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Oregon Court Rules Canine Blood Sample Doesn't Need Warrant

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The Oregon Supreme Court says dogs are more than simply property. Justices Thursday overturned a lower court's ruling that found that taking a blood sample from a dog was a warrantless search.

It all started when a police officer took custody of a Portland woman's dog when the officer observed the animal in what he called a "near-emaciated condition." A vet at the Oregon Humane Society said the dog, named Juno, was so thin his ribs were visibly protruding. The vet took a blood sample to see what was wrong. It turned out to be a simple case of malnourishment. Juno was nursed back to health and adopted out to a new family.

Juno's first owner was convicted of animal neglect. But the conviction was overturned when her lawyers argued that since dogs are classified as personal property, the blood sample was effectively a warrantless search.

But the Oregon Supreme Court disagreed. Justices said that while dogs are the property of their owners, taking a blood sample is a reasonable course of action as part of providing it medical care.

In a unanimous opinion, Senior Justice pro tempore Virginia Linder wrote, "We agree with [prosecutors] that Juno is not analogous to, and should not be analyzed as though he were, an opaque inanimate container in which inanimate property or effects were being stored or concealed."