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Ask Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to Veto Senate Bill 6: Reject warrantless searches of Oregon rescues

This petition had 1,105 supporters

July 22, 2013 Update: Sharon Harmon, Executive Director, Oregon Humane Society, submitted the following testimonial in support of Senate Bill 6’s attack on small animal rescue groups on March 25, 2013:

“Section 9 and 10: Animal Rescue Licensing and Oversight

In the last decade there has been a tremendous increase in the underground pet railroad. There are thousands of animals moving through these nontraditional groups in Oregon. The public never gets to visit and without public funding there is no accountability--- these rescues fly under the radar in every sense. For some it is a profit driven practice, dogs go for upwards of $400 and in many cases well funded groups in other states pay for the transport to Oregon, the individuals running these rescues get a large pay off for little expense.  It is a cash business; the transaction mirrors that of the drug trade with purchasers meeting dealers in parking lots or the mall. There is a place for specialty rescues that do amazing things and save lives that traditional shelters cannot. Some of those groups spend thousands of dollars on each dog and provide superior care, but more and more “rescues” eventually get lost, can’t pay the bills, can’t come to terms with the fact that it is impossible to save every at risk animal. When these underground rescues start to struggle with those realities is when they often turn to denial and secrecy. The phenomenon of animal rescue turned rescue hoarder is not too far down the continuum for many of these groups.

The drive to be “no kill” and the nearly fanatical adherence to the strictest interpretation of the

phrase leads some people to believe any life is better than death, even if that means a slow and painful “natural” death through starvation, neglect, untreated injuries and disease. That is what we saw in Brooks. We have a chance to regulate them now and we should take that opportunity before it happens again, because it will.

We urge you to vote yes on SB 6.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sharon Harmon “       


Sharon Harmon’s shameless fictional account to the Oregon Legislature about the operating procedures and character of Oregon’s small independent rescues---testimony submitted to force through a state bill requiring mandatory licensing, surveillance and warrantless searches of the property, often private homes, of small rescues--- is itself criminal. Ms. Harmon begins by exploiting the isolated Alicia Inglish case in Brooks, a case involving criminality, not rescue, a case in which the Oregon Humane Society and local enforcement delayed timely response. They knew about the deplorable conditions at Alicia Inglish’s warehouse and had prior records of complaints. Those failures should be investigated, not exploited for political gain.

The manipulations, false analogies and fictional assumptions in Ms. Harmon’s “report” on Oregon’s rescues are woven to deceive and to buttress the false political agenda that rescues must be micro-managed to prevent criminality.

“The underground pet railroad:” OHS itself takes hundreds of homeless animals from California every week through the same regulated procedures as do Oregon’s small rescues. The tremendous increase in transported numbers is due to California’s Hayden’s Law, a companion animal protection law that requires California animal control agencies to release animals they do not want to rescue groups. Hence more animals are available to rescue. Each Oregon rescue taking an animal from California must conform to the comprehensive requirements of the 501(c) (3) California rescues and in turn the California animal control agencies. It is a highly regulated and routinely inspected process. Companion animals are not trucked up to alleys and streets for shadowy “deals” and distribution. Most rescues pay for the privilege of saving lives. The Oregon rescue is responsible for all fees: pull fees, vetting costs, boarding fees, short distance transport fees and long distance transport fees. In sum, each dog from California may cost from $300 to $500 before arrival and before rehabilitation and behavior training costs are added. From time to time a rescue will receive a donation to assist  with special needs animal care costs but to construe this as” profiting” from rescue is dishonest.

“Meeting in parking lots and malls:” There are destination transport points for out of state or out of area rescues. They are in the open; nothing is hidden. The equation of rescuing from out of state with parking lot drug deals is the sign of a wicked overactive imagination.

“Making money from rescue animals:” The independent small Oregon rescues I know make no money at all. We do not even cover costs. Our animals are the ones discarded by corporate humane societies and large animal control agencies.  The standards for adoptability at these agencies exclude all but the “perfect.” As an example, the Oregon Humane Society only takes owner surrendered animals and some transfers from elsewhere but they must “pass” a series of tests for: health, temperament, age, overall condition.” If “failed” they are referred to public animal control agencies or to the small rescues described as needing surveillance in OHS’s testimony. It is not that OHS and traditional shelters  “can’t” take the less than perfect. They won’t. And Oregon’s small rescues then step up to the plate and make a remarkable difference in saving lives. If any organization makes money from rescue it is OHS.

Adoption Fees: The statement “ is a profit driven business, dogs go upwards to $400,”is true of many large humane societies and organizations but false about small independent rescues. Most rescues barely cover costs.  But OHS for example charges $400 and upward for rescue animals because of their entry standards ensure that they are “perfectly” adoptable.

“No kill is a sure and slippery slope to hoarding:” Hoarding is a psychiatric illness. Hoarders do for the most part operate in secrecy. It is part of the illness symptomology and will not be “cured” by levying harsh fines. No kill rescues almost uniformly succeed with challenging cases that corporate humane societies and large shelters reject as “unadoptable” and do so without the same level of funding. We commonly eat Top Ramen every day. The well funded agencies and shelters do not share or offer funding. They take the least challenging and easiest cases and leave the rest to rescues to redeem and heal out of compassion and with modest resources. Do some become overwhelmed from time to time? Yes, a few do. But not because they are hoarders, more often, it is a life tragedy, the death or illness of a partner that forces them to reach out for help. The severe punishments included in SB 6 will end the seeking of help. We are differently motivated. Unlike the large corporate entities we view companion animals as sentient beings worthy of our respect and effort even when less than “perfect”, not animal products with an expiry date. To the larger and wealthier animal protection organizations, it is about the money. Funding isn’t shared. Ms. Harmon’s diatribe is a deliberate and politically motivated caricature of No kill, one designed to make the false point that those who support humane options also support needless suffering. We reject needless killing. Most animals aren’t “perfect.” Why should we have a double standard for the value of life?   

“We have a chance to regulate them now “  is  a display of overt disrespect and contempt by OHS, HSUS and other SB 6 sponsors for the life saving work of Oregon’s  independent  small rescue, the entities they call when they don’t want the animals in their care: too old, disabled, poor attitude. It is they who need to be regulated.

The passage of SB 6 has caused many independent rescues to close their doors. This will cost hundreds of needy animals life saving options. The reason most frequently given is the disrespect shown to our efforts and because, as was stated in one letter opposing SB 6, “it is a fact that truly commercial entities ---the ones for which profits preclude the need for donations-- -are not subject to warrantless inspections while those individuals who don’t seek to make a dime from their services do face intrusions onto their private property and into their records.” That is what we protest. When did those who rescue become a class without rights simply because we rescue? How can this be tolerated in our state?

Our communal silence does not mean we are not working on the serious political implications of these concerns. It only means we are out busy rescuing, our first priority, and planning to challenge this bill. We challenge entitled humane societies, animal control agencies, and Oregon’s legislature to amend Senate Bill 6 by removing sections 10 and 11 (originally titled 9 and 10) or abolish this poorly drafted bill altogether. Thank you for your support and your support of Oregon’s independent rescues.

PLEASE CALL THE OREGON GOVERNOR TODAY AND ASK THAT HE VETO SB 6 - This bill will adversely impact animal rescue groups and there was NO opportunity for input from the Oregon rescue community. Oregon Humane Society rammed this Bill through, misrepresenting the rescue community, citing Alicia Inglish as the justification. You can read about the Bill at the "OLIS" web address below - click on history and status to see that the Bill is at the Governor's Desk, Awaiting Signature. PLEASE CALL AND SPREAD THE WORD TO CALL TO SEEK VETO OF THIS BILL! Time is of the essence. NO e-mails - CALL or WRITE.


Governor's Citizens' Representative Office
(503) 378-4582


Governor Kitzhaber
Attn: Citizens' Representative
160 State Capitol
900 Court Street
Salem, Oregon 97301-4047

Please call today and ask others to call to ask Gov. to veto. VERY important!

The passage of SB will have a demoralizing major effect:  more homeless companion animal losses/deaths in Oregon.   The Oregon House of Representatives passed SB 6 today by an unknown number of votes.  The sponsors of the bill, OHS, HSUS, other corporate humane societies and government animal control agencies strong armed SB bill through to increase their unfettered  power and authority over small independent  rescues on the demonstrably false pretext that an isolated case of abuse in Brooks, Oregon, the Alicia Inglish case, was committed by a rescue group and, therefore, all rescue groups are potentially “suspect” and must be licensed and subject to warrantless searches. The sophistry used by the sponsors and the easily misled legislature with this simplistic embarrassing analogy offends everyone who has ever rescued even one animal.   

Ms. Inglish was not a rescue by any common definition of the term but an individual with a long criminal history.  The legislature knows that. And the needed enforcement tools were available. They simply were not utilized properly despite timely complaints because enforcement places a low priority on animal abuse cases.  By using this case, the sponsors created legislative hysteria, a common tactic, and cost others their civil rights.

The excuse that transfer of unfettered absolute power to county enforcement agencies, is needed on an “emergency” basis while the legislators “rest” for the season is a shocking display of ignorance and grand indifference that is impossible to respect. Not having permitted any independent small rescues to participate in the drafting of this bill the legislators have no information or knowledge about how often animal control agencies and corporate humane societies abuse and exceed their power and authority.  It happens every day. The legislators and sponsors of SB 6 have now just enhanced the probability of the abuses towards citizens and small rescues. Documented examples from the most populated Oregon county include extortions of consent to euthanasia; retaliations for reporting officer misconduct, and the use of fear, threats and intimidation against vulnerable citizens. That is what has been unleashed by those who want unrestricted power without regulation.

The effect will be that rather than submit to the tyranny of those now granted unfettered power,  who are often those who abuse power themselves, rescues will close their doors and needy deserving companion animals will die for lack of resources. The majority of animal control agencies and corporate humane societies already reject all but the “perfect” companion animals.  It is the small independent rescues who pick up the pieces and take the unwanted animals they discard, saving their lives at all cost and then find them permanent homes. That is who this legislation has hurt. Options for thousands of “less than perfect” companion animals will be gone now. Independent small rescues can only take so much abuse before giving up. That is what is happening now.

This petition site will remain active and “up” just like the bear pictured until we find a way to take our power back.  

July 06, 2013 Update: Senate bill 6 is scheduled to be voted upon at 3:00 PM today, July 6 in the House of Representatives. The Oregon legislature declined to remove sections 10 and 11 whose terms egregiously affect the civil rights and lives of Oregon’s independent small rescues. Call your representative and voice your opposition.  

How to find your representative:

IMPORTANT: The sponsors once again have responded to objections about SB 6 with “spin” not substance. The self serving deceptive new “spin” that SB 6 will only affect “bad” rescues is deliberately intended to deflect attention away from the fact that all rescues under this bill are potentially subject to warrantless searches. When enforcement entities including unregulated self appointed humane societies and government animal control agencies “decide” who is “good/real” and who is “bad/fake” who governs their behavior? No one.  The potential for civil rights violations and abuse is extraordinary.  Why should citizens give corporate humane societies and government animal control agencies the right to void citizens’ constitutional rights at their discretion?  And, of course, any “bad rescues” –ones who will certainly not consent to inspections -- ultimately charged with abuse or neglect will be the ones who will benefit from SB 6’s unlawful search provisions because all evidence discovered during those searches will be inadmissible in the trials.

Mounting Public Opposition to SB 6: Recent opposition to SB 6 comes directly from the animal welfare/advocacy community itself, alerted to Senate bill 6 only last week. The late notice is due to the singular fact that the primary stakeholders affected by this bill were not included in its drafting and were deliberately kept out and in the dark by the bill’s sponsors.   

The “problem” is constitutionality. Under the guise of providing modest accountability, Sections 10 and 11 of Senate Bill 6 grant unfettered police powers to enforcement agencies to search and inspect the private property of rescues, often their homes and homes of foster families, without the need to show probable cause. That is very likely unconstitutional. One does not “pass” an unconstitutional bill and “fix” constitutionality after the fact.  

The Real Problem: Existing laws deal effectively with animal abuse and neglect. Failure to vigorously enforce existing animal abuse and neglect laws comes from the fact that most enforcement agencies grant low priority to animal protection. The low priority granted by enforcement agencies charged with implementing existing laws cannot be corrected by passage of another law granting current enforcement agencies greater unfettered police powers and “deputizing” large corporate humane societies and government animal control agencies, giving the sponsors of this bill unregulated power over small rescues. Who monitors their behavior? No one.

July 04, 2013 Update
: Senate Bill 6 was approved and voted out of the House of Representatives Rules Committee with one “no” vote from Representative Wally Hicks, Klamath Falls.

On Saturday, July 6 the entire House of Representatives will vote on SB 6. A legislative opinion has been requested by some of the representatives about the constitutionality of the provision for warrantless searches of small rescues, often their private homes and private foster homes, one of many serious flaws in the current bill.

Sponsors have rallied support for a “Yes on SB 6” by brushing off concerns about constitutionality stating that all “fixes” can be made after the bill’s passage. The time to make corrections is before passage not after. Why pass a likely unconstitutional bill except to override and bury concerns about likely civil rights violations?

What you can do: A Call for Action

How to find your representative:

We encourage everyone to call, call, call your own representative now.  It takes less than a minute.  You will not get to speak to the representative but an aide -- all you have to say is," Hi, this is Joe Brown and I live at______ which is in Representative Smith's district.   I'd like Representative Smith to vote NO on SB-6.  From what I have studied and read the bill has serious flaws and needs more work ( including concerns about constitutionality or other example but brief)  and is not ready for passage; "  That's it -- no big long speeches -- just a 45 second call asking for a NO vote.

Then call friends who will also call.  The one factor that can neutralize powerful influential groups like HSUS, OHS, etc. (branding)  and even lobbyists is public opinion because THAT is what gets  lawmakers re-elected .-- not national power groups, local  rescues or shelters -- not high priced lobbyists -- no -- the public.  A nationally recognized political consultant was once asked at a political action seminar "How do we beat the big lobby money these companies pour into legislator's campaign coffers?  He responded -- by your vote and the possibility it isn't there.  Donations of any size mean nothing if the votes aren't there -- a politician will protect the votes he or she needs long before and after she'll protect a donation."

The moral of the story is -- call call  call -- have your spouse call, your kids, anyone you can get to do the same -- it takes only 15, 20 calls to a legislator for them to realize this is a serious public concern because they know most people never bother to call.

The political consultant reported an example: “I was waiting to see a senator one day and heard the secretary's phone ring -- she answered "OK, I'll pass it on."  and hung up -- it rang again and she did the same thing -- call after call.  I finally got up and asked what was going on with all the calls -- she said it was a hot school issue and people were calling in against it.  I asked if the bill would pass.  She said "Are you kidding -- it hasn't a chance in hell with so many people against it."  Case closed.”

July 03, 2013 Update: Small animal rescues in Oregon, the primary stakeholders affected by Sections 10 and 11 of Senate Bill 6, were not allowed a voice in this legislation by the bill’s main sponsors OHS and HSUS.  When we asked for input we were told we had to first give up the right to object.

 A False Claim: The proposition made by the sponsors of Senate Bill 6 that Sections 10 and 11 are “necessary” components of the bill because independent animal rescues are at “high risk” for animal abuse/neglect offense and must be regulated (by them) is shocking and completely unsupported by the facts. Exploiting one recent isolated sensational criminal case, the Alicia Inglish case in Salem, Oregon, a case successfully prosecuted under existing laws, is a calculated misleading effort driven by an unspecified political agenda. The incidence of neglect or abuse among Oregon’s hundreds of small independent rescues is extraordinarily rare. Why are independent rescues being targeted as a class instead of simply prosecuting abuse or neglect where it is found, individually or as an entity?

Under the guise of providing modest accountability, Sections 10 and 11 of Senate Bill 6 grant unfettered police powers to enforcement agencies to search and inspect the private property of rescues, often their homes and homes of foster families, without the need to show probable cause. That is very likely unconstitutional.

The Reality: No one works harder out of pocket, driven by compassion, than Oregon’s independent small animal rescues. That can be proven every day.

As small rescues we have no political agenda and no lobbyists at the legislature. Our mission is humanitarian not politically motivated or driven: rescuing and saving the lives of Oregon’s homeless companion animals. When small independent rescues fund raise we do so for the sake of homeless animals, not to fund campaign efforts. We have no other group purpose.

Large corporate animal protection societies, some who are sponsors of SB 6 have never represented us nor do they represent our interests now. We are the rescues that take the animals that large humane societies and county and city animal control agencies deem “unadoptable” and discard. If we didn’t take them they would have no future. The majority would be killed. We are given no funding by the corporate animal protection groups (including the bill’s sponsors) to meet the necessary and often prohibitively costly rehabilitation of the homeless animals they reject. For example, one small independent rescue was called by a large well endowed humane society and asked to take a Rottweiler puppy with hip dysplasia. The humane society kept the puppy’s littermate, the one without a handicap. Overwhelmingly small animal rescues (unlike corporate entities) provide all necessary care, do home checks as part of due diligence, take back adoption returns without question and correct the problem. Most corporate animal entities do not have the same exacting high standards. We do not abandon the animals we have been charged with caring for to the system.

We ask Oregon’s legislature to please allow our concerns and views to be heard. Take the time to pass a good bill, not a profoundly flawed bill with empty promises of later “corrections”. Vote to amend the bill and delete Sections 10 and 11. It is misguided and there are too many apparent civil rights violations for the bill to be enforceable. 

Senate Bill 6 is now referred to the House Rules Committee. Representative John Davis has requested deletion of Sections 10 and 11.  

Contact your house representative and ask them to support the amendment deleting sections 10 and 11 of Senate Bill 6.  For a complete contact list for members of the House of Representatives go to the contact list given at end of petition.

Speaker of the House: Tina Kotek

Members of the Rules Committee:


Vice Chairs:,


Telephone contact information:

(D) Tina Kotek: 503.986.1200  
(D) Chris Garrett: 503.986.1438
(D) Val Hoyle: 503.986.1414
(R) Wally Hicks: 503 503.986.1403
(R) Bill Kennemer: 503.986.1439
(R) Bob Jenson: 503.986.1458
(D) Michael Dembrow: 503.986.1445
(D) Paul Holvey:  503-986-1408
(D) Phil Barnhart: 503.986.1411
(R) Vicki Berger: 503.986.1420


July 02, 2013 Update: Senate Bill 6 passed the Oregon Senate on July 01 and is now under review by the House of Representatives. Write and call members of the Oregon House of Representatives and ask for an amendment to SB 6 specifically eliminating sections 10 and 11, clauses that apply to rescues. Sections 10 and 11 give unfettered police powers to enforcement agencies for warrantless searches of the private property of rescues, often their homes and homes of foster families, without the need to show probable cause. The assumption that rescues as a class are abusive or at higher risk of offending is categorically false and unsupported by the facts. The target of any abuse or neglect bill should always be abusive individual or entities not an entire class. Rescues are not political entities. None were asked to be part of the development of SB 6 unless they dropped opposition to its passage.

History:  Senate Bill 6, to increase prosecution and fines for animal abusers, was introduced this week with sections at the end of the bill defining and addressing "rescue groups" (any person or organization with more than 10 animals). Oregon's many and fiercely dedicated animal rescue groups were caught totally by surprise and were never offered an opportunity to contribute to the content of this legislation as it pertains to rescues. As it is, they find themselves included at the end of a bill that seems to link rescues with felony animal abuse Opposition has mounted and escalated rapidly in the past few days. We need public support.

Essentially Sections 10 and 11 allow unannounced investigations and fines against rescue groups (often private homes), based on some sort of complaint (not defined - could be people don’t like the “cat lady” across the street)? What happened to Fourth Amendment Rights and probable cause? Stiff fines and penalties can be imposed by animal control agencies – who themselves often fail to meet what will be required of small rescue groups. And it is the animal control agencies that would be the enforcers against the rescues in many cases! How can a rescue group possibly question or criticize an animal control agency that will now serve as an enforcer against them? Most small rescue groups do stellar work and are the lifeline for “unadoptable” animals rejected by shelters and humane societies. Most operate with a small group of volunteers and a tight budget, which is spent on food, shelter and veterinary care for the animals in their charge. They would have no excess funding to pay for legal representation to answer to even mundane complaints.

The small rescue groups are asking for a delay in the vote on SB 6 until such time that they can have some voice in revising the “rescue groups” section in the proposed legislation, to more clearly define the terms, so that it serves in the best interests of the animals cared for by the rescue groups and to enable these groups to do their valuable lifesaving work without fear of being shut down by someone with an ax to grind.

The vote was Monday, July 1, and now suddenly there is an “emergency clause” to make this bill effective immediately. This “emergency” was declared within the last 24 hours, AFTER the rescue groups started calling and emailing (within the last two days, when the found out about the bill) to request a delayed vote until their voices could be heard.

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