BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
                        Senator Ellen M. Corbett, Chair
                           2007-2008 Regular Session


          AB 2949                                                A
          Assembly Member DeSaulnier                             B
          As Amended May 12, 2008
          Hearing Date: June 24, 2008                            2
          Civil Code                                             9
          CS:rm                                                  4
                                                                 9

                                     SUBJECT
                                         
                                Abandoned Pets 

                                   DESCRIPTION 

          Generally, a voluntary deposit of property occurs when a  
          party gives to another, with his or her consent, possession  
          of their personal property; whereas an involuntary deposit  
          of property occurs when the property is provided to another  
          by accident (without negligence) or by necessity.  

          This bill would provide that an involuntary deposit is also  
          made by the abandonment or leaving of a live animal in or  
          about any premises or real property that has been vacated,  
          upon, or immediately preceding, the termination of a rental  
          agreement or foreclosure of the property. 

          This bill would require any person or private entity with  
          whom a live animal is left, as specified, to immediately  
          notify animal control officials for the purpose of  
          retrieving the animal as provided by Penal Code Section  
          597.1, which authorizes any peace officer, humane society  
          officer, or animal control officer to take possession of  
          the abandoned animal and provide care for the animal until  
          the animal is deemed to be in a suitable condition to be  
          returned to the owner.

          This bill would also authorize animal control officials to  
          secure a lien upon the animal for the purpose of recovering  
          the costs of rescuing it, as provided by Penal Code Section  
          597.1. 
                                                                 
          (more)



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          This bill would require a public agency, or a shelter with  
          whom an abandoned animal is deposited, to take charge of  
          it. 

          This bill would exempt abandoned animals, as specified,  
          from the provisions of the Civil Code that governs the  
          disposition of personal property remaining on the premises  
          after a tenancy has terminated and been vacated by the  
          tenant. 
                                    BACKGROUND  

          Although the state provides a process to lawfully deposit  
          animals for adoption and also criminalizes the neglect of  
          animals, the practice of abandoning animals is on the rise.  
            According to the Humane Society and SPCA, animals are  
          being abandoned in record amounts as a result of the  
          mortgage crisis.  These pets are often left by families  
          dealing with financial hardships that must move to  
          apartments that have no-pet policies or to the homes of  
          relatives who do not want the pets.  

          In addition, institutions that own the vacated or  
          foreclosed property are left with the abandoned animals and  
          in some instances direct their agents to not feed or care  
          for the abandoned animal.

          To control the increase in abandoned animal cases and to  
          encourage the reporting of those instances, this bill would  
          require any person or private entity on whose property a  
          live animal is involuntarily left to immediately notify  
          animal control officials.  

                             CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW
           
          1.   Existing law  authorizes any peace officer, humane  
          society officer, or animal
            control officer to seize an abandoned or neglected animal  
            and provide care for the animal until the animal is  
            deemed to be in suitable condition to be returned to the  
            owner.  (Penal Code (Pen. Code) Section 597.1 et seq.)   
             Existing law  provides that any animal properly seized  
            constitutes a lien on the animal if the seizure is upheld  
            at a postseizure hearing, otherwise the lien must be  
            relinquished.  The animal owner, agent of the owner, or  
                                                                       




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            keeper of the animal is subject to personal liability for  
            the costs associated with the lien if they receive notice  
            of the seizure and they do not attend or request a post  
            seizure hearing. (Pen. Code 597.1(f).)   

             Existing law  provides that an involuntary deposit is made  
          by the accidental
            leaving or placing of personal property in the possession  
            of any person, without negligence on the part of its  
            owner, or by the owner of personal property committing  
            it, out of necessity, to the care of any person, or by  
            the delivery to, or picking up by, and the holding of, a  
            stray live animal by any person or public or private  
            entity.  (Civil Code Section 1815 et seq.) 

             This bill  would provide that an involuntary deposit is  
            also made by the abandonment or leaving of a live animal,  
            as proscribed by Section 597.1 of the Penal Code, in or  
            about any premises or real property that has been vacated  
            upon, or immediately preceding the termination of a lease  
            or other rental agreement or foreclosure. 

           2.     Existing law  requires a person or private entity  
            with whom a thing is involuntarily deposited upon to take  
            charge of it, if able to do so.  (Civil Code Section 1816  
            et seq.)  

             This bill would also require any person or private entity  
            with whom a live animal is involuntarily deposited upon,  
            to immediately notify animal control officials for the  
            purpose of retrieving the animal as provided by Penal  
            Code Section 597.1.

             This bill  would also authorize animal control officials  
            to secure a lien upon the animal for the purpose of  
            recovering the costs of rescuing the animal, as provided  
            by Penal Code Section 597.1.  

             This bill  would require a public agency or a shelter with  
            whom an abandoned animal is deposited to take charge of  
            it as required by Penal Code Section 597.1. 

           3.            Existing law  provides an optional procedure  
            for the disposition of personal property that remains on  
            the premises after a tenancy has terminated and the  
                                                                       




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            premises has been vacated by the tenant.  (Civil Code  
            Section 1981 et seq.) 

              This bill  would exempt from that procedure abandoned  
            live animals that have been left on or about any premises  
            or real property that has been vacated, or abandoned  
            animals left immediately preceding the termination of a  
            lease or other rental agreement or foreclosure of the  
            property. 

                                     COMMENT
           
           1.  Need for the bill to eliminate the practice of  
            abandoning live animals and to encourage appropriate  
            reporting  

            The author asserts that the practice of abandoning  
            animals is increasing with the recent housing crisis.   
            Financially strapped families are abandoning their pets,  
            the author asserts, because they cannot afford to take  
            care of them when they are facing foreclosure or  
            eviction.  Yet, their abandoned pets are not being cared  
            for by the subsequent owner of the property, which is  
            generally the foreclosing lender which has no interest in  
            rescuing the animal.  Therefore, the author argues that  
            AB 2949 would ensure more animals find proper care and  
            sanctuary by requiring notification of the abandoned pet  
            to animal control officials by any person or private  
            entity.  

            Proponent of AB 2949, Animal Place, contends that this  
            measure will better inform the real estate industry of  
            their duties when they encounter an abandoned animal.   
            (Animal Place Letter of Support, dated June 5, 2008.)    
            Other proponents of AB 2949 also indicate that this  
            measure will lead to a decrease in animal neglect and an  
            overall increase in animal adoptions. 

            In sum, the author argues that AB 2949 will directly  
            address the need to rescue animals from vacant homes and  
            will provide direction to the housing industry when  
            dealing with abandoned animals.   

           2.  The bill intends to clarify the parties responsible for  
            taking care of or reporting involuntarily deposited  
                                                                       




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            animals 

             Existing law implies that an involuntarily deposited  
            animal should be cared for by a shelter or a private  
            party if they are able to do so - but it does not provide  
            direction regarding abandoned animals at vacated  
            properties.  (See Civil Code Section 1815 et seq.)  

             The intent of AB 2949, the author contends, is to make  
            clear that animal shelters and private parties must also  
            take charge of live animals at vacated properties to  
            further eliminate the overall abandonment of animals.   

           3.  Notifying animal control officials of an abandoned  
            animal reflects a legislative priority  

            When the Legislature enacted SB 1785 (Hayden, Ch. 752,  
            Stats. 1998), creating the duty to take charge of  
            involuntarily deposited animals, the Legislature stated  
            in its declaration and findings that "[i]t is better to  
            have public and private shelters pick up or take in  
            animals than private citizens."  (See Civil Code Section  
            1815 et seq.)  

            AB 2949's requirement that any person or private entity  
            notify animal control officials of an abandoned animal is  
            consistent with the Legislature's preference that animal  
            shelters receive notice and take charge of the animal.   
            Proponents of AB 2949 reason that this provision would  
            provide direction to private parties, particularly the  
            real estate industry, who are more frequently  
            encountering abandoned animals at vacated or foreclosed  
            upon homes.   

           4.  Lien provision is imposed upon the animal and must be  
            paid by the owner or keeper of the animal  
               
            AB 2949 provides an animal control agency with the  
            explicit authority to secure a lien upon the animal for  
            its services pursuant to the Civil Code, mirroring that  
            authority under the Penal Code.  (See Pen. Code Section  
            597.1(a).)  That provision requires the owner, the  
            owner's agent, or the keeper of the animal to pay the  
            lien if the seizure is justified.   (Pen. Code Section  
            597.1(f)-(g).)  A party-owner/keeper is also subject to  
                                                                       




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            personal liability for the costs associated with the lien  
            if they receive notice of the seizure and they do not  
            attend or request a post seizure hearing.  (Id.)  

            Under AB 2949, when an animal control agency seeks to  
            enforce a lien upon an animal that has been found at a  
            vacated home - the actual owner of the animal is unlikely  
            to respond or pay the costs associated with that lien.   
            Rather, the private party that is required to report the  
            incident would be the only available party and might be  
            considered the keeper of the abandoned animal as that  
            phrase is used under the lien provision.  

            To ensure that private parties comply with the reporting  
            requirement, the committee may want to consider revising  
            this measure to avoid the situation where a private party  
            left with an abandoned pet is also considered the keeper  
            of the animal.   From a policy standpoint, this measure  
            intends to encourage reporting of abandoned animals - yet  
            if private parties are subject to liability as a keeper  
            for the animal control agency's costs of recovering the  
            animal, it may lead to further neglect of abandoned pets.  
              

            SHOULD THE REPORTING PARTY POTENTIALLY BE SUBJECT TO  
            LIABILITY FOR THE ANIMAL CONTROL AGENCY'S COSTS OF  
            RECOVERING THE ANIMAL? 

            WOULD NOT SOME PRIVATE PARTIES, TO AVOID THE COSTS, FAIL  
            TO REPORT OR TRANSPORT THE ANIMAL ELSEWHERE? 

             Suggested amendment:  The private party or successor  
            property owner should be excluded from the definition of  
            keeper for purpose of Section 597.1 of the Penal Code. 

            (For details on the postseizure process afforded to  
            animal owners and details regarding the imposition of the  
            lien upon the animal - see Penal Code Section  
            597.1(f)-(g).) 

           5.  Exempting abandoned animals from the optional  
            disposition procedure is consistent with existing law  

             Under existing law, certain livestock, such as cows,  
            horses, and sheep, are exempted from an optional  
                                                                       




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            procedure that permits a property owner or landlord to  
            dispose of personal property that remains on the premises  
            after a tenancy has terminated and been vacated by the  
            tenant.  (See Civil Code Section 1981(d).) The  
            Legislature enacted this provision to address the need of  
            animal owners that inadvertently leave their livestock at  
            their previous residence or property.  (See AB 2605  
            (Bordonaro), Ch. 653, Stats. 1996.) 

            AB 2949 similarly exempts abandoned animals left on  
            vacated property from the optional disposition procedure.  
               
          Support:  Animal Place; Animal Switchboard; California  
          Federation for Animal
                 Legislation

          Opposition:  None Known 

                                     HISTORY
           
          Source:  California Animal Association; American Society  
          for the Prevention of
                Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) 

          Related Pending Legislation:  None Known 

          Prior Legislation:SB 1785 (Hayden, Ch. 752, Stats. 1998)  
                         imposed, inter alia, a duty to take charge  
                         of involuntarily deposited animals upon  
                         animal shelters and private persons, and  
                         made various declarations and findings  
                         regarding the abandonment of animals.   

          Prior Vote:  Assembly Floor (Ayes 76, Noes 0)
                   Assembly Judiciary Committee (Ayes 10, Noes 0) 

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