Are All Large Scale Neglect Cases the Same?

It seems that we hear about so many cases where every pet was taken from an owner due to “terrible conditions”, “neglect” and similar descriptive terms.  Instead of having a blanket response to alleged puppy mills or hoarding situations, I am in favor of evaluating each case individually.  To my mind, this is the only approach that makes any sense especially given the lack of legal definitions of such terms as “puppy mill” and “animal hoarder”.

For example, if the authorities come upon a pet situation at Ms. Smith’s farm that looks troubling, I think some initial information gathering should take place in order to make some preliminary assessments.

  • Is Ms. Smith willing to sit down and talk with us regarding the animals in her care?
  • If so, what does she have to say?
  • If not, do we have probable cause to obtain a search warrant from a judge to investigate further?

From there, a wide variety of scenarios may develop.

If authorities find that say, 10 of her 100 pets are suffering from neglect but the other 90 are ok, it’s possible that Ms. Smith can not afford to provide the vet care needed by the 10 in bad shape.  Or perhaps those 10 have grooming needs Ms. Smith is physically unable to provide and doesn’t realize she can take them to Millie down the road for basic grooming every 6 weeks.  It’s also possible that Ms. Smith is unable to differentiate between the 10 neglected pets and the other 90 – that she believes all of them are ok.  In that case, perhaps education is needed or the question of mental illness may come into play.

I could sit here all day typing up various plausible scenarios but hopefully you get my drift.  Each case needs to be evaluated on its own merits – not to explain away or excuse the neglect – but to understand how the situation can best be remedied in a meaningful and long lasting manner while causing the least amount of trauma overall.

If the conditions at the property rise to the level of criminal charges, hopefully those will be brought.  If there is need to remove every living animal from an owner’s property immediately for their own safety, then charges should almost certainly be brought.  If not, are the laws so weak and vague that even an emergency situation doesn’t qualify as prosecutable?  In that case, the laws need to be addressed.

I am inclined to believe that at least some of the so-called hoarding and puppy mill cases we read about – where dozens or hundreds of animals are removed at once – are situations that could have been handled differently and with far less trauma to the dogs.  Some owners may be able to keep a certain number of altered pets responsibly.  Even those diagnosed as mentally ill may be perfectly capable of providing adequate care for a small number of altered pets, especially when there is a family member or friend willing to monitor the situation long term.

Pets can be therapeutic for some patients and allowing a few pets to remain in the home – as opposed to taking away every last one – can be beneficial in several ways.  It makes things easier on the pets who get to stay in their home and may help the owner to understand that the authorities are truly trying to assist rather than vilify.  This could aid in compliance both in the present situation as well as in future.  And it may alleviate a newly petless person’s impulse to run out and get a bunch more pets.

It may not always be necessary to remove every animal immediately, depending on the case.  Obviously in some cases, that is exactly what needs to happen.  But in others, it’s possible pets can be sheltered in place until appropriate arrangements can be made.  Or perhaps removing only some of the animals from the property will allow the owner to make significant and satisfactory improvements.

Anything that can be done to ease the burden placed on local rescues when these large seizures take place will benefit the animals and allow these small groups to use their limited resources judiciously.  As things stand, sometimes “rescued” puppies contract diseases and die in the care of their rescuers and “rescued” dogs are sent to the gas chamber.

Many advocates fought so hard, and continue to fight, for the right of dogs seized in dogfighting busts to be evaluated as individuals.  In many cases now, the idea of evaluating the dogs as individuals has replaced the old blanket response of kill-them-all.  This has resulted in the saving of many lives, which is a primary goal of most animal advocates.  Isn’t it time to re-think our current one-size-fits-all response to puppy mill/hoarding situations?

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17 Comments

  1. Morgana

     /  February 8, 2011

    I do not think that puppy milling and hoarding can be lumped together. That being said, I would also venture that what some people consider hoarding is most certainly NOT hoarding, but perhaps a person’s choice to live with their animals and not with other people (who can blame them?) I much perfer the company of animals to humans, but that does not make me a hoarder. Further, the multi-million dollar organizations (do I need to name names here?) make a good deal of profit by insisting that people who DO prefer animals over people are “hoarders”. This simply is not the case. First, let’s get our definitions clearly stated.

    Reply
    • I’m afraid my title may be misleading. I didn’t mean it to sound as if I was asking if puppymillers are the same as hoarders. Maybe I need to think of a better title.

      Reply
    • Erica

       /  February 8, 2011

      I had to laugh about your comment on perferring animals to people at times. There are days when I am so happy to come home and be greeted by all my four pawed “friends” and their unconditional love. They make me happier and I don’t have to deal with back stabbing and my animals acting like jerks! I totally get it and completely agree!!! :)

      Reply
  2. I would have to agree that it should be taken on an individual basis. I think it would help to make sure there is psych help available as well for the ‘hoarders’, because it’s just going to start again without some help. And that’s a case where having some animals stay would help as well. I mean, if some dreadful tragedy struck us and all of our pets were gone, I’d certainly want to find another needy animal or two that needs me to focus on them, to help get through it.

    I don’t feel you can set a certain number that makes a person a hoarder, because in some cases, three dogs might be way more than a person can care for, but somebody else may be well able to care for 18 dogs. Even a situation where there are 30+ dogs can be a non-hoarding thing, if the dogs are getting the care and attention they need. I’ve been accused of being a hoarder before, with 14 cats and 4 dogs, but my vet/ vet staff and my friends tell me that I’m doing pretty good by our critters, and I believe them. It helps that The Mate is housebound, so he has plenty of time to give them a lot of attention, and I work from home as his caretaker, which gives us a lot more time than many others have. I will admit that I argue with myself every so often when I see an animal in dire need, but I really don’t think I should take on any more. I’m afraid that’s how I could turn into a hoarder… with the thought that “just one more” won’t hurt, and wind up with 60 cats. And even being here full time I don’t think I can manage to take proper care of that many. Wow, I’m babbling away today.

    As far as puppy millers, I think that we really REALLY need to educate a lot more, both the millers (who may not listen anyway) and the general public. If people weren’t buying dogs from other than reputable breeders, the puppy millers would likely find themselves out of business. And that are *some* who probably don’t know any better and might take away some good lessons and improve. Many years ago, before I knew about things like puppy mills and such, I worked in a pet store that sold dogs, and while it was a reasonably decent place, and we did provide fair vet care for them, it still pains me to know that I was helping dogs live in bad conditions and pop out litter after litter.

    And speaking of dogs, ours are ready to go play in the snow, so I’d better suit up and go out with them. Sorry if my rambling took up too much space.

    Reply
  3. Yes, I say that there seems to be room for improvement — specially when some of the animals just end up killed in “shelters”.

    Reply
  4. Erica

     /  February 8, 2011

    Shirley – can I first thank you for attacking this same question that has plagued me for years!!! Other than the media and *shock sensation* that the large rescue groups get from this – which inevitable ends in people opening their wallets. It has become a huge problem – at least in my eyes where we see terms like “puppy mill”, “hoarder”, and “factory farm” from these big large animal rights groups, and yet, no REAL definition has been given for these terms…but it sure doesn’t stop everyone from throwing them around everywhere!!!

    I think maybe sometimes people get so caught up in the thought that when we’ve seen animals in trouble that they have to rush in and grab them – save them all. But to what end? Many times it ends in animals losing their lives ultimately. The more I hear of these cases and see the photos that come with them – I may see a handful of dogs out of a 100 that need help, but over-all the general condition of the animal is such that it doesn’t appear to be in dire need of “rescue”.

    I think if we did it like you outlined above – sit down with the person and talk to find out what is going on and how things got to where they are it would help ALL animal advocates understand the mentality BEHIND the person’s action/inactions. It would open up doors where once none were open. Show us why some do what they do…and maybe where we need to focus public outreach programs, as well as help study the “hoarder” mentality as it comes to animals so that we understand what is going on in their mind and with their animals so that we are better able to assist them in overcoming their problems while at the same time give us a baseline to use where we can learn to attack this differently than we have in the past.

    Everytime I hear of a situation where literally a 100 or more animals are being “rescued” and transported to an undisclosed location for further evaluation, then moved yet again to a humane society, then to a rescue group, sometimes they even go through a move AGAIN to a foster home…and the animals get bounced all over the place before they ever end up in a position to find a forever home. During all this while the rescuers are slapping themselves on the back and offering congrats to each other – I am left worrying about these animals that keep getting shifted around and are probably more scared than they had ever been because of all the strange sights, sounds, and new people around them. I can imagine them scared in their kennels/cages wondering what happened to “Ms. Smith” and their HOME.

    I keep thinking how much easier it would be on the animal if this was done slower and maybe they were given their evaluations one at a time where they are – thereby not causing extra stress (which can actually make the animal MORE susceptible to getting an illness or spreading illness) and keeping them where THEY are more comfortable, while fitting the pieces of the puzzle together. Once the puzzle is together then the group – including the OWNER can discuss what is the best for the dogs/cats in question.

    Granted, we will run into some cases where the animals HAVE to be removed immediately – maybe the owner refuses to work with the authorities…and we should be prepared for those cases. BUT, in the best interest of the animal AND in understanding the situation there needs to be more interaction with the owner and the animals needs to be kept where they are comfortable until everything is lined up to where the dog goes straight to where it will end up – without going through 2-3 moves and a bazillion people they don’t know handling them at each place. Because if what we are doing is truly in the best interest of the animal(s) in question then we need to see the whole picture.

    In some of these situations a little education, maybe even a community outreach program – like a group of people come out and help build up the house/barn/facility where the animals are kept, volunteers can be lined up to come help out each day to feed and provide daily care (teeth brushing/nail clipping/grooming) and exercise until the dogs can be placed in forever homes if they need to be removed – all without the additional burden of locating a place to house the animals and the endless moving around can end. As that REALLY would be in the best interest of the animals – the less they are moved around the better THEIR overall health: mental & physical will be.

    It is a given that not all situations will be able to be played out in the same manner, but if we are truly interested in doing what is best for the animals it starts at understanding the reasons behind the owners actions…and finding a solution before putting the animals through any ADDITIONAL stress. (Plus it would probably help keep numbers down at shelters and rescues – helping with funding problems they may have or space limitations. There would be no more need to kill for space. I could go on and on with the benefits for all involved…)

    An additional benefit would be that we can help others learn the need and benefit of utilizing media outlets to locate homes for those animals that need rehomed. Instead of people reading about the raid at XYZ’s they could be reading about the animals and the condition of each one and hopefully instead of opening their wallets they will open their homes to one of the animals in need. Doing away with the need to pull together huge rescue operations to gather, transport, and move animals around like they are no more than boxes that need a new storage facility until they find their end – either in a new home or being killed.

    Shirley – thanks again for this one…I have wondered for years WHY it has been done this way and think it goes back to one of those: “It’s always been done this way. Why change it?” situations….

    Reply
    • Morgana

       /  February 8, 2011

      Well put, Erica. 100% agreed.

      Reply
    • Yes please! However, every *raid* or *bust* or *intervention* I have been a part of had an overtone of *police* and *judge* and *legal* that just shot that whole “we care about your animals” theory right out the window!
      I have friends (and maybe me too) who hoard to protect the animals from the system!
      Read the comments on some of the big stories. The 100 sled dogs killed in BC…the guy is in hiding! The BC SPCA is making money! The public is outraged…but where was everybody when the dogs were at risk? I identify with that guy, cuz I know how he felt. I only have a couple dozen, but it’s really hard when you feel all alone and you ask for help and you get slapped down or ignored.
      $800 for a cavalier pup makes some busts VERY lucrative! But I’ve had some foster dogs for four years and I can’t get them adopted into a forever home for just $100!
      There’s marketing, and then there’s stealing. And I think the big groups (need I name names?) are very good at both.
      HOW can they legally steal? Why, by promising not to prosecute! And if you’re overwhelmed and know that you can’t do right by each and every critter in your care, you’re an easy target to be guilt-tripped right out of your rights!

      Reply
  5. Susan

     /  February 8, 2011

    Thanks for asking the hard questions and keeping us to task about this stuff.

    Reply
  6. I never watched the show “Hoarders” until recently and I couldn’t stop thinking of the poor couple in New Mexico with all the cats in the first season.

    Here they were trying to do right by the strays and ferals that came to their house or were dropped off by people who knew they would take them in. You could tell they weren’t malicious and they said they had as many fixed as they could but it gets expensive on a fixed income.

    So here comes the self righteous animal control who take all of the cats and promptly kills the majority. What about helping them set up a TNR program, with shelter and a feeding station outside of their garage? What about adopting out the friendly cats and making sure that these home owners knew they could count on the shelter to help them out if more cats showed up? It just made me so incredibly angry. And the shelter goes away wiping their hands about a “job well done” and “look at all these cats we rescued.” Absolute BULLSHIT.

    Reply
    • Morgana

       /  February 9, 2011

      I know for fact that in NM and AZ cats are “persona non gratia” as quoted me by an ACO. But that these people were subjected to the despair that the animals they were trying to help were killed is reprehensible!

      Reply
  7. Slightly OT as it’s about horses rather than dogs, but a fairly good summary of what prosecutions are intended to achieve.

    Over here it’s perfectly possible to have a situation where the local authority demands that someone reduces the number of animals they own, while the SPCA says they’re happy all of them are well cared for and doesn’t want to get them. (Which obviously opens a whole new lot of cans of worms).

    http://www.thisisnorthdevon.co.uk/news/70-seized-dogs-given/article-2859367-detail/article.html

    Reply
  8. Kelley

     /  March 28, 2011

    Oh dear lord yes. This should be the law everywhere IMHO. Thank you for getting it.

    Reply
  9. Thank you for “getting it” I run a small rescue, AC took my animals but it was a malicious thing, not a harder type of situation. In the course of trying to get them back & have met 4 other “Hoarders” who’s animals were removed, all healthy, all well cared for, but small towns with people who had crossed someone, usually rural areas where Animal Control was a Sheriff coming out to shoot a stray or injured dog & no shelters. Thank God in our state we have a pretty good rescue network so even though the animals are being traumatized, they are not being killed. In one situation they ripped out a puppy’s teeth trying to catch it & left it bloody in in it’s kennel the whole day. The puppies taken to the shelter died a slow painful death from secondary infections, but the adults the rescues took I hope lived. I also took in over 66 of the Eskimo’s from the puppy mill raid, which the HSUS came in to pull out, & after the cameras were gone they dumped all the dogs on local shelters, shared only 4000.00 of the proceeds they took in with other shelters & when I asked for some of those funds they claimed to have spent the millions these dogs brought in on: “room & board”. We have incredible shelters as well who would hold the dogs for me until I was able to take the next batch, when I had 31 of them I had the word hoarder thrown out at me… I just laughed, it off without thinking about it, now I realize how much in danger we all could’ve been. Then again I have worked with people very quietly who have had up to 126 dogs & help them get the animals out a little at a time, I have people contact me often who know they are in trouble & know they need help or people who know of them who wont seek help. We have managed to pull 420 animals last year from these types of situations & in many cases I have left 20 to 30 animals on the property because they were being well cared for & they were loved. (which is part of why I got in trouble with the local AC but not all of it) Please don’t buy into the media shows, really take a good look at most of the animals when they are there & trying to round them up, the animals most times more than not, are healthy, but the terror they are showing is unmistakable… I have seen hoarders, mills, & overwhelmed people & even a hoarder can be helped with kindness & education, I have proven this 5 times in the last year, because honestly, they LOVE these animals, if you can show them the reasons why having so many is not healthy for the animals, they are more than happy to do what is in the best interest of the animals, yes I have a “Hoarder” (hate that stupid word) who is the one with 30 critters still but she has the financial means, a mobile vet, & now volunteers, groomers, trainers, & yard help who let her know when it is the animals time to go to a new home or stay with her, most of her animals have been dumped on her property she doesn’t go out seeking them, in the time I was there she had over 14 dumped on her.

    Reply
  10. Tawny

     /  March 29, 2011

    While the alleged “crime of hoarding” has been popularized on shows such as Animal Planet, many cases of “hoarding” are caused by an emotional or reasoning deficit of some kind. “Hoarding” in and of itself is not a mental illness although it is being publicized as such by the animal rights organizations and their affiliates. It is symptomatic of something else, perhaps a compulsive or obsessive disorder. The need to collect anything, be it animals, pieces of paper, clothing, shoes, or to not throw anything away may be a reaction to a loss of something in one’e life – a marriage, a life partner, a parent, a child, a long time pet companion, love, or something traumatic like a loss of reputation or self esteem. Maybe someone does not know how to make a decision to get rid of things. It may be an emotional reaction to being socially isolated from people, friends or family. Or it might be a protective mechanism to an emotionally abusive situation. Hoarding anything may be the result of many things, or a combination of things. Unfortunately, pets are still to be considered “property” in most if not all states. Although a few states are coming around, even in the context of awarding emotional distress damages for the loss of a companion animal and recognizing that many people consider a companion animal as a member of the family, such is not the case in most states. Abuse and negligence of the needs of any animal are sad and unfortunate. While the law in civil cases treats the loss of any animal like the loss of something fungible like a car, criminal laws treat people quite differently than if they had abused or neglected that car.

    “Negligence” in animal cases should be treated differently than intentional conduct, as it may result from a “hoard” of reasons. Intentional abuse – e.g., hanging your dog from the eaves and beating it with a 2′ x 4′, or intentional dog fighting – is properly treated in the criminal courts. Such behavior truly must result, in my opinion, from sociopathy and our jails are filled with sociopaths.

    Many animal cruelty laws are written to allow subjective interpretation of neglect and abuse. For example, if your neighbor believes your animals look malnourished in the field, you may be charged with criminal neglect or abuse. The neighbor may not realize that you just bought those animals at a livestock auction, they were grossly underweight at the time, and you saved them from a slaughter buyer. If your dogs enter into a dog fight, provoked or unprovoked, on your own fenced property while you are away, you could be held to answer for criminal charges as in a case in Washington State where a woman received 550 days in jail. She had fenced property, the dogs were on her property, and the dogs were in the care of a keeper at the time. The woman was in rescue, the dogs were all found to be in very good health when impounded with no injuries but they were held for 84 days before return to her by law enforcement. It is unclear who or what provoked the dogs. Problem neighbors made a videotape. What is clear is that she paid a dear price for unintentional and natural canine conduct losing everything including her liberty, long time career, and all assets including a new home. Her premises were clean and beautiful. The case is currently on appeal. While this was more a case about allegations of dogs as “potentially dangerous dogs” under civil dog laws, prosecutors tried her under a broad and vague criminal law “transporting and confining animals in an unsafe manner”. The law, used generally to prosecute those in the livestock field for transporting livestock under unsafe conditions, is all encompassing. The law can be used to prosecute an individual whether dogs are “confined” on or off an owner’s property if the dogs engaged in repugnant behavior (thus, “unsafe confinement”). The behavior was not repugnant to the dogs, only to those humans who witnessed it. She was held accountable though she had taken steps to keep dogs separated, and for them to be supervised at all times. She had never had any previous criminal offense. The property was fenced farm acreage, not a city setting. There were no leash or confinement laws. The law in Washington allows for the keeping of up to 50 mature dogs and any number of young dogs. Although she had a settlement agreement in place with prosecutors when they returned her dogs to her in writing (she was forced by threats to kill all dogs to relinquish some of her dogs), prosecutors kept this Settlement Agreement secret and did not advise the judge at sentencing that they had settled. So, at sentencing the Judge unlawfully ordered the complete forfeiture of her dogs – a second time – using an animal forfeiture law. Rescuers rushed in to save the dogs which law enforcement openly threatened to kill on site this time. The forfeiture under RCW 16.52.200(3) in Washington State was unlawful. In order to forfeit animals (or any property in any criminal case under state and federal forfeiture laws) the animals MUST be in possession of authorities, or have been used as evidence in a criminal case, or are classified as unlawful “contraband”. Dogs are not “contraband” like drugs or paraphenalia. Since these dogs were all discovered to be healthy, they were never used as evidence in the trial. While this case is the exception to many animal neglect and cruelty cases, this type of law is in place in many of the states as these animals laws are generally drafted by big animal rights groups to be enforced in all of the states. This could occur to anyone under these current laws.

    Facts arising in a “civil” matter, such as a dog being a public nuisance or a potentially dangerous dog, may now be tried by overzealous elected prosecutors and law enforcement as criminal matters. These cases get an enormous amount of publicity when the media gets wind of a story. Non-profits such as local humane society affiliates, local newspapers and prosecutors alike, profit from these cases. Animal cases sell news. My favorite TV news program always ends its program with some cute or funny animal story. Donations come flooding in to the local shelters, and the prosecutor gets a massive amount of publicity great for election bids. The HSUS, PETA, ADLF and other large animal rights organizations profit as well when the laws that they draft and push through the states are zealously enforced by local affiliates. Animal rights is big business for all involved in these situations. There is much more at stake than meets the eye.

    Owners who breed for profit and have dozens or hundreds of animals may be a different species entirely. The intent and motive for keeping the animals is different; it is for commercialization. There should be mandatory regulation of these facilities by agencies such as the USDA where regular inspections are mandated. While the US District Court for the Ninth Circuit in an Idaho case a couple of years ago recognized that dogs can be “livestock” under any variety of definitions in different dictionaries, including Black’s Law Dictionary, pet breeders are still treated differently than AG breeders. While personally I do not believe there is anything wrong with the commercialization of an animal (the HSUS, PETA, ADLF commercialize them don’t they?), because of the profit motive behind keeping the animals, the living environment for a multitude of animals must be periodically monitored. I am sure we have all have seen the deplorable conditions of feed lots for animals awaiting slaughter where profit only is the clear motive. When profit is the motive, intent for keeping the animals is different and facilities must be inspected by an overseer.

    I do believe that “hoarding” situations with clear evidence of unreasonable neglect of animals or animals not getting proper medical situation (numerous carcasses), should be evaluated carefully on a case by case basis with a team approach – a trained mental health professional, a licensed veterinarian, a representative of law enforcement and perhaps a close friend or relative. I believe that the local shelters who are killing animals because of financial or logistical constraints, or who are adopting out the confiscated animals at $200-$400 each to pay for overhead, should be kept off of the team; I see an inherent conflict of interest. When the team is assembled, it should work with the alleged hoarding offender to try to determine the cause or need to have multiple companion animals whether it be financial, emotional, or clear mental illness. The hoarder should be assisted in some other way, and the situation should again be monitored by an overseer for correction of any deficiencies. If the hoarder does not correct the deficiencies after a specified reasonable period of time, again this should be a “civil” matter, and the animals are automatically forfeited to an appropriate group.

    “Notice” is an important concept of our legal system, legal or civil. If the hoarder is not on clear “Notice” that conduct is immoral or repugnant in a civilized society, then no severe sanction should be imposed. We all assume that everyone was brought up to recognize boundaries and mores for living in a civilized society, or that everyone has similar values or emotional components. They clearly do not. Putting someone on “Notice” is absolutely necessary. Give them 30 days to take care of the problem.
    A final comment: What is more frightening to me is the erosion of civil liberties in this country and the summary imposition of forfeiture of personal property, without due process. Notice and opportunity to be heard and correct are absolutely essential unless the conduct is clearly intentional and unconscionable. Many of the animal laws do not have this constitutional component for a civil forfeiture process.

    Under US and state laws, in a forfeiture situation, a civil forfeiture procedure must be followed by law enforcement. Police regulatory power is an awesome gift and frightening when abused. Law enforcement may delegate that power to others to enforce who are not trained. If the property seized is personal property, one claiming an interest must have a certain amount of time to respond, and if a response is made, a hearing must be held. Courts, prosecutors and law enforcement do not have “inherent” powers to order forfeiture of property even used in the commission of a blatant crime, let alone in a civil “hoarding” situation. Most states have a statutory civil forfeiture procedure.

    Unless all of you “innocent” people out there are willing to give up all of your rights to convict that one alleged offender in order to summarily seize his or her property (animals) without due process (I am not!), you must hold law enforcement and the states accountable for using the exclusive lawful mechanisms that are in place under state and federal forfeiture procedures. Forfeiture endangers American Rights. Law enforcement cannot confiscate property, and then shortcut the process by threatening to destroy all of the healthy animals if they are not relinquished by the owner. This is unlawful duress not to mention emotional blackmail. Even if property is considered unlawful contraband in a criminal case, seizure of the property does not automatically divest an owner of his property interests. The government (and animal shelters, AND rescue operations) must follow proper lawful forfeiture procedures to divest anyone of his personal property interest. This is not happening in animal cases.

    This concept is as important to me in these situations, as in getting help for the animals or collector if needed, or in prosecuting those intentional acts that are socially reprehensible. I have seen and heard of far too many situations where animals are subjectively removed by shelter workers who are delegated the law enforcement power to seize an animal, under a warrant or otherwise, because of overgrown toenails or a few piles of poop in a kennel, or a watering system that is not a “continuous watering system”. Or maybe the animals were just fed, and there is no longer any food in their bowls, or perhaps the dog hasn’t been brushed in a while and has matting, or a dog has fleas. Give me a break.

    Shelters and rescue must also comply with lawful forfeiture procedures to divest an owner of property. I also believe that a veterinary Affidavit (where a vet lays his license on the line to state under perjury that an animal(s) is in dire need of medical attention), is a necessary component of any Affidavit for Probable Cause for the taking of the property of others. A veterinarian is an unbiased, neutral, and normally not overzealous party to the proposed seizure. If animals need to be removed, let’s make it proper and lawful, and not frivolous or the subject of a decision by lay persons or over zealous law enforcement. And the practice of not allowing an alleged offender to see his/her animals pending the final outcome of guilt or innocence in a case, serves no real purpose other than retribution and emotional punishment based on subjective reasoning of shelter workers. What would be the premises liability? The animals are in cages. To reason that the animal will suffer is to attribute human emotion to animals. There is no clear winner in animal hoarding cases. The animals suffer, and the owner or keeper suffers. The well being of the animal is the pretext for many of these seizures and takings. Many times, however, other factors are at play behind the scenes. It is these factors that concern me. The price of defending these cases is duress in and of itself. Generally the animal collector must compromise, right or wrong, or pay a very steep price. Like an alleged child molester, guilty or innocent,these charges are a lifelong stigma for anyone. Wrongful prosecutions and seizures result in civil rights cases which is a far greater cost to local communities than a simple team approach would be in the first place.

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