Animal Cruelty Laws II

Seriously. know the laws of your state long before the animal cops come knocking on your door…

Dog Catcher Gone Wrong


Recently, Animal Planet and Oprah have featured animal hoarders on television to invite us into a bizarre world of mental illness and suffering. Extreme cases shock us and strain resources and heart strings. People say that hoarding cases are on the rise but facts don’t bear this out. Cases of care takers with too many pets are reported at about 5-6% of the pet population for over a decade. Of course, the cases may be getting wider attention for which there has been a backlash.

Anyone who has more than a dog and two cats is now scrutinized as either a suspected hoarder, a puppy mill or at least a crazy cat lady. This is unbalanced and has unfortunately infected law enforcement. Since the only states that mandate training for animal control officers are Texas, Virginia and North Carolina, it’s possible for an investigator to have a badge and no training in protecting a citizen’s constitutional rights or even in collecting evidence. [bloggers note-just because they are supposed to be trained, it doesn’t mean that they are…and certificated for euthanizing animals means they became a legal killing machine and nothing more!!!]

In Pennsylvania, a well known breeder was told by a dog warden that she could avoid prosecution by relinquishing some of her dogs then and there to the warden. He said this would bring her into compliance with an animal limit and thus avoid charges of animal cruelty, which she believed would destroy her reputation even if she later prevailed in court.

Another case in Maryland, involved dogs removed from their fenced backyard because it was raining, despite the fact that they were clean and healthy and had access to dog houses. In West Virginia, a sheriff who received a report of starving and dead horses requested that his State Veterinarian grant him access to a farm. The State Vet reported she could only do that if there was a contagious disease suspected. The Sheriff looked no further and did not rescue the horses. As it turns out, in both cases, no charges resulted in any of these cases.

When I became a dog catcher (yes, I know the label has gone out of fashion) it was not what you would call a popular job. Now the TV Show Animal Cops has made the job seems glamorous and powerful. In many ways, it is. But honoring due process is one of the most admirable aspects of working in law enforcement. Trampling the constitution in the name of justice or even in the name of saving animals cannot be done because justice and due process can never take separate paths.

I hope you find that most dog catchers, animal wardens, or cruelty investigators are dedicated to performing a service and ending cruel treatment of all animals. But if they have not received adequate training before being given a badge, you must know your rights. I encourage you to seek the advice of a lawyer with experience in cases involving animal ownership if you have questions.

1.US Citizens have the right to notification of any legal action against us prior to the consequence of that action. The only exception would be when an emergency requires an officer to take immediate action. Emergencies such as a danger to the community. This is what the State Veterinarian needed to take action in the West Virginia case. However the Sheriff could have used the next item to take action.

2. The government, or it’s agent, must have a letter from a judge to search for or seize property, including animals, except in an emergency such as an person or animal in immeidate danger or the strong likelihood that evidence of a crime will be irrevocably lost by waiting. Of course, an emergency situation must be documented including the inability to locate an animal’s owner during the emergency. In the case of the dogs in the rain, treatment by a veterinarian for harm from exposure would be needed to remove the dogs from the owner’s property.

3. A law enforcement officer can summons you to court based on his understanding of any law that he believes you have violated. This is usually written on a citation. No law enforcment officer is empowered to make deals or promises about prosecution with anyone suspected of violating the law. If you are summoned to court, the court will decide if a crime has occurred and if there will be any consequence. So in the PA case, the officer was misusing his enforcement powers by instructing the breeder to give up ownership of dogs to avoid trouble.

4. You have the right to wait for your attorney to arrive before discussing matters further. You do not have to allow an officer to wait on your private property but understand that if he cannot see you he is empowered to arrest you to prevent you from destroying evidence or leaving the area. If you call your attorney, state that you intend to speak to your attorney privately because if the officer is present when you speak to your attorney, the officer can use anything you say against you in court.

5. During the execution of a warrant, you have a right to watch, film, record, or document in any way that does not interfere with officers. You may have to be physically searched to be considered safe to do this. This is not wiretapping because a government employee in the performance of his duties is not protected by a right to privacy. The press may be restricted from documenting a search but the property owner is not. [bloggers note-How come the press doesn’t know this?!? They walk past owners and once the deed done there’s no stopping anything!!!]

6. If an officer says you are not free to leave, he must tell you all of these rights and allow you to exercise them.

You might think that cruelty investigators would not want me to be so free with this information to potential violators of the law. (Although I doubt that is the audience of my Examiner column!) The problem is that if this information is not available to each and every United States Citizen, then innocent people are not protected from improper use of a badge, which all good officers want to prevent, anyway.


Is this not what I have been saying all along!?! Have you looked up the cruelty laws in your state?!? Have you looked at the laws concerning search and seize?!? These laws were designed to PROTECT you from abuse of due process and not abused by enforcement and prosecution to STEAL your property!!! It’s happening everyday somewhere in this country and SCAM-rescues claiming it as rescue when it is not!!! Anytime you see the word sanctuary you must ask yourself if it really is or a SCAM-tuary on the verge of SCUM-tuary and in reality a Kill facility or Roadside Zoo!!! Any…that’s ANY facility with RESCUE or SANCTUARY as part of it’s name or HUMANE just might be a SCAM to support their hobby and helping to create bad laws and bans to be the only game in town…

Disclaimer connected to this blog…Things said are of my opinion and the opinion of others…Stay tuned -B

~ by topcatsroar on May 2, 2013.

3 Responses to “Animal Cruelty Laws II”

  1. As a fellow animal control officer I reiterate the authors message to know your rights! While I perform my duties with the citizens rights always at the forefront of my thoughts, I know many ACO’s who do not. We must be diligent to remain within the lawful limits of the laws we enforce and not to step on and over the rights of the citizens we serve. For instance, to make deals with citizens that they can chose to turn over their animals or face being charged with an offense is not legal. ACO’s may not remove animals at their whim from someone’s private property either, unless those animals are in imminent need, are facing a life and death matter. Generally citizens are not aware of this and do end up being bullied by the authorities as a result. For me it boils down to a simple belief… treat others as I would want to be treated in the same situation. While enforcing laws pertaining to animals ACO’s, well… a good ACO will always maintain a sense of compassion and respect for the citizen, no matter what they are investigating, resist the temptation to take any part of their investigation personally and deliver facts and the lawful relief that is available to the citizen if removal of any animal is necessary. God bless her for writing this amazing article! Any ACO worth their salt as a public servant would applaud this knowledge being shared extensively!

    • Unfortunately, more cases than not, do not have caring and compassionate people in charge these days with the unlawful and illegal taking of animals while abusing the rights of animal owners or we wouldn’t see such a high rate of unnecessary animal seizures and the civil liberty abuse continuing…Including the taking of animals with no warrant in place and no notification to anyone, no citations allowing time for corrections, trespass, owners told charges will be dropped and find themselves in court on criminal charges that they were told would be dropped, animals kept thru ‘civil seizure’ even thou the animals were taken on a criminal warrant and the charges already dropped before a hearing with laws stating that the animals are to be returned without criminal conviction.

      There are cases heard in lesser courts that can not hear such cases as dictated by the state constitution as no law is able to be above the constitution; and a matter of constitutional rights can not be ruled on by a layman, non lawyer justice of the peace hearing a case with a fine greater than dictated by the law and/or the value of the animals being greater than what the court is allowed to rule on.

      It is not just enforcement breaking laws and stretching the truth but includes prosecutors wrongly convicting cases when the prosecutor is to also protect innocent victims of enforcement.

      The prosecution is to abide by the law and not pick and chose which law it will obey in matters of which court can legally hear a case, denying a trial by jury, making false statements to the media, giving permission for the execution of animals without court order of animals seized as evidence or any extenuating circumstance of animals suffering…

      Frankly I could go on and on with the illegal taking of animals at taxpayer expense serving the benefit of a not for profit organization that proclaims a victory for the animals when there was no victory.

      When a single citizen is abused by wrongful enforcement and prosecutors putting feathers in their cap for a wrongful win, it becomes, ‘something else entirely….It’s all done under the color of law and as taxpayers, it is everyone’s responsibility to help make it stop…When any member of a community is abused under the color of law, then so is the entire community.

      I thank you for your comment and doing your job properly and with compassion for animal owners but this is rarely seen these days as there is money and glory in the taking.

      You and the writer of this article are rare these days-she left the Humane Society of the United States and I believe it is because of the HSUS directive for seizing animals is unlawful. Best -B

  2. Rule and procedures to be followed in both acquiring and executing a search warrant may be found in your state’s Code of Criminal Procedures. The exact numbers vary from state to state, but most are similar, and modeled after federal rules. It is to your advantage to read, understand, and be aware of, these rules. In their zeal, officers serving warrants often overlook some or many of the rules. Generally, they cannot bring in help from outside your county (unless they are federal officers conducting a federal search). They must have the warrant, and they must write up an inventory BEFORE taking anything off the property, not afterwards. They must either give you a copy of that inventory, or, if you are not there, leave a copy on the property where you can find it when you return. Just leaving a business card and note telling you to call them does not fulfill this requirement. And they may NOT take anything that is not specifically described in the warrant (other than contraband in plain view). There are other provisions. Arm yourself with the knowledge!

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