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Derivative Contraband Ruling Saves Luke

Story ID:11162
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Philadelphia Pennsylvania usa
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Unless you are a lawyer or you have also received the latest newsletter from
Animal Legal Defense, you are probably shaking your head and asking- what in
the world does Derivative Contraband mean?

At this juncture I will only say that it was the legal vehicle which saved Luke -a 6
month old puppy from being returned to Timothy Kuhn and his girlfriend of Philadelphia.
Sadly he and she proved that Philadelphia is not always the city of brotherly love.

So what was their crime? One Friday night about two years ago- Timothy Kuhn was
at home with his girlfriend and Luke, their 6 -month old puppy. Luke, as any puppy
was probably just doing all the things any young puppy would be doing, when Kuhn
grabbed him and violently threw him against the wall. Dazed and whimpering from
the impact which shattered his shoulder- he would find no comfort from either this
brute or his girlfriend.

Sadly, I was reminded of what Saddam Hussein who one time did almost the same
thing to an innocent little kitten. After seemingly to lovingly caress the little kitten,
he suddenly took her and threw her viciously against the wall – painfully smashing
her little body. And then he had the audacity to suggest that she should be made into a
stew. Obviously, both men had a similar mean streak in them though, of course, Hussein’s
was worse.

Luke needed medical attention and comfort but this hardened and cruel man-Timothy W.
Kuhns II simply went to bed and ignored the suffering puppy. His girlfriend also it seems
was unconcerned.

I don’t know how this cruelty became known but Kuhns was finally charged with animal
cruelty. But he would not receive either jail time or a fine because his girlfriend, the key
witness, changed her original testimony as to how Luke received his injuries. Those two
deserve each other.

And then this cruel man had the audacity to demand that Luke be returned to him. He
filed a motion calling for the “return of property” which he felt was his right.

Thankfully, Melissa Kalaus, the local prosecutor, justifiably concerned re the prospect of
Luke being returned to this abusive man- turned to the Animal Legal Defense for ideas.
Brainstorming together, they came up with the idea of DERIVATIVE CONTRABAND – a
legal strategy normally used in cases involving drugs or stolen property. For the first time
it would be used by Assistant District Attorney Kalaus to successfully argue that Luke did
not have to return to his abuser because the puppy was “derivative contraband’ of the crime
of neglect when the defendant failed to provide necessary vet care for the injured puppy.

Brilliant. In essence this derivative contraband argument said:
“1. Kuhns engaged in the crime of animal neglect (not taking Luke to the vet.)
2. As subject of the crime, Luke the puppy was integrally related to that crime.
3. As such, Luke should be declared contraband.
4. Since Luke is contraband, the court could order Kuhns to forfeit him.”

It was a big win for Luke. He would never ever have to be in the same room with the two
cruel people who let him down big time. I feel certain that today he is living in a loving
environment- thanks to Animal Legal Defense and Assistant Prosecutor Melissa Kalaus.

And of course, we now all know now (if we hadn’t before) the meaning of DERIVATIVE
CONTRABAND- though this sweet little puppy is much more than that. He is a
living, loving creature of God. It is too bad that that wasn’t enough for our system
of law to save him from his former cruel owners without declaring him derivative