Juno helps change the rules

An emaciated dog named Juno, rescued by Oregon Humane Society six years ago, has helped achieve a major legal victory for animal advocates in Oregon. A June 16 ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court turned aside the owner’s attempt to suppress a blood sample taken by OHS. The owner argued that Juno was personal property and that OHS had no right to take Juno’s blood without first obtaining a search warrant.

In rejecting that argument, the Oregon Supreme Court cited Oregon’s strong laws mandating that owners provide animals with minimum care. When an animal is legally seized and there is probable cause to suspect abuse or neglect, said the court, authorities are within their rights to obtain a blood sample without a search warrant. Juno, who was significantly underweight when seized by OHS, went on to regain his health and was subsequently adopted. The owner was later convicted of neglect.

The case began when an OHS officer, responding to a report of neglect, seized Juno after observing the dog's poor physical condition. Juno was then taken to OHS, where an OHS veterinarian took a blood sample, which showed Juno's emaciated condition was due to underfeeding.

“This ruling removes what could have been a major roadblock to cruelty investigations,” said OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon. “We applaud the court for recognizing the special status of animals under Oregon law.”