DEAR READERS: The fundamental problem in seeking justice for animals is that our laws view them as mere "property." The nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund has been working to change that. The Oregon Supreme Court just issued a landmark ruling in State v. Newcomb that will give animals more of the protections they deserve.
It all started with Juno, an emaciated dog seized by law enforcement. Once seized, Juno received routine veterinary care, which included drawing his blood for tests. However, Juno's owner argued that because Juno is his property, the blood draw should be considered a "search" under the Oregon Constitution and Fourth Amendment, which prohibit unreasonable searches.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund fought back, filing an amicus ("friend of the court") brief urging the court to consider that animals are "sentient beings capable of experiencing pain, stress and fear," according to legislation the nonprofit helped enact in the state in 2013. The court rejected the owner's argument. In a win for all animals, the court emphasized that sentience matters in cases like these, and this dog should not be considered a mere object. The purpose of a blood test is medical diagnosis and treatment, and now investigators in Oregon do not have to go through the long process of securing a separate warrant before a veterinarian can treat an abused or neglected animal who has been lawfully seized as part of a cruelty investigation.
For more information about the Animal Legal Defense Fund and how you can support it and the animals it defends, visit aldf.org.
DEAR DR. FOX: I had a similar experience to many of your readers with a vet regarding Frontline. My dog would significantly react for a day or two after administration of this product, hardly moving and drooling. When I told my vet about this as it related to this product, he said that it was not possible.
My previous dog died at the age of 8 from a cancerous tumor that formed near the site of Frontline administration. After the second dog reacted badly to this medicine, I stopped using it. I am not a fan. -- L.L., Berryville, California
DEAR L.L.: Every summer, I receive letters like yours concerning the adverse effects of some anti-flea products. There are several safer and more effective anti-flea products and preventive steps to take to deal with these nasty external parasites, which you can read about on my website, DrFoxVet.net. Avoid over-the-counter insecticidal products without consultation with a veterinarian who should do more than sell you a product.
MEDALS OF COURAGE FOR DOGS
In July on Capitol Hill, four dogs received the K-9 Medal of Courage for their military heroism. Matty, Fieldy, Bond and Isky all received the nation's highest military honor for dogs due to their bravery in war zones, where they detected explosives and provided protection and comfort.
Perhaps next year there will be some police dogs given this medal after being shot and stabbed in the course of doing their service. Better still, in the War Memorial area near Capitol Hill, it is surely time to put up an epitaph in commemoration of all the various kinds of animals who have served in times of war: horses (in the millions), mules, dogs, pigeons, pigs, dolphins and elephants. And near the National Institutes of Health, another memorial is overdue for all the chimpanzees, monkeys, cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, rats, rodents and other creatures, many of whom children keep as pets, who have variously suffered and died to help find cures for the diseases of civilization.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.net.)