Oregon

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State v. Griffin


Appeal of a conviction in district court for cruelty to animals.  Defendant was convicted of cruelty to animals after having been found to have recklessly caused and allowed his dog to kill two cats, and he appealed. The Court of Appeals held that forfeiture of defendant's dog was an impermissible condition of probation.

State v. Gruntz


Defendant moved to suppress evidence after being charged with multiple counts of animal neglect. The Court of Appeals held that the warrant affidavit permitted reasonable inference that neglect continued to exist at time of warrant application. The warrant affiant stated her observations four months prior to the warrant application that horses appeared to be malnourished and severely underweight.

State v. Hackett Defendant was convicted of second-degree animal abuse, among other crimes. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred when it denied his motion for judgment of acquittal (MJOA) and imposed fines (in addition to incarceration) without first determining his ability to pay. The conviction was supported by testimony at trial from two witnesses, a mother and her daughter. The daughter was visiting her mother and heard a dog "yike" in pain outside while she was at her mother's house. She thought a dog may have been hit by a car, so she went outside where she observed defendant and his dog Bosco. The dog was whimpering and laying in submission as the defendant hit the dog. Then, after going inside briefly to call police, the witness returned outside to see defendant was "just going to town and beating the dog" and throwing rocks at the dog to the point where the witness was concerned for the dog's life. On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred on the second-degree animal abuse charge because the evidence did not permit a rational inference that Bosco experienced "substantial pain" as required by the statute. The court, in a matter of first impression, examined whether Bosco experienced substantial pain. Both the state and defendant acknowledged that appellate courts have not yet interpreted the meaning of "substantial pain" for animal victims, so both parties rely on cases involving human victims. Defendant suggests that Bosco did not experience a significant duration of pain to permit a finding of substantial pain. The court disagreed, analogizing with cases where a human victim could not testify concerning the pain. Thus, the court concluded that the evidence supported a reasonable inference that Bosco's pain was not "fleeting" or "momentary." Not only did the witnesses see the defendant kick and pelt the dog with rocks, but one witness left to phone police and returned to find the defendant still abusing the dog. As to the fines, the court found that the trial court did err in ordering payment of fines within 30-days without making an assessment of defendant's ability to pay. Thus, the the trial court did not err in denying defendant's MJOA, but the matter was remanded for entry of judgment that omitted the "due in 30 days" for the fines.
State v. Hartrampf


Defendant appealed a conviction for attempted involvement in animal fighting, arguing that the statutes at issue were unconstitutionally vague.  Since the defendant admitted he knowingly was among spectators at farm hosting a cockfighting event, the Court of Appeals held that a person of common intelligence could discern that defendant's conduct constituted a substantial step toward involvement in animal fighting.

State v. Hershey In this Oregon case, defendant appeals his conviction of first-degree animal neglect. Specifically, defendant argues the denial of his motion to suppress evidence was erroneous. The evidence was obtained when the local sheriff (Glerup) entered defendant's property to administer emergency aid to defendant's cattle. During testimony in the motion to suppress, Glerup testified that he first received a call from defendant's neighbors who reported that the cattle appeared to be "starving." That neighbor even called defendant, who assured her that the cattle "were okay" and being cared for by a hired person. Sheriff Glerup called that individual who stated he had not been hired and defendant had been gone a week. The sheriff subsequently received a call that the cattle were in need of immediate aid and in poor condition. These conditions prompted the warrantless search. On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erroneously denied his motion to suppress where the state failed to establish that the warrantless entry was justified under an exception to the warrant requirement. In doing so, defendant contends that the case establishing that the emergency aid doctrine applies to animals (Fessenden) was wrongly decided. This argument was dispensed by the court because it was not properly preserved at trial. Alternatively, defendant argues that the state failed to satisfy the requirements for the emergency aid exception. In reviewing defendant's claim, the court noted that in Fessenden, the emergency aid doctrine justifies warrantless activity, “when law enforcement officers have an objectively reasonable belief, based on articulable facts, that the search or seizure is necessary to render immediate aid or assistance to animals . . ." In this case, the court found that the officer's belief that immediate aid was necessary where the cattle appeared to be "near death" was reasonable. Thus, the trial court did not err when it denied defendant's motion to suppress; defendant's conviction was affirmed.
State v. Johnson


A defendant was convicted in district court of violating a city ordinance by keeping a vicious dog.  The Court of Appeals held that the word "trespasser" in the city ordinance was to be used in its ordinary context, that a child who rode his bicycle onto the defendant's driveway was a trespasser, that there were no issues of consent involved, and that the trespasser exception applied even to areas on the defendant's property where the dog was not under the owner's control.

State v. Kelso


Appeal from a district court decision relating to mental state requirements of an animal owner.  The Court of Appeals reversed a district court finding which required a higher mental state than negligence in violation of a statute which provides that the owner or custodian of an animal or livestock shall not "permit" animal to run at large. The Court of Appeals found that the offense does not require a culpable mental state.

State v. Newcomb
State v. Nix In this criminal case, defendant was found guilty of 20 counts of second-degree animal neglect. Oregon's “anti-merger” statute provides that, when the same conduct or criminal episode violates only one statute, but involves more than one “victim,” there are “as many separately punishable offenses as there are victims.” The issue in this case is whether defendant is guilty of 20 separately punishable offenses, which turns on the question whether animals are “victims” for the purposes of the anti-merger statute. The trial court concluded that, because only people can be victims within the meaning of that statute, defendant had committed only one punishable offense. The court merged the 20 counts into a single conviction for second-degree animal neglect. On appeal, the Court of Appeals concluded that animals can be victims within the meaning of the anti-merger statute and, accordingly, reversed and remanded for entry of a judgment of conviction on each of the 20 counts and for resentencing. The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals and affirmed. Thus, in Oregon, for the purposes of the anti-merger statute, an animal, rather than the public or an animal owner, is a “victim” of crime of second-degree animal neglect.
State v. Nix

Upon receiving a tip that animals were being neglected, police entered a farm and discovered several emaciated animals, as well as many rotting animal carcasses. After a jury found the defendant guilty of 20 counts of second degree animal neglect, the district court, at the sentencing hearing, only issued a single conviction towards the defendant. The state appealed and argued the court should have imposed 20 separate convictions based on its interpretation of the word "victims" in ORS 161.067(2). The appeals court agreed. The case was remanded for entry of separate convictions on each guilty verdict. 

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