Animals as Victims: Charging and the Law

Animals as Victims: Charging and the Law
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2020-02-18
Unit 1 Workbook: Animals As Victims. Charging and the Law
Unit 2 Slide Deck: Animals as Victims, Charging and the Law

Cases on animal cruelty or neglect can be difficult to investigate or prosecute. Lack of knowledge and education on statutes to use and procedures to do certainly makes these cases challenging.  Then there’s limited resources – manpower, expertise, facilities to execute a search and seizure, to investigate, to evaluate, house and care for the animals – that makes the task demanding logistically. Prosecution becomes problematic too when existing laws are vague or deficient to fully address the issue.

In this course, Jake Kamins explains Oregon’s animal cruelty laws – its history, application, developments, and challenges. James is the Animal Cruelty Deputy District Attorney in the State of Oregon where he prosecutes animal abuse and neglect cases. He also works alongside law enforcement, prosecutors and animal services providing assistance and training in these cases.

Specifics tackled in this session include:

  • A look into Oregon’s specialized Animal Cruelty Deputy District Attorney role.
  • Two critical cases with similar elements and almost overlapping timelines that paved the way to Oregon’s current animal law.
    • State v. Terrianne Hess, a neglect case that involved 45 cats that resulted in a conviction.
    • State v. Arnold Nix, that convicted Nix of 93 counts of misdemeanor animal neglect.
    • The cases’ defense attorneys’ motion to merge the multiple conviction into one single conviction.
    • The appeals made for each case and the different outcomes.
  • The legislation of Senate Bill 6 (SB6) which effected changes into how animal neglect and cruelty cases are handled which resulted in:
    • Establishing the concept of animals as victims.
    • Creating animal neglect felonies.
    • Increased penalties for animal cruelty felonies.
    • Initiating regulations for animal rescue entities.
    • Changing notification procedure for pre-trial forfeiture of animals.
    • Specific exceptions, exemptions, and points still up for clarification related to SB6.
  • Other developments related to SB6.
    • State v. Fessenden/Dicke: A case that laid out circumstances that allow exceptions to warrant requirements for animal neglect and cruelty cases.
    • The private nuisance statute that allows private citizens to bring a civil lawsuit for animal abuse/neglect which results in problems to their property.
    • Removal of an animal owner’s reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of an animal’s medical/health evaluation.
    • Hot cars legislation that upholds children’s and animals’ safety.
    • State v. Gensitskiy: An ongoing identity theft case that may impact animal cases as it debates the elevation of the charge to aggravated identity theft if committed against multiple individuals.
  • Ongoing issues related to animal neglect and cruelty.
    • The application of the increased penalties for animal crimes.
    • The lack of mandatory minimum animal offenses.
    • A loophole in the statutory possession ban such that Commercial Livestock Operators are not statutorily prohibited from possession of animals at first conviction.
    • How to ensure restitution for pain and suffering goes to the animal instead of the agency or person providing the care.
    • The need for more training and funding allocation for animal-related law enforcement.
  • Tips on how to better handle animal law cases through training.


You will learn:

  • How animals came to be “victims” in Oregon’s criminal justice system.
  • How the designation of animals as victims effects law enforcement and prosecutorial work on animal cruelty cases.
  • What issues remain undecided, and where legislatures and courts may go next in this area.



Handouts and Resources



Audience Comments

  • “Real case info and background, as well as personal input and experience from Jake.” — Cheryl
  • “It was great to hear of the success another state has had in evolving its legislation when it comes to animal welfare.” –Jaclyn
  • “Thank you, Jacob, for a very informative talk! I learned that animals are property but may not be legally considered a victim of a crime. Also, ALDF can be a knowledgeable resource. I look forward to future webinars!” — Kim
  • “It was an eye-opener from the case perspective.” — Frank



This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.




** This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care and Control Association and may be eligible for Continuing Education Units. Please consult your local certification processes for additional details. Current NACA Members who attend will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo.
Additional Resources
4 years ago
Thoughts about Animal Victims from Jake Kamins
Jake Kamins shared incredible insights during his webinar, Animals as Victims: Charing and the Law.. […]
4 years ago
After the Webinar: Animals as Victims – Charging and the Law. Q&A with Jake Kamins
Webinar presenter Jake Kamins answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Animals as […]
4 years ago
Animal Hoarding: What Criminal Justice Professionals Need to Know
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classifies hoarding as a disorder that req […]
4 years ago
What Dog Fighters Don’t Want You to Know: Considerations for the Justice Professional
Animal fighting is one of the most barbaric crimes out there. The scene and aftermath of such fights […]
5 years ago
Advanced Dog Fighting Investigations
Winning animal law cases rely heavily on evidence, so it is best to go all out on investigation to b […]
5 years ago
Animal Cruelty Investigations and Prosecutions
Animal cruelty is now recognized as a legitimate crime and has been gaining more and more support fr […]