Animal Law Review

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This Article presents empirical research to investigate the traditional practice of holding seized animal victims of maltreatment in protective custody until their disposition is resolved pursuant to a criminal proceeding. This is of particular concern because protective custody usually entails confinement in an animal shelter or similar institutional setting. Extended confinement under these circumstances is undesirable–especially when dealing with large numbers of animals–because such confinement causes stress that may inadvertently result in secondary victimization of the animals. Furthermore, institutional confinement poses substantial logistical challenges and imposes substantial economic costs for those tasked with caring for the animals. The impetus for this research is that in nearly half of US states, extended confinement is potentially avoidable, due to statutes which provide for a civil hearing that can lead to rehabilitation and potential rehoming of seized animals weeks, months, or even years before their release at the conclusion of criminal proceedings. Despite the prevalence of such statutes, it is unknown how often civil forfeiture is utilized in practice and whether its use is successful. Because of the lack of actual data, strategy was developed to search appeals of state-level convictions for animal mal- treatment. This Article argues that the most plausible reason for the dearth of cases containing Brady claims related to the unavailability of animals is that pre-conviction forfeiture is not being used as widely as it could in those states where that option is statutorily available.

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