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Need information on legal remedy for a private company/persons who have violated my constitutional rights and harassed me.

Puyallup, WA |

Back in Feb of 2012, an animal rights agency called Pasado's Safe Haven came to my house and got permission from my 10 year old daughter to enter my property and take pictures of my dogs and their kennels. They then told my children that they needed to let me know they would be back with the police at 10 pm after I returned from work. And they did - I explained the occurrence to the police, and the supervisor from animal control came to my house a couple days later, looked over my dogs, and said everything looked good and I should consider suing these people. Every 6 months or so I get another visit from animal control saying there have been complaints about my dogs. I am unable to get to the auditor's office to find out who is doing this, and would like any advice appropriate. Thanks

Attorney Answers 3

  1. A private company cannot violate constitutional rights. Your rights as guaranteed by the constitution guarantee those rights against government interference not against private individuals or companies. So unless the company is an agent of or acting on behalf of a government official or agency, it cannot violate someone's constitutional rights. They may be committing a crime if they are falsely reporting information to law enforcement authorities. They may also be subject to civil liability for libel, slander or malicious prosecution or some other cause of action. You should speak to an attorney in you area about what legal remedies are available.

  2. Your question does not contain sufficient information to allow an attorney to give you meaningful advice. However, there is nothing illegal when a private animal rights organization investigates conduct of a private citizen who has dogs and dog kennels and complains about the treatment of the dogs. Moreover, visits by animal control agencies of the state or federal government are entirely appropriate--especially here where they have not interfered with your ownership of the dogs or taken any of your property. I see no civil rights violation here-----you have to respect the fact that animal rights organizations may have a point of view over proper treatment of animals that differs from your own. It is not harassment if the only thing that happens to you is visits every few months from a government agency such as animal control----they are just doing their job and it hardly interferes with any of your rights. If there is more to this story, then hire legal counsel in your area to review the situation with you.

    One further point---our legal system is focussed on providing remedies for actual economic harm. Even if these complaints have upset you, it is hard to see how this has caused you any actual economic harm. Law suits---even civil rights suits---are expensive, and it would be very hard to justify the economic expense of pursuing a claim in this situation.

  3. You do not have any form of constitutional claim against the animal rights group. As noted by the other attorneys, the constitution protects people from the government not private groups. Your best bet is to reach out to the animal rights group and/or the animal control agency, explain the situation and try to improve your relationship with them. Threatening a lawsuit may be counterproductive.

    Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between you and Jeffrey Lewis. If you have a legal question, you should contact an attorney and seek legal advice based on your specific circumstances. Do not take any actions or refrain from acting based on any information contained in this website. Jeffrey Lewis disclaims any liability or responsibility for any actions taken or not taken in reliance on this website.

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