Important Information for
Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS) has an Anti-Puppy Task Force in place. As ridiculous as it sounds, it is anything but funny when an innocent pet owner attempts to sell one or more puppies and finds him/herself the target of a sting operation.
LMAS is misapplying the current animal control ordinance, telling people they must have a Class A Kennel license (commercial breeders license, for those whose primary purpose is breeding/selling dogs) in order to sell or even give away puppies. This is incorrect, and we believe that it will not stand up in court.
Many people who have already been targeted have found their animals confiscated, puppies exposed to the filthy conditions at LMAS’ shelter, nursing bitches spayed against the advice of their veterinarian, and thousands of dollars in fines & fees required to rescue their animals from the clutches of Meloche. Contrary to rumor, the people targeted have included those who had an accidental litter and show dog owners who bred a litter to continue their line. NO ONE IS IMMUNE.
Here’s what you can do to avoid the same situation:
- If you have a puppy to sell, and you receive an inquiry from an interested buyer, DO NOT tell the buyer where you live, where the puppies were born, or any other information that could be used by LMAS to track you. If you do not know the buyer personally, DO NOT allow them to come to your home, and DO NOT meet them in Jefferson County to show them either parent dogs or puppies.
- Insist that you meet the potential buyer OUTSIDE of Jefferson County. You do not want to find yourself the target of a sting inside LMAS’ jurisdiction. Ask the potential buyer if he/she will want to see your kennel license. If the answer is yes, END ALL COMMUNICATION WITH THIS PERSON—HE/SHE IS LIKELY A LMAS PLANT.
- DO NOT allow anyone to come to your home to see puppies/kittens unless you are personally there. Babysitters, kennel help, your kids or spouse, or anyone who is at your home can grant permission for authorities to search.
- If you do allow a potential buyer to come to your home, and you find yourself confronted by LMAS, DO NOT PANIC. Follow the steps below:
- Step outside your home, closing & locking the door behind you. Neither LMAS nor the police may enter your home without a warrant or your permission. Insist on a warrant, even if they threaten you with arrest for refusing entry. Such an arrest would very likely be a civil rights violation---which removes sovereign immunity from all involved, leaving them personally liable for their actions.
- NEVER speak to LMAS from an open doorway!
- Write down the names of all police and animal control officers involved, including badge numbers. Get vehicle numbers as well.
- Contact your attorney immediately. If you do not have an attorney, or are not confident that your attorney is well-informed on animal issues, we recommend Pat King (585-5763, 730 W. Market St.), or John Fowler(500-0094)
- You do not have to answer any questions if you are not comfortable doing so.
- If LMAS leaves to get a warrant, call your friends to come and remove your dogs from the premises. Use the time to make sure your kennel area & home are clean and that there is nothing in sight that can be used against you.
- When LMAS returns, insist on seeing and reading the warrant. The warrant is not valid without a judge’s signature! DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING—not a citation, not a warrant, not an agreement—even if they try to tell you that things will go much better for you if you do. They will lie.
- DO NOT allow LMAS to seize anything not specified in the warrant, or to go in areas not covered in the warrant.
Whatever else you do, remember to stay calm, be polite, and do not physically resist a police officer. If they barge into your home without permission, try to get a camera and record everything they do. If you can’t get a camera, write down a detailed description of the raid as soon as you can. Get officers names & badge numbers. Entry by authorities without permission, a warrant ort probable cause is ILLEGAL, and you can file a civil rights lawsuit against all those involved both in their official capacity and as individuals.
Below is a copy of a document giving more generalized advice about what to do when animal control comes to your door.
WHAT TO DO WHEN ANIMAL CONTROL COMES KNOCKING
by George J. Eigenhauser Jr.
(He is an attorney at law licensed in the State of California since 1979 and practices in the areas of civil litigation and estate planning)
ANTI-DOG ENFORCEMENT - What Every Dog Owner Needs to Know
Dog owners and ethical breeders are increasingly being targeted. Disgruntled neighbors may retaliate against dog owners and may other reasons drive complaints, and anti-dog enforcement action, which many times may be conducted illegally.
The following text outlines methods of inquiry and enforcement which may be used by local officials in attempts to enforce ordinances in your community and suggested techniques of response. These techniques are entirely legal and based upon the rights of citizens as stated by the U.S. Constitution.
No breeder wants to have Animal Control come knocking on the door...but if they do, it will help if you know what your options are.
Remember, Animal Control is law enforcement. They are bound by the same Constitution as any other government agency. To protect yourself, you need to know your rights. These vary slightly one jurisdiction to another, but some general principles apply. One rule applies everywhere: never physically resist an officer.
When Animal Control is At Your Door:
1. Do not let them in, no matter how much they ask. Animal Control generally cannot enter your home without a warrant, or your permission. While regular police can enter in emergency situations when human life is at risk (i.e. they hear gunshots and a scream inside), there are few, if any, situations in which Animal Control can enter your home without a warrant. Simply tell them they may not come in.
2. If you let them in, anything they find in "plain sight" can be used against you. In some circumstances Animal Control officers, unable to find a legitimate reason to make an arrest, have reported building or zoning violations. This may include caging you attached to a wall without a building permit, that extra outlet in the puppy room, having more pets than allowed by zoning, even extension cords in violation of fire codes! No matter how clean your kennel, if they want to find a violation, they will.
3. Do not talk to them from an open doorway. Step outside an close (and lock if possible) the door behind you. This is necessary because:
A) Anything they see through the open door is "plain sight" and may be the basis for an arrest, or probable cause for a search warrant.
B) If they make an arrest or even feel threatened they are usually permitted to search for weapons in your immediate area. Do you keep a baseball bat inside the door for your protection? Even if you don't, once they step inside to look, they are in your home and may continue to search.
C) It is hard not to be intimidated by someone in authority. Some animal control is even done by local police, who carry guns. It is easy for them to get "in your face", causing you to back up into the home. Once you go in, it will be interpreted as an invitation to follow.
4. If they claim to have a warrant, demand to see it. In general, a search warrant must be signed by a judge. A warrant to search your home for dogs does not include an inventory of your jewelry box. A warrant to search your kennel in the garage or in the barn does not include a search of your home.
5. In some locations dog owners may have obtained special "breeder permits" that stipulate that Animal Control has your permission to enter at any time. If you have signed such a permit they still cannot enter against your wishes, since you can revoke the permission at any time. However, if you refuse permission it may allow them to cancel your breeder permit, so you have to weigh the consequences.
6. Warning - anyone in lawful possession of the premises may be able to give permission for a search. Make sure your roommate, babysitter, dog-sitter, housekeeper and other know that they should not let animal control into your home or on your property (i.e. backyard, garage, etc.).
How to Handle Questions:
1. Don’t answer any questions beyond identifying yourself for the officer. Anything you say to the officer in your defense cannot be used in court (hearsay). Anything you say that is harmful to you will be used in court (confessions are not considered hearsay). You cannot win, except by remaining silent.
2. Be polite but firm. Do not argue, bad-mouth, curse, threaten or try to intimidate the officer.
3. Do not lie to an officer, ever. However, it is NOT a lie to exercise your right to remain silent.
4. Keep your hands in plain sight. People have been shot by police when common objects, such as a wallet, were mistaken for a gun.
5. Do not touch the officer in any way. Do not physically resist an officer, no matter how unlawful his or her actions.
6. Don't try to tell your side of the story, it cannot help.
7. Do not threaten the officer that you plan to file a complaint for their actions.
8. If the questioning persists, demand to speak to a lawyer first. Repeat as necessary.
Gathering the Facts:
1. Get the name and badge number of each officer involved. If he/she does not volunteer this information, ask.
2. Ask the name of the agency they represent. Different agencies have different enforcement responsibilities.
3. Ask why they are there. Request the factual basis of the complaint and the identity of the complainant.
4. If they have other people with them (Humane Society, press, etc.) get the names and organizations for all present.
5. Note the names (and addresses) of any witnesses to the encounter.
6. If you are physically injured by an officer, you should take photographs of the injuries immediately, but do not forego proper medical treatment first.
7. Write down all of the information, as well as the date and time of the incident immediately, while details are fresh in your mind.
8. If you rights are violated, file a complaint with the appropriate body.
If You Are Arrested:
1. Remain silent. Answer no questions until you have consulted with a lawyer.
2. Don't "explain" anything. You will have time for explanations after you have talked to a lawyer.
3. Within a reasonable time they must allow you to make a phone call to get a lawyer or arrange bail. They are not allowed to listen to your phone call to your attorney, but they may "monitor" the rooms for "your protection". Do not say anything you do not want them to overhear; save that until after you are out on bail.
Telephone Inquiries or Threats:
You may receive telephone inquiries concerning the number of dogs you own and whether any dogs or puppies are for sale. Other questions may also be asked.
Your response should be to inquire "Are you interested in a puppy?". If the answer is "yes", ask that person for his/her name, address and phone number. Suggest that you or a responsible breeder will contact that person at a more convenient time for you.
If the answer is friendly and genuinely inquisitive, invite the person to look at your puppies.
If the question asked is "What is the price of each puppy?", simply say that puppies of this type are being sold for between "X" and "Y" dollars. Never say that you are selling them.
If the question asked is "Are these your puppies?", you should ask, "Why do you want to know?".
If you conversation indicates that the person is representing the county clerk's office or allegedly representing an official body, ask the caller for:
-Full name, title and phone number
-Agency's full name and full address
-Their supervisor's full name and phone number
-Nature of the inquiry (what it is about)
-Why the inquiry is being made
-How your name and phone number were obtained
-Ask that all future questions from that agency be submitted in writing
1. Always keep you kennel clean and take good care of your animals.
2. Consider a P.O. Box or other address for business cards and advertisements. Keep descriptions of your location general (i.e. Southern California, rather than the name of the city where you live). The internet can provide anonymity for initial contacts. You can even buy a "remote prefix" to get a number from a nearby community forwarded to your phone or to a voice mail. Avoid local newspaper classifieds, they are often monitored.
3. Screen any potential puppy buyers carefully. Always be alert that they may be Animal Control or even Animal Rights working under cover.
4. Don't allow strangers into your home until you have screened them.
5. Be fair and honest in all of your dealings, and be on good terms with your neighbors. Most animal control contacts are complaint-driven. Some complaints may arise as harassment by people with unrelated grievances against you. It may be a disgruntled dog buyer or a cranky neighbor who doesn't like you parking in front of his house.
6. Anything about you that can be observed in "plain sight" from the street or sidewalk can become probable cause for a warrant. Even areas on your property open to visitors can be dangerous. Be aware of which areas of your home are visible from the outside and plan accordingly.
7. If you are confronted by Animal Control and turn them away, assume they will be back. Use the time available to make sure everything is clean and presentable. If you are over the limit on the number of pets, find friends who can provide temporary shelter for your dogs.
Whatever you do, stay calm and keep your wits about you.
Just say "no", no matter what threats or promises of leniency they make.
When in doubt, say nothing and speak to a lawyer afterwards.