SCS/SB 817 - This act modifies provisions relating to impounded animals.
Currently, any public health official or law enforcement official may seek a warrant to inspect, care for, or impound neglected or abused animals. This act instead requires that such warrant be sought by a peace officer, and requires that such warrant be signed, witnessed, and accompanied by a probable cause affidavit. Under this act, the peace officer may be accompanied by a licensed veterinarian when inspecting, caring for, and impounding animals. Further, such warrant may also be issued if the officer believes that the animal is involved in dogfighting.
Currently, an animal disposition hearing shall occur within 30 days of impoundment. Under this act, the disposition hearing shall occur within 20 days for the purpose of granting final disposition of the animal. No animal shall be sterilized prior to such hearing unless necessary to save the life or relieve the suffering of the animal. This act creates the offense of intentional animal euthanization, punishable as a Class B misdemeanor except for second and subsequent offenses in which case it is a Class A misdemeanor . A person who commits the offense of intentional animal euthanization shall also be liable to the animal’s owner for damages.
This act also sets forth requirements for animal disposition hearings, including prohibiting the disposition court from returning neglected and abused animals to their owners, stating that the disposition judgment shall be final and appealable, and allowing the owner of the animal to post a bond with the court to provide for the animal's care and keeping during the pendency of the disposition hearing and appeals process or sign a notice of financial liability. The authority keeping the animal shall be responsible for submitting receipts to the court for the animal's care every 5 days, which shall be the basis for reimbursement from the deposited funds. If the court determines that the animal was unlawfully impounded, the animal and all deposited funds shall be returned to the animal's owner within a reasonable amount of time, and such costs for the animal's care shall be the responsibility of the impounding agency. If the animal's owner signed a notice of financial liability, such owner shall be released from such liability. If the court determines that the animal was lawfully impounded, the animal's owner shall forfeit all bonded amounts, or if such owner signed a notice of financial liability, shall be liable to the authority having custody of the animal for all costs relating to the animal's care. An owner is also allowed to file a personalized animal care plan with the court, in addition to reasonable bond or security, under this act.
Currently, law enforcement may apply for and serve a warrant in order to enforce certain criminal offenses relating to animals. This act expands the list of offenses in which law enforcement may seek a warrant. Further, if an animal is impounded due to dogfighting, this act also allows law enforcement to take possession of all nonanimal property used, or believed to be used, in such dogfighting.
This act is similar to HB 1945 (2018), SB 331 (2017), and HB 384 (2017).