Posts tagged ‘civil rights’
These days the media seems to be filled with stories of dogs seized from puppy mills, dog fighting operations, animal hoarders and abusive homes. Millions of average pet owners across America read these stories with a mixture of outrage against the animal abusers and pity for the abused animals. Relieved that the unfortunate animals were saved from a terrible fate, they move on to the next story, never considering that there might be more to the story than meets the eye…
I doubt that any of us thinks that we’re an animal abuser. While ideas on owning and raising dogs are at least as wide-ranging (and deeply emotionally driven) as those on rearing children, most of us feel that our ideas fall well within the mainstream and that we have little to fear from animal rights legislation. But if we remain content to sit back – silent and uninformed – will we find that our dogs are next in line to be seized?
The idea is not as far-fetched as you may think. Today, Never Yet Melted (go and read it all!) reports that:
The sort of people who go in for basseting are typically well-educated, upper middle-class animal lovers of a preparatory school sort of background. In other words, absolutely the last sort of people imaginable as dog abusers or law breakers.
But neither gentility nor middle-aged respectability was sufficient to protect the Murder Hollow’s master Wendy Willard from a full scale raid by Philadelphia police, nor did it prevent 13 hounds from being taken from their kennels and turned over to a private animal rights organization hostile to hunting.
At night, and without warning the SPCA of Pennsylvania showed up at raided Wendy Willard’s kennel and seized the dogs under the aegis of a newly passed law that allows no more than twelve animals to be kept on any property in Philadelphia County (note if they had just given her a chance it appears that Willard may have been able to get a waiverthat would allow her to keep her dogs). Not only were the animals turned over to (i.e. given away to) a private entity – some of the hounds seized were reportedly the property of another person and were only being kept at Murder Hollow temporarily. Apparently the jack-booted AR fanatics of the PSPCA didn’t give Willard a chance to explain that.
The dog seized have now been spread out among several local shelters and rescue groups (in other kinds of cases – do the police make a habit of giving seized property away?). Neither the dogs’ owners or other area basset pack owners have been able to get any information on the dogs’ location or welfare.
It may be a natural reaction to feel smugly self-rightous when we hear stories about dogs seized from those kinds of people (i.e. the ones whose practices we don’t happen to agree with) but it’s time to wake up and smell the dog poop. If a yuppie suburban basset fancier with no criminal record whatsoever isn’t safe from having her beloved dogs seized without notice – none of us is.
The goal of many of these raids – especially those featured prominently in the media – have nothing to do with animal welfare. I’m willing to bet dollars to dog toys that the hounds of Murder Hollow were healthier and happier than most over-fed, under-exercised suburban pets. The goal is the kind of publicity that fills the coffers of ‘humane’ groups who lobby for anti-pet legislation and don’t operate shelters. And the long term the goal is animal rights – and the end of all pet breeding and ownership.
It’s time. Time to take lobbying power away from the animal rights extremists who want to chip away at pet ownership until it’s gone. Time to tell our legislators and representative that animal seizures must be conducted in ways that preserve our rights – not as publicity events. That protecting the animals seized includes considering the possibility that they might be returned to the home they were taken from – and that, as with other seized property, this consideration needs to be given precedence. (I don’t understand why these kinds of seizures aren’t prohibited under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment – perhaps someone out there can educate me?)
UPDATE: Here’s Walt Hutchens post re this from Pet-Law. (Walt says all his posts can be cross-posted.)
Ms. Willard was raided by the PSPCA and police due to a first time noise complaint, and told that unless she released 11 of her 23 hounds to them they would seize them all, under a new 12-dog-limit city ordinance.
As my friend Shirly posted over at YesBiscuit:
I have no way of knowing the full facts of the case or whether the post making the rounds is accurate. But to my mind, even if we totally discount it as fiction, the scenario is at least plausible which is what concerns me most.
Exactly. I’m a huge fan of respecting the law. But even if Ms. Willard was not in compliance with zoning regs, didn’t have a kennel license – or even if she had a filty, nasty, disgusting kennel – she did not deserve to have her dogs, in effect, stolen from her. The right thing to do, if this was indeed a first time complaint – was to cite her and give her a reasonable time period to come into compliance with the law.
This is happening more and more and it scares the crap out of me. There but for the grace of God…
UPDATE AUGUST 10, 2009:
See new blog posts at Terrierman’s Daily Dose; Stephen Bodio’s Querencia; Never Yet Melted, Philly.com and YesBiscuit and the news story published by The Philadelphia Daily News – and make up your own mind.
This week the LaCrosse Tribune reported a story of dog ownership – and respect for life – that went terribly wrong. Unfortunately the guilty parties will likely come out of it with everything but their dignity intact while the victim – an innocent dog – paid the ultimate price.
The attorney who is representing the La Crescent, Minnesota couple who admit they poisoned a neighbor’s dog is arguing that their right to do so is protected under the 14th Amendment.
If the law allows farmers to kill dogs that threaten their livestock, does that right apply to city dwellers when a dog poops on their lawn and barks at their kids?
That’s the argument posed by the attorney for a La Crescent couple charged with poisoning their next-door neighbors’ pet.
Tim Guth has asked a judge to dismiss animal cruelty charges against Scott and Tammy Bailey on the grounds their prosecution violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. Because Minnesota law allows people to kill dogs to protect livestock, Guth contends the Baileys should not be held liable for killing a dog that defecated in their yard, growled at them and ate their food.
I can, to some degree, understand the Bailey’s frustration. When we lived in rural Wisconsin my neighbors’ free range dogs peed in my garage, crapped in my garden, attacked my puppy, whined incessantly at my door when my girl was in heat and snapped and lunged at me – all while I was in the “safety” of my own yard. Calling and showing up on at my neighbors’ (as in more than one neighbor) doorsteps to complain got me little more than confused blank looks and sincere assurances that “He’s never been a problem before.”
Speaking of blank looks:
The Blanks and a police officer answered questions from attorneys Wednesday at a hearing in Houston County District Court.
Both Blanks denied hearing complaints about Sadie.
Emma Blank, who works with special needs children at La Crescent Elementary, told of how Sadie was gentle with children and would come across the alley to play with students at recess.
Judge James Fabian asked how the dog was able to come when called.
Blank replied Sadie was free to roam but was trained to stay on the family’s deck. (bold mine)
Right, and I’m Queen of freakin’ England.
Newsflash – the only dog that is going to stay on a deck, by itself, all day long, when the only people around are the really interesting distractions that exist only in the world off the deck – is either a very ill dog or – maybe – one that is contained by an invisible fence. A healthy, happy, normal dog has far better things to do than lounge around by himself on a deck all day. Especially when the neighbors are serving steak.
As maddeningly annoying as it may be, the Blank’s brazenly irresponsible management of their dog in no way excuses the Bailey’s conduct. Shooting a dog in the act of worrying livestock or attacking a pet or person is an act committed in the immediate defense of person or living property. And – it’s a duty that no good farmer looks forward to. Poisoning a dog because his owners let him run loose to steal your steaks and crap all over your yard is not an act of self defense – it’s just cold, pointless, premeditated cowardice.
Last time I checked acts of cowardice were not among those protected by our Constitution.
When I was faced with a deluge of obnoxious canine invaders owned by irresponsible dolts I didn’t load my gun or serve antifreeze appetizers. I’m not capable of shooting or poisoning innocent dogs and I wasn’t prepared for the kind of range war that would break out if I persisted in complaining or, worse yet, started calling the sheriff (we had no animal control) every time an infraction occurred. After considering our options husband and I elected to suck it up and build a fence – ’cause you see – two wrongs really don’t make a right.
The Agitator blogs on a disturbing number of recent cases where innocent dogs were shot by clueless thugs police officers.
Check out the Pet Cave, a combination bookcase and dog house from the most excellent Bookshelf blog.
BioNet reports that F.W. Albert of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology is working to find the genetic basis for tameness. As he notes, it will be a “formidable challenge’.
In our Proof That The world Is Going Crazy category the Springfield, MO News Leader reports:
State Rep. Jim Viebrock plans to resurrect a controversial bill requiring a veterinarian to inspect farm animals suspected of being abused before authorities can impound the animal.
Let me get this straight, it’s a controversial idea to have someone who is an expert in assessing the health of animals inspect them before they are seized, impounded and then killed or sold?
Well, I suppose in a world where hundreds of dogs are killed in the name of “rescue” it might make sense. I mean, after all, if we can justify killing nearly 200 seized dogs without giving them even basic veterinary and behavior assessments — and do it before the owners they were seized from had been convicted of any charges — it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to require that an impartial, expert third party evaluate the condition of an animal before it’s seized from its home.
Who cares that some many of the folks conducting these search and seizure operations are armed volunteers with personal agendas who operate outside government control? That they weren’t hired (and can’t be fired) by the public or local municipalities, that they are often hired by radical animal rights groups who seek to end all use of animals, or that they don’t seem to think that they need to preserve our civil rights.
‘Cause after all, when we seize and impound animals based on nothing more than the opinion of one everyday citizen (even if he is a man with a great big political axe to grind), we might save one more animal. Well we may save it — if it isn’t killed by its saviors after it’s seized.
Regardless, one crazy Missouri State Representative keeps fighting the good fight:
By bringing in an impartial state veterinarian from the Department of Agriculture to inspect an animal, Viebrock’s bill aims to curtail abuse of the system by some animal rescue groups that reportedly inject themselves into alleged abuse cases for the chance to sell and profit from the animals.
“People believe that the animal rights activists are all good-natured, big-hearted people,” he said.
In some cases in Missouri and across the country, Viebrock said, owners have been acquitted of animal abuse charges, but their herds have already been sold off by the government or given away to animal sanctuaries.
“There are some of those folks who really are stealing from people who aren’t guilty,” Viebrock said.
He added that in some cases, alleged abuse is overblown by animal rights groups to get law enforcement agencies to obtain a search warrant.
“If you have nine healthy horses and one skinny old mare standing there … you can take pictures of that mare and excite an animal rights group beyond imagination,” Viebrock said.
While Viebrock acknowledges the bill faces a tough uphill climb against well-funded and well-organized animal rights activists, “we need to keep that conversation alive.”
Amen brother. We need to keep this conversation alive.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m most certainly not in favor of animal abuse and I think that animals who are truly in peril should be seized and impounded (but, please – not killed); but instigating search, seizure and impoundment operations to prove a political point is wrong. And doing it to get publicity and make money reselling the animals you stole illegally seized from an innocent person is reprehensible. And — it voilates our civil rights.
If thats a controversial position – plant me right in the middle of it.
“All animals are equal,
but some animals are more equal than others”
Blue Dog State wrote an interesting (and frighteningly orwellian) post yesterday about a new cadre of armed animal rights activists volunteers organized by the Schenectady County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. From an article in the Schenectady Daily Gazette:
Peace officers have the legal authority to investigate animal abuse charges and make arrests. They can carry handguns and mace, wear body armor and charge violators with crimes ranging from violations to felonies, some punishable by up to four years in prison. They may only exercise their authority while on duty, though.
Unlike police agencies, the Schenectady SPCA would not be subject to governmental control, Tully said. But its peace officers must still receive training sanctioned by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, it must file financial reports with the IRS and it must file a charitable charter with the state Attorney General’s Office, he said.
What? Armed civilians roaming the streets with power to ‘enforce’ laws — but operating without government control and the constitutional protections afforded by such control (you know, that silly legislative – executive – judicial thing)? How does local law enforcement feel about this? Well, according to the Schenectady Daily Gazette, Schenectady County sheriff Buffardi said he will assist Tully any way he can.
“I am in favor of any law enforcement effort that supports animal rights and protects animals. Sometimes government does not put animals first, and it stands to reason a group like this would be helpful to us,” he said.
OK, I’m confused. Our government is supposed to put animals first? What happened to human rights? Apparently I skipped school the day that the amendment that provides animals equal rights under the law was covered in my civics class.
I was, however, there the day that they covered the 14th Amendment which states in part:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Due process of law. Now there’s an interesting concept. Due process of law refers to how and why laws are enforced and it applies to all persons, citizen or alien, as well as to corporations. Due process includes the right to a fair hearing. Since many SPCAs are operated by animal rights proponents, not only are many of their enforcement staff are not impartial, they have an unfortunately tendency to conduct search and seizure operations without a hearing or court order. But then — they see themselves as being more equal under the law than those annoying (and politically uncorrect) pet owners are.
These “officers” don’t have a job, they have an agenda.
“…they had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes.”
–George Orwell, Animal Farm