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Old 06-12-2010, 02:17 PM
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Default Court Upholds Police Entry For Crying Dogs

Court Ruling Upholds Police Entry for Crying Dog | Animals | Change.org

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Last week, California's Second District Court of Appeals ruled that police can enter a home without a warrant if they hear a dog in distress. The Fourth Amendment, which protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures, does have exceptions if the police have good reason to search, typically when they believe lives are in danger. In the past, that meant human lives, but according to The People v. Keith Chung (pdf), it applies to pets, too.

Chung's downstairs neighbor, Jennifer Lee, was awoken one night by loud banging and the sounds of an animal in pain coming from Chung's condo. It wasn't the first time she'd heard disturbing noises like this, but it seemed particularly bad this time, so she called 911. When the officers knocked on Chung's door, he claimed he didn't own any dogs, but as they were talking, the officers heard a dog whimpering inside. Fearing that an animal was in danger, they entered without a warrant. Chung wanted to suppress the evidence of what they found, saying their entry violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

What police found in Chung's condo was a dead dog in the freezer, a dog on the patio so badly injured that he had to be euthanized later that morning, and a glass pipe on the kitchen counter "which appeared to contain the residue of some sort of illegal drug."

There are a lot of good things about this ruling. Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein wrote, "the protection of animals has long been recognized as an appropriate governmental concern." This ruling literally means that cruelty taking place behind closed doors will not be tolerated.

This is also victory for changing the definition of animals as property. As I've written before, the "owner vs. guardian" debate can get pretty sticky, but there's little question that animals aren't the type of property that people have the "right" to destroy. By allowing animals in distress as an exception to the Fourth Amendment, animals are acknowledged as living, feeling beings who deserve protection.

But I'm hesitant to declare this ruling a total win for animals.

To enter a home, the officers have to show that they "reasonably believe[d] immediate warrantless entry into a residence is required to aid a live animal in distress." In Chung's situation, the ongoing concern from the neighbor and the fact that he lied to police at the door were pretty good reasons to raise suspicion. But whenever the "exigent circumstances" clause of the Fourth Amendment is invoked, it can get into "he said, she said" territory over whether the police really had enough reason to enter.

There are often problems between neighbors when it comes to barking dogs, and repeated complaints can lead to a visit from the local police. What about dogs with separation anxiety? They often vocalize like the world's coming to end. And let's face it police, in general, aren't great when it comes to understanding the canine species.

While there's great potential in this ruling to save abused animals, there's also a real risk here that normal dog vocalizations can be used as a reason to enter a home. For some people, that can lead to illegal search and seizure of drugs or other evidence.

Maybe you're of the opinion that it serves someone right for doing or possessing something illegal. But would you want the police barging into your house uninvited? Other than the invasion of privacy, there's a danger to your animals. If you have cats or uncrated dogs, they may escape. If, like me, you have pit bulls and other large dogs, your dog may get shot.

As long as there's this epidemic lack of understanding of canine behavior by police departments, pet owners or guardians can't afford for officers to make the wrong call, even if it's for the right reasons, in entering a home without a warrant.

I hope this ruling is used to protect animals from cruelty, but I hope it's used with care.
Uh...am I the only one who is scared sh*tless by what this could/probably does means?
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Old 06-12-2010, 02:19 PM
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I do not like this
"I heard the dog barking so I went in and then the pitbull looked mean and wanted to bite me, so I had to shoot him". I can see this happening, oh yes
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Old 06-12-2010, 02:42 PM
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I'm glad they were able to give that beaten dog on the porch a humane end, but as a whole I don't see this ruling as a good thing, not at all!!
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Old 06-12-2010, 04:30 PM
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This is scary. Talk about unintended consequences.
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Old 06-12-2010, 05:50 PM
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Ok so say my neighbor calls the cops because my dogs whining (as they frequently do if I leave them outside while I'm cleaning) John Q Law shows up and hears the dogs whining in the background because I've locked them outside (or crated and unhappy about life in the crate)...so he can just waltz in my house? I don't think this is cool at all.
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Old 06-12-2010, 05:57 PM
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sounds terrifying, doesn't it?
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Old 06-15-2010, 01:35 AM
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Heck Sci makes noises where you think we were killing him just because hes in his crate, we grab his collar, we look at him wrong. All perfectly normal things pet owners do. SO because the cop doesnt know that greys are drama queens and sensitive as hell they can come in storm my house which Walker would defend and then consiquently most likely get shot.

YEAH how bout NOT.
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Old 06-15-2010, 09:19 AM
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I've got news for you. They're not considering this for the purpose of protecting animals. They're doing this to further their agenda of stripping us of our constitutional rights...to rip apart the constitution, one piece at a time and reduce us further to little ants that they control completely.

If they want to put an end to animal cruelty, then why haven't they taken a much stronger stance on punishing the perpetrators. Maybe if they make it a real offense, like murdering humans is "suppose" to be, and locking these creeps up for life.... that would deter more sickos from hurting animals.

Spread the word to not be fooled by their supposed reasons for their nazi-like policies!
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Old 06-15-2010, 10:19 AM
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I think it's good. You're going to save a lot more animals than not. The vast majority of police officers are logical people. Yes, there are a couple crazies--but 99% of them aren't going to break down your door because they see you grabbing a dog's collar. That's a stretch.

The vast majority of neighbors aren't going to be calling the cops because they hear a dog barking either. This is more than that. My neighbor's dog whined all day--I never thought abuse, nor did the other dozen people who lived in our apartment building. I've had fosters who screamed bloody murder in the middle of the night because of separation anxiety (and I lived in an apartment with thin walls, poor neighbors). They didn't call the cops because I HAD TALKED TO THEM. I had a relationship with them. I asked them to come to me first if they had a problem, and I would deal with it. This was a case of BANGING PIPES. It's more than a crate, or separation anxiety.

Yes, a few innocent people are going to be embarrassed or inconvenienced. A heck of a lot more horrible people are going to be caught. I agree that the punishments need to be increased for those people, but this is a start.

I don't buy into the "1984-the-government-is-trying-to-suppress-us" ideas though...

(okay, flame away--I get too emotional in these debates, so I'm going to stay out of it. I just wanted to say my piece)
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Old 06-15-2010, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
I don't buy into the "1984-the-government-is-trying-to-suppress-us" ideas though...
Do you read the newspapers? Even the liberal ones? Our own president is disregarding the constitution in many, many ways, breaking laws and disregarding the peoples' wishes. I don't know when you will buy into it or what it will take. If you don't see what's happening, it's because you're being desensatized to your loss of rights and freedom.

It's a sad state of affairs that the country is becoming a police state where they can bust down peoples' doors and stomp all over their rights, shoot their dogs, their kids and do whatever they like... and to not even be required to have a search warrant! Probable cause: What a subjective thing that will become in cases like these.

Like I said, punish the criminals, not ordinary citizens who may have a dog that makes horrible sounds, but isn't being abused at all. You'll have police breaking into peoples' houses under the guise of all kinds of things. This law will evolve into other "reasons" and those will evolve into still other "excuses" to break down peoples' door. Most police are "logical" people? Not getting that from a multitude of news stories lately. And besides that, it's not just the police. It's what's behind them...who's backing them.
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