Warrantless Searches Extend To Animals, Not Only NSA Spying, Thanks To Massachusetts

Warrantless searches are now allowed if an animal is felt to be in danger, and not just if the NSA feels you are a threat to the United States.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, warrantless searches used by the FBI on Google managed to get hold of private data, making some users pretty upset.

Massachusetts ruled Friday that police can enter private property without a search warrant even if they believe an animal’s life is endangered. Supreme Judicial Court Justice Barbara Lenk wrote for the unanimous court decision that they justified warrantless searches because animals should be given the same value as the lives of people:

“The question is one of first impression for this court. In agreement with a number of courts in other jurisdictions that have considered the issue, we conclude that, in appropriate circumstances, animals, like humans, should be afforded the protection of the emergency aid exception.”

Animal advocacy groups were ecstatic at the ruling, but not everyone was so happy. The defense attorney claimed the “ruling was so vaguely worded that police can claim concern about an ant farm or a goldfish to bypass privacy rights.” Travis J. Jacobs, a Boston attorney, agrees the decision may override the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizures:

“If you have an officer who is particularly sensitive to animal injuries, an officer can use this opinion that broad way. I bring up that ant farm and goldfish examples to show the extremes. But lots of times, cases are resolved by extremes. [The SJC] didn’t classify any types of animals that would qualify. The ruling doesn’t limit it to domesticated animals.”

It’s feared that the warrantless searches for animals may be misused in the same manner the NSA spying scandal has extended its reach beyond what some say should be legally allowed. Recently, a review of United States spying programs confirmed that warrantless searches were used on Americans:

“Senior officials have sometimes suggested that government agencies do not deliberately read Americans’ emails, monitor their online activity or listen to their phone calls without a warrant. However, the facts show that those suggestions were misleading, and that intelligence agencies have indeed conducted warrantless searches for Americans’ communications.”

There also may be odd examples that may blur the lines. For example, a case in Florida involved a man who was convicted of breaking into a house to save the life of a snake whose owner was killing it in his freezer. There’s also instances of deer and wild animals wandering into homes who do great damage to themselves and the house. Would a warrantless search be justified in this case?

Do you think warrantless searches are reasonable in the case of potential animal danger?