminent death of an animal being improperly cared for by the owner. Of course – there are zoning and code issues that may require the removal of some or all animals on a property regardless of how they are being cared for. Those violations do not necessarily constitute abuse or neglect and should be handled separately from charges of abuse or neglect. However, proper warrants should ALWAYS be taken out BEFORE any “raid and seizure” event takes place under those circumstances.
Again – the raiding of personal property and the seizure of animals from that property, under the guise of “animal abuse” or “neglect”, before the owner has been charged, tried and convicted of a crime IS WRONG!!!! It is a violation of an animal owner’s right to own property (a.k.a.: animals) without fear of illegal search and seizure and it creates undue stress and trauma on animals through the process and ordeal of a seizure. Impounding in place can protect an Owner’s rights to “due process” in the court of law, while also protecting the Owner’s animals until a valid decision has been made. No animals should be taken from their owner and their home without a final GUILTY conviction (unless, of course, an animal(s) is in eminent danger of death). PLEASE – SHARE THIS INFORMATION!!! We, as animal owners, NEED to become PROACTIVE on this issue!
I Do NOT Need To Be Rescued· Friday, April 8, 2016