State v. Newcomb | Animal Legal & Historical Center

Summary: In this case, the Supreme Court of Oregon reviewed a case in which defendant accused the State of violating her constitutional rights by taking a blood sample of her dog without a warrant to do so. Ultimately, the court held that the defendant did not have a protected privacy interest in the dog’s blood and therefore the state did not violate defendant’s constitutional rights. Defendant’s dog, Juno, was seized by the Humane Society after a worker made a visit to plaintiff’s home and had probable cause to believe that Juno was emaciated from not receiving food from plaintiff. After Juno was seized and taken into custody for care, the veterinarian took a blood sample from Juno to confirm that there was no other medical reason as to why Juno was emaciated. Defendant argued that this blood test was a violation of her constitutional rights because the veterinarian did not have a warrant to perform the test. The court dismissed this argument and held that once Juno was taken into custody, defendant had “lost her rights of dominion and control over Juno, at least on a temporary basis.” Finally, the court held that because Juno was lawfully seized and Juno’s blood was “not ‘information’ that defendant placed in Juno for safekeeping or to conceal from view,” defendant’s constitutional rights had not been violated. 

In reaching that conclusion, the Court recognized that animals “are sentient beings capable of experiencing pain stress and fear” and that it indeed made a legal difference that the property seized was a living thing.

Documents: 

 State v Newcomb 2016.pdf (135.69 KB)

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