Friday, December 11, 2009

When Animal Law and Foreclosure Law Intersects...

The evicted owner of Bonniedale Farms, upset with the way 136 animals on his farm have been treated since he was forced off the property Monday by Wells Fargo Bank, plans to go before a Superior Court judge Wednesday to get a restraining order to force the bank or its agents to provide food, water and care for the animals left behind.

Guy Settipane, the lawyer for Dan MacKenzie, said his client became concerned Tuesday morning after neighbors described chaotic conditions on the property on Snake Hill Road. He said MacKenzie became alarmed when he went to the site and saw, from a distance, “total strangers walking off with his animals.” But the lawyer said his main concern was for the animals — including cats, dogs, chickens, pigs, horses, sheep, goats and others — that he said had been left to fend for themselves...

Read the whole story here.

Now, I fully understand and agree that a bank's right to foreclose on real property is not dependent on what that real property is being used for.  But, if the bank exercises that right, surely it should have a legal (if not moral) obligation to provide basic care for animals living on the farm. 

This is not a situation where Homeowner X leaves behind Buffy the Cat and the bank decides not to continue cleaning the cat litter.  In this case, the animals are much more of a fixture to the property.  If the bank is going to evict the farmer, then it should be required to replace the farmer with a basic animal caregiver in the interim. 

If for no other reason than, as this article discusses, to protect itself against possible animal neglect and cruelty charges as the now-property owners.

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

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