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Oregon’s District Attorneys Receive Grant to Help Prosecute Animal Cruelty Cases

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Oregon’s District Attorneys Receive Grant to Help Prosecute Animal Cruelty Cases

From Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)
March 2013

"This new statewide prosecutor will handle every type of animal cruelty case—from juvenile offenders who kill a neighbor's cat to organized dogfighting rings and subsequent racketeering prosecutions," said John Haroldson. "There is now no reason why any viable animal cruelty case should go unprosecuted in Oregon."

In a move that benefits Oregon's animals and 36 elected District Attorneys, Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson has secured a three-year grant from the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) to fund a full-time prosecutor, whose sole responsibility is to litigate animal cruelty cases. The Benton County DA, in Corvallis, Oregon, will provide the home base, and serve as the fiscal agent, for this project. Once retained, the dedicated animal cruelty prosecutor will be eligible for appointment as a special Deputy District Attorney by any elected District Attorney who needs an animal cruelty case handled; there will be no charge for this service, as the attorney's time will be covered by the award. Haroldson said he will have the position filled by the end of April.

For the majority of Oregon's District Attorneys, budgets have been cut to the point that animal cruelty cases are simply not getting to court. Furlough days, reduced court hours, and cuts in corrections spending have compromised the justice system. The Oregon Legislature has repeatedly and consistently articulated a strong public policy favoring the aggressive prosecution of animal cruelty cases by enacting statutes requiring police officers to make arrests in cases of animal abuse and to pay for and provide care to victim animals, as well as requiring veterinarians to report aggravated animal abuse.

"This new statewide prosecutor will handle every type of animal cruelty case—from juvenile offenders who kill a neighbor's cat to organized dogfighting rings and subsequent racketeering prosecutions," said John Haroldson. "There is now no reason why any viable animal cruelty case should go unprosecuted in Oregon."

"When we began this process, I had one goal in mind—to ensure that animal cruelty cases are not among the growing list of crimes that go unprosecuted in Oregon," said Scott Heiser, a former elected Oregon prosecutor and current director of ALDF's Criminal Justice Program. "This grant is a huge step forward in Oregon and this project will serve as a model to implement in other states."