Target: Thomas A. Balmer, Chief Justice, Oregon Supreme Court
Goal: Thank court for sending the message that animals are not property to use an abuse, and encourage them to consider the sentience of animals in future cases.
A landmark decision has been made by the Supreme Court of the state of Oregon regarding the treatment of animals. The case dealt specifically with one animal, a dog named Juno who was allegedly mistreated and starved by his owner, and later seized by law enforcement.
Juno’s sick and emaciated state required veterinarians to process his blood work to decide if he had been deliberately starved. In an effort to avoid ramifications for mistreating her dog, Juno’s owner argued that the dog was a piece of property and thus the blood draw was an “unreasonable search” of her property under Oregon law. While this rationale may sound farfetched, the dog’s owner was not too far off her mark. By law animals, even pets, are considered property of their guardians; in many cases no different than a laptop or a car.
However, thanks in part to the efforts of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the Court was persuaded away from seeing animals in this light while hearing the case. ALDF argued that animals should not be considered mere property, as it is clear they are sentient beings who experience emotions and pain. Juno was not just a piece of this woman’s property, but a thinking, feeling animal who had been horribly mistreated.
The Court’s decision to uphold charges against Juno’s owner is a win for not only this dog, but all animals. By refusing to reduce Juno to a mere “container to be searched,” the Court took a stand against animal cruelty and a progressive step towards a new legal distinction for animals. It’s high time the legal system recognize that animals are not ours to torment. Applaud the Court for making this landmark decision and encourage them to uphold it in future animal cruelty cases.
Dear Chief Justice Balmer,
I was shocked to hear about the case of Juno, a dog who had reportedly been abused and starved by his owner. Juno was so emaciated that he was seized by law enforcement and placed in veterinary care, where they drew his blood to determine why he was so thin. In an attempt to avoid cruelty charges for allegedly mistreating her dog, Juno’s owner insisted these tests were an “unlawful search” of her property, her property being Juno.
It comes as a shock to many to hear pets referred to as mere property. But in Oregon, as well as in the rest of the country and most of the world, animals are barely different from a car or table in the eyes of the law. There are very obvious ethical problems with classifying animals as property. Animals, especially intelligent sentient ones like cats and dogs, are thinking, feeling beings who experience pain and emotions.
Your decision to deny the owner’s argument and uphold cruelty charges for Juno sends a message that animals are not just pieces of mere property. I would like to thank you and the rest of the Supreme Court of Oregon for making this progressive decision, and encourage you to consider the sentience of animals in future cruelty cases.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures