Animal Cruelty Record Stops Suit in Its Tracks

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – An Arkansas woman with a previous record of animal cruelty cannot sue Arkansas officials for seizing hundreds her dogs, the 8th Circuit ruled.
     In 2005, Arkansas officials removed 163 dogs from Gloria Crawford’s property and charged her with 163 counts of animal cruelty. Crawford eventually pleaded guilty and forfeited the dogs to Van Buren County as part of the plea. She also agreed to let county officials inspect her property twice a month.
     On Dec. 13, 2006, Van Buren County Animal Control Officer Debby Fogle entered Crawford’s property, along with Kay Jordan, the shelter manager of the Humane Society for Pulaski County, and seized 201 dogs, their crates and supplies. Crawford was sentenced to one year in jail, and her property was forfeited to Van Buren County after a judge convicted her of animal cruelty.
     Crawford filed suit against Van Buren County, the Pulaski County and Beebe Humane Societies, Jaxie Hopper, Fogle and Jordan, claiming they violated her Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights by unreasonably searching and seizing her property. She also claimed that they violated her due- process rights by not letting her appear before a judicial officer and by failing to protect her property.
     After a federal judge in Arkansas granted the defendants summary judgment, the 8th Circuit affirmed Monday.
     “Crawford failed to show an unconstitutional policy or custom was the moving force behind the violation of her rights,” Judge Kermit Bye wrote for a three-member panel. “Fogle was acting pursuant to a valid search warrant when she entered Crawford’s property to seize the dogs. Moreover, under the 2005 plea agreement, Fogle had the authority to inspect the premises twice monthly. On top of that, Crawford consented to Fogle’s entry. Lastly, other than the 2006 search, Crawford ‘does not point to any incidents or claims that would show that the entities maintained a custom of violating constitutional rights.’ … Thus, the court properly granted summary judgment on the claims against the county.”
     Judges Roger Wollman and Duane Benton joined Bye in the decision.

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