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Oregon Ranks High for Animal Protection Laws

It isn't exactly a dog's life in Oregon, but the state has some of the best anti-cruelty statutes, says the Animal Legal Defense Fund. (MarcoMaru/morguefile)
It isn't exactly a dog's life in Oregon, but the state has some of the best anti-cruelty statutes, says the Animal Legal Defense Fund. (MarcoMaru/morguefile)
December 30, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon is a "top dog" for animal protection but could be doing better, according to a report that summarizes the 2015 animal welfare laws by state.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund ranks Oregon second only to Illinois for making cruelty, neglect and animal fighting all felony offenses.

However, some of Oregon's laws lack teeth, says Summer Marasco co-founder of the group Portland Animal Welfare Advocates (PAWA). She points out there are few requirements for reporting cruelty or sentencing those who have been convicted.

"The problem in the legal system in general is, if it's not mandatory, and it's always case by case, it's always more difficult," says Marasco. "Because then, it really depends on how much press or media a certain case gets that the prosecution will take it further."

Marasco says a bill to end the controversial practice of retail pet-leasing might resurface in the 2016 Legislature after not gaining traction last year. She adds, Oregon's animal-cruelty laws apply mostly to companion animals, and says more could be done for livestock.

Staff attorney Lora Dunn with the Animal Legal Defense Fund says another step Oregon could take is to require the agencies that seize animals in these cases to recover the money it takes to treat them.

"It's really important in these cases to get some of those costs of care that really rack up to be really exorbitant amounts, to get those costs back to the care-giving agencies, so they can continue to help other animals in need," says Dunn.

Other ideas listed in the report as potential improvements include adding abandonment and sexual assault as felonies, creating an animal-abuser registry, and mandatory reporting of suspected animal abuse by veterinarians and other agencies.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR