OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – For the second time this year, an Oklahoma judge has ruled in favor of a man accused of animal cruelty.
In June, OKC Animal Welfare seized 14 tropical birds from a home near N.W. 23rd and Council in Oklahoma City after they were found to be malnourished and missing feathers.
Officers with the Oklahoma City Police Department said the conditions in the house were deplorable, and neighbors believed the birds had been abandoned.
After seizing the birds, authorities charged the owner, Paul Fondren, with felony animal cruelty.
As the birds recovered at the shelter, Fondren fought back in court because detectives entered his home without a search warrant or his consent.
“So you had all these government agencies going out to Mr. Fondren’s home and nobody said, ‘Hey, do you think we should call Mr. Fondren and see if we can get his consent? Or maybe we ought to go a judge and get a warrant?’ They did neither!” said Fondren’s defense attorney Scott Adams.
Animal welfare officials say city policy allows their investigators to enter a property without a warrant when an animal is in danger.
“If we get there and conditions are deplorable and animals are in danger and they need to be taken right away, our ordinance gives us the authority to pull based on that,” said OKC Animal Welfare’s Lyne Huffman.
In September, an Oklahoma County district judge ruled that the birds must be returned to Fondren.
Now, a second judge has issued a ruling on the case.
On Thursday, an Oklahoma County judge ruled in favor of Fondren and ordered the parrots to be returned to him.
“It goes down to our basic fundamental rights; the 4th amendment,” Adams told News 4 in September. “The government can’t just come into your home.”