Oregon Changes to Animal Abuse, Neglect, and Assault Law Initiative (2022)

The Oregon Changes to Animal Abuse, Neglect and Assault Law Initiative may appear on the ballot in Oregon as an initiated state statute on November 8, 2022.

ORS 167.320 is an amendment to 167.315

The initiative would make the following changes to Oregon law concerning animal abuse, neglect, and assault:[1][2]

  • adds an exception for actions against an animal that are “necessary to defend him or herself against an apparent threat of immediate violence”
  • removes the exception for “good animal husbandry”, rodeo animals, fishing, hunting, trapping, scientific research using animals, and pest control.

The changes would become effective 30 days after the law is approved.

The alleged Findings and Policy of the Act describe the purpose of the act,

to remove the current exemptions that allow for the inhumane and unnecessary abuse, neglect, and assault of animals.

What are those current exemptions, which the initiative has now labeled inhumane, unnecessary abuse, neglect and assault of animals (unless gross negligence can be shown)?  Here is a list of those current exemptions:

  • The treatment of livestock being transported by owner or common carrier;
  • Animals involved in rodeos or similar exhibitions;
  • Commercially grown poultry;
  • Animals subject to good animal husbandry practices;
  • The killing of livestock
  • Lawful fishing, hunting and trapping activities;
  • Wildlife management practices under color of law;
  • Lawful scientific or agricultural research or teaching that involves the use of animals;
  • Reasonable activities undertaken in connection with the control of vermin or pests; and
  • Reasonable handling and training techniques.

Need I say more?

Just in case this is not clear, by initially defining the existing exemptions (listed above) as inhumane, unnecessary abuse, neglect, and assault of animals, these practices would be considered acts of animal cruelty if the initiative passes muster, is placed on the ballot and passes.

No more pest control, animal agriculture, hunting fishing, biomedical animal research, and more.

The initiative also prohibits breeding domestic animals, livestock, and horses—labeling those acts, unless performed by a licensed veterinarian—to be crimes of sexual assault of an animal.

Keep in mind that, as reported by Oregon’s Legislative Policy and Research Office, Oregon already has:

a variety of ways in which Oregon protects animals, including criminalization of abuse or neglect, an affirmative duty for any peace officer to arrest and prosecute violators of Oregon’s animal cruelty laws, regulation of kennels and rescue organization and enhanced enforcement authority through humane special agents and animal crime prosecutors.

Hopefully, Oregon’s new initiative will not succeed and people who own, breed, raise, transport, sell and work with animals will be able to continue to do so, for the betterment of people and animals alike.

Details about this initiative

  • The initiative was filed on November 2, 2020, by David Andrew Michelson.[2]
  • The sponsorship signatures were submitted to the secretary of state for verification on April 28, 2021.[2]