Oregon Supreme Court Recognizes that Animals Can Be Individual Crime Victims

In 2009, police in Umatilla, Oregon, arrested a man for starving and neglecting dozens of animals. A jury convicted the man of 20 counts of second-degree animal abuse, but at his sentencing hearing the court merged the 20 counts into a single conviction because, according to the court, animals are not victims under the law. The defendant, thus, was given a mere 90 days in jail and three years of probation for his “one” offense.

Thankfully, the state appealed the decision, and the appeals court found that, for purposes of this law, each animal was a separate crime victim. In August 2014, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed this decision. It is now official: animals can have individualized identities under the law, at least in Oregon.