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January 24, 2014

Montana Supreme Court Urged to Uphold Animal Cruelty Law

Morrison, Sherwood, Wilson & Deola, PLLP, Latham & Watkins, LLP

In a brief filed today, The Humane Society of the United States urges the Montana Supreme Court to reject an appeal filed by a dog breeder convicted under the state’s animal cruelty law.

Mike Chilinski, convicted of 91 counts of animal cruelty and currently serving a prison term, has challenged the constitutionality of Montana’s animal cruelty law and argues that the court erred in ordering him to forfeit his dogs as part of his sentence. According to law enforcement, adult dogs and puppies were found dead on Chilinski’s property and records show that the majority of the surviving dogs rescued from the property were underweight, with many severely undernourished.

In a “friend of the court” brief, The HSUS argues that the Court has upheld laws with language similar to that which Chilinski is challenging. Other state courts that have considered similar arguments against animal cruelty laws have uniformly rejected those challenges. The brief also explains that the order to forfeit Chilinski’s dogs is a lawful exercise of the sentencing court’s authority. The HSUS is being represented pro bono by Latham & Watkins, LLP, along with attorneys from The HSUS’s Animal Protection Litigation section, and the law firm Morrison, Sherwood, Wilson & Deola, PLLP.

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