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Evidence from Warrantless Search of Pet Shop Allowed to Convict for Animal Cruelty
Description Appeals court upheld the conviction of a pet store operator who was convicted of animal abuse based on evidence collected in a warrantless search of his store, which was entered when inspectors could see distressed and dead animals through the window of the locked shop.
Topic Criminal Law
Key Words Warrantless Entry; Property; Animal Protection
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A complaint was received by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) that a pet store was not caring properly for its animals. An ASPCA officer looked in the window of the store and could see dead animals and dogs barking "plaintively." The locked store was entered without permission to rescue the animals. Based on information given to the state, Rogers was charged with numerous counts of animal mistreatment and was convicted on four counts of abandoning animals. He appealed his conviction, arguing that ASPCA agents unlawfully entered into his pet store without a warrant, so that the basis of the conviction was illegal.
Decision Conviction affirmed. "A warrantless search may be conducted under the emergency doctrine, where there is a 'substantial threat of imminent danger to either life, health, or property.' Since the protection of property is encompassed in the doctrine, this court finds no reason not to include therein the protection of animals which constitute property."
Citation People v. Rogers, 708 N.Y.S.2d 795 (Sup. Ct., App. Term, N.Y., 2000)

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