Well, here is the story of yet another one. This time I have permission from the author of the letter to post the entire thing here for your education and enlightenment. Please read on...
Background for the email below:
Commonwealth of Virginia
Dear Attorney General McDonnell:
I have received your letter of the 5th asking for a contribution to your campaign for governor. I'm a lifelong conservative and nearly always vote Republican so I would be a logical supporter of your campaign.
However, I'm also a lifelong dog lover and because my wife and I breed whippets as a hobby, I've been studying pet animal laws both in Virginia and across the country for several years now. That hasn't been fun and it hasn't given me a very good impression of animal law enforcement across our country. However up until the last couple of years, we've had few problems in Virginia.
The Dave Winesett case was rotten from the start. Here's the relevant
§ 3.2-6569. (Effective October 1, 2008) Seizure and impoundment of
animals; notice and hearing; disposition of animal; disposition of
proceeds upon sale.
A. Any humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or animal control
officer may lawfully seize and impound any animal that has been
abandoned, has been cruelly treated, or is suffering from an apparent
violation of this chapter that has rendered the animal in such a
condition as to constitute a direct and immediate threat to its life,
safety or health.
Seizure is to be used only in cases where no lesser measure will protect the animal(s). Abandoned animals, a violently abusive owner, animals that are so sick or badly injured that urgent veterinary care is needed and the owner cannot be depended on to provide it, and so on. For cases that are simply non-adequate care, citations (with follow up if necessary to assure timely correction) are safer for the animals, far cheaper, and respectful of owner civil rights. When the violations warrant, a court can subsequently order forfeiture of animals and payment of costs, along with other penalties.
Indeed, Mr. Winesett had been visited by an animal control officer on November 7th. Local officials deny that their officer sought further action.
What do we hear of the Winesett animals? Some grooming problems (matting, nails needed trimming), some animals said to have foot problems, one elderly toy dog with the bad teeth typical in this situation. We're told that conditions were 'deplorable' but of course that's a subjective term and not justification for seizure.
Most animals were expected to be ready for adoption almost immediately after the hearing of December 2. Few to none of them could have had issues requiring seizure on November 13th.
Conservatives believe government should leave citizens alone; we REALLY don't like 'under color of law' support of a private agenda such as that of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), represented in this case by the Virginia Animal Fighting (or Animal Cruelty) Task Force (VAFTF). These are hard-core animal rights organizations whose purpose is making money and gaining power by attacking animal ownership and breeding.
As I expect you know, HSUS itself focuses on enacting anti-animal ownership laws. They routinely use proxies like the VAFTF to promote abusive enforcement actions. We conservatives can do better supporting an average Democrat than with a Republican who hangs out with this crowd.
The seizure was carried out by seven state police sergeants and a captain. The state veterinarian's office was represented. At least three state vehicles would have been needed. At least two representatives of your office were present at the hearing of December 2nd, case preparation would have required some tens of hours, and of course operating a courtroom isn't free. The bill for all that would be somewhere in the $200,000 range, wouldn't you say?
Now we learn that you're appealing the dismissal of the seizure hearing. That'll add what -- another $25,000-$50,000 or so to the cost? Of course those 'Angels' folks are running up a tab caring for the animals: The state may well end up paying that, too.
Conservatives don't like it when government flushes our tax money down the toilet. But that's probably not how you see it: Because the case itself is so weak, getting a seizure hearing is critical to your strategy for winning.
Gosh I hope this stuff makes your skin crawl just a little bit. AGs always talk 'tough on crime' but the people on whom these animal cases are dropped are almost never what you'd call criminals.
The way I read the tea leaves, this case couldn't have developed as it has unless one or both of you and Governor Kaine were trying to make points with HSUS by being 'tough on animal cruelty.' The photo-op with Robin Starr hangs a tag on your jacket.
This sort of behavior is more like 'disgusting' than 'conservative.'
Each and every one of us needs to set fingers to keyboard and write letters of this sort to our elected officials and let them know exactly how we feel about what amounts to illegal search and seizure by pseudo law enforcement types who have managed to gain real law enforcement backup. Do continue to sit back and let them strip all our freedoms away.