Szewc and Updegraff argued they should be immune from this nuisance suit under an Oregon law that protects farmers from some private actions. The court disagreed. In 2015, a jury awarded the Kreins $238,900 in damages.
It was also ordered that any mastiffs on the property undergo a “total devocalization” within 60 days, with the same time frame applying to any new mastiffs joining the household.
Last Friday, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld this decision in a 14-page order that finds the lower court had authority to order the surgery, in addition to the cash award, because of the defendants’ “persistent failure to remedy the barking.” The decision makes no mention of issues relating to animal welfare.
One Last Chance to see us this weekend at the Grants Pass Christmas Bazaar…and yes I will have more sheep elves for you!! we are in the commons booth 7&8 my same space!!!!
Posted by Liongate Farm on Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Animal attorney Adam Karp, the author of “Understanding Animal Law,” says it is uncommon for courts to order dogs to undergo what he termed the “the ethically coarse” remedy of debarking.
“We are just shocked,” David Lytle, a spokesman for the Oregon Humane Society, said to The Oregonian. A couple of years ago, Lytle’s organization backed a ban on debarking in Oregon, but the measure did not pass.
So what happens now? Defendants Szewc and Updegraff declined The Dodo’s request for an interview. Szewc said to The Oregonian she and her husband have not yet decided if they’ll pursue further appeals.
She said the couple currently has six dogs — one of whom has already been debarked — and considers them to be “my employees.” Any further debarking surgery, she said, will affect the dogs’ ability to protect sheep.
“We do not have the dogs to harass the neighbors. We have the dogs to protect our sheep,” she said. “The next line of defense is a gun. I don’t need to use a gun if I can protect my sheep with dogs.”
The ALDF’s Rosengard points out that, if nothing else, at least the family has a humane option beyond surgically removing the dogs’ vocal cords — they can move them since the order applies only to dogs living on the property. And the case may even have a positive effect as well; nearly 60,000 people have signed an online petition asking for lawmakers to ban debarking since the Oregon court issued its decision.
“We hope the dogs find homes where they will be able to live out their lives without being subject to debarking or embroiled in human lawsuits,” Rosengard said. “More broadly, I hope that this case will inspire my fellow Oregonians to reconsider the need for legislation that would prohibit these convenience mutilations.”
Cosmic Scientist/Report a typo