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Animal Abuse Bill Is Response To Prineville Case

SALEM, OR -- Oregon’s House Judiciary Committee holds a work session Thursday on a bill making it illegal to make, possess or sell materials depicting animal abuse. State Rep. David Gomberg (D-Lincoln Co.) is the chief sponsor and spoke at a recent public hearing. "The bill before you was a response to a recent federal indictment of a Prineville resident, who was engaging in an online animal torturing ring." He told the committee the man is accused of, "Encouraging the creation and distribution of violent and cruel images and videos, in which monkeys were tortured, mutilated and murdered on camera, for profit."

But Gomberg notes the suspect in the "animal crushing" case is not charged with any state crimes, "While federal law is clear that the creation and distribution of these materials is illegal, federal law requires interstate or foreign commerce to prosecute. No such law exists here at the state level." He added, "It’s unlawful to intentionally torture animals in Oregon. It is not against our law and take pictures of these illegal acts and sell them." There are exceptions in the bill for educational materials and other legitimate uses.

Aaron Knott, with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, helped write an amendment addressing potential Free Speech concerns. "It’s not enough to say, ‘you just inflicted serious physical injury on an animal.’ Hunting does that. Bullfighting does that. Veterinary practices do that." He believes the bill passes the First Amendment test, "As an action that’s been taken for the primary purpose of inflicting pain, so there is no legitimate reason."

Knott says while this issue should be taken seriously, there is not an epidemic of this behavior. There is no organized opposition to the bill. 

"It’s horrific, it really happens, and it really happens here," says Gomberg. 


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