Two recent Oregon Supreme Court rulings have afforded animals further protections, despite their classification as property under Oregon law. These rulings will allow law enforcement to provide more meaningful aid to animal victims and will allow the court system to levy stricter penalties for those found guilty of animal abuse or neglect. Together they strengthen the intervention and prosecution of animal crimes.
In State v. Arnold Nix, the Oregon Supreme Court held that animals could be victims – thus, rather than considering the starvation of twenty horses and goats into one count of second-degree animal neglect, the perpetrator would be charged with one count for each individual animal victim, or twenty counts of neglect. Naturally, allowing for the accused to be charged with twenty counts, as opposed to one, could result in significantly larger and longer punishments. Furthermore, inherent in this decision is the fact that “victim status” is afforded to more than just companion animals, as the animals in the case were horses and goats. Continue reading