BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó



                                                                      



           ------------------------------------------------------------ 
          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                  SB 1500|
          |Office of Senate Floor Analyses   |                         |
          |1020 N Street, Suite 524          |                         |
          |(916) 651-1520         Fax: (916) |                         |
          |327-4478                          |                         |
           ------------------------------------------------------------ 
           
                                         
                              UNFINISHED BUSINESS


          Bill No:  SB 1500
          Author:   Lieu (D)
          Amended:  8/6/12
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE  :  7-0, 4/17/12
          AYES:  Hancock, Anderson, Calderon, Harman, Liu, Price, 
            Steinberg

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8

           SENATE FLOOR  :  39-0, 5/29/12
          AYES:  Alquist, Anderson, Berryhill, Blakeslee, Calderon, 
            Cannella, Corbett, Correa, De León, DeSaulnier, Dutton, 
            Emmerson, Evans, Fuller, Gaines, Hancock, Harman, 
            Hernandez, Huff, Kehoe, La Malfa, Leno, Lieu, Liu, 
            Lowenthal, Negrete McLeod, Padilla, Pavley, Price, Rubio, 
            Simitian, Steinberg, Strickland, Vargas, Walters, Wolk, 
            Wright, Wyland, Yee
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Runner

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  75-0, 8/13/12 - See last page for vote


           SUBJECT  :    Seized and abandoned animals:  full costs:  
          forfeiture

           SOURCE  :     California Animal Control Directors Association
                      Los Angeles County District Attorneys Office


           DIGEST  :    This bill makes a number of clarifying changes 
                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               SB 1500
                                                                Page 
          2

          to provisions dealing with the seizure of animals.

           Assembly Amendments  make technical and clarifying changes 
          that include specifically when an animal may be disposed 
          of.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law creates a misdemeanor punishable 
          by a maximum of one year in the county jail and a fine of 
          not more than $20,000 to maim, mutilate, torture, or wound 
          a living animal or maliciously or intentionally kill an 
          animal.  (Penal Code (PEN) Section 597 (a))

          Existing law states that every person having charge or 
          custody of an animal who overdrives; overloads; overworks; 
          tortures; torments; deprives of necessary sustenance, 
          drink, or shelter; cruelly beats, mutilates, or cruelly 
          kills; or causes or procures any animal to be so 
          overdriven; overloaded; driven when overloaded; overworked; 
          tortured; tormented; deprived of necessary sustenance, 
          drink, shelter; or to be cruelly beaten, mutilated, or 
          cruelly killed is, for every such offense, guilty of a 
          crime punishable as an alternate misdemeanor/felony and by 
          a fine of not more than $20,000.  (PEN Section 597 (b))

          Existing law mandates that whoever carries or causes to be 
          carried in or upon any vehicle or otherwise any domestic 
          animal in a cruel or inhuman manner, or knowingly and 
          willfully authorizes or permits that animal to be subjected 
          to unnecessary torture, suffering, or cruelty of any kind, 
          is guilty of a misdemeanor; and whenever any such person is 
          taken into custody therefore by any officer, such officer 
          must take charge of such vehicle and its contents, together 
          with the horse or team attached to such vehicle, and 
          deposit the same in some place of custody; and any 
          necessary expense incurred for taking care of and keeping 
          the same, is a lien thereon, to be paid before the same can 
          be lawfully recovered; and if such expense, or any part 
          thereof, remains unpaid, it may be recovered, by the person 
          incurring the same, of the owner of such domestic animal, 
          in an action therefor.  (PEN Section 597a)

          Existing law provides that any person who causes any animal 
          to fight with another animal, or permits the same to be 
          done on any property under his/her control, or aids or 

                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               SB 1500
                                                                Page 
          3

          abets the fighting of any animal or is present as a 
          spectator is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 
          six months in the county jail, by a fine not to exceed 
          $1,000, or both.  (PEN Section 597b (a))

          Existing law necessitates that any person who causes a cock 
          to fight with another cock, or permits the same to be done 
          on any property under his or her control, and any person 
          who aids or abets the fighting of any cock or is present as 
          a spectator is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by 
          imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, by 
          a fine not to exceed $5,000, or by both.  (PEN Section 597b 
          (b))

          Existing law makes it unlawful for any person to tie or 
          attach or fasten any live animal to any machine or device 
          propelled by any power for the purpose of causing such 
          animal to be pursued by a dog or dogs.  (PEN Section 597h)

          Existing law directs that any person who owns, possesses, 
          or trains any bird or animal with the intent that the cock 
          or other bird shall be engaged in an exhibition of fighting 
          by his/her vendee or any other person is guilty of a 
          misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in the county jail 
          not to exceed six months, by a fine not to exceed $1,000, 
          or by both.  (PEN Section 597j)

          Existing law states that every person who willfully 
          abandons any animal is guilty of a misdemeanor.  (PEN 
          Section 597s)

          Existing law provides that any person who does any of the 
          following is guilty of a felony and is punishable by 
          imprisonment in a state prison for 16 months, two or three 
          years; by a fine not to exceed $50,000; or by both such 
          fine and imprisonment:

           Owns, possesses, keeps, or trains any dog, with the 
            intent that the dog shall be engaged in an exhibition of 
            fighting with another dog.

           For the amusement or gain, causes any dog to fight with 
            another dog, or causes any dogs to injure each other.


                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               SB 1500
                                                                Page 
          4

           Permits any of the aforementioned acts in violation to be 
            done on any premises under his or her charge or control, 
            or aids or abets that act.  (PEN Section 597.5)

          Existing law declares that every owner, driver, or keeper 
          of any animal who permits the animal to be in any building, 
          enclosure, lane, street, square, or lot of any city, 
          county, city and county or judicial district without proper 
          care and attention is guilty of a misdemeanor.  (PEN 
          Section 597.1 (a))

          Existing law provides that any peace officer, humane 
          society officer, or animal control officer shall take 
          possession of the stray or abandoned animal and shall 
          provide care and treatment for the animal until the animal 
          is deemed to be in suitable condition to be returned to the 
          owner.  When the officer has reasonable grounds to believe 
          that very prompt action is required to protect the health 
          and safety of the animal or others, the officer shall 
          immediately seize the animal.  The cost of caring for and 
          treating the animal seized under this subdivision or 
          pursuant to a search warrant shall constitute a lien on the 
          animal, and the animal shall not be returned to the owner 
          until the charges are paid.  (PEN Section 597.1 (a))

          Existing law generally provides that peace officers, humane 
          officers and animal control officers can take control of a 
          sick or abandoned animal and cause the animal to be killed 
          or treated.  The officer may seize the animal when he or 
          she has reasonable grounds to believe that the seizure is 
          necessary for the safety of the animal or others.  The law 
          further provides that the cost of caring for and treating 
          any animal properly seized under this subdivision or 
          pursuant to a search shall constitute a lien on the animal, 
          and the animal shall not be returned to its owner until the 
          charges are paid.  (PEN Section 597.1 (b))

          Existing law provides that any peace officer, human society 
          officer or animal control officer shall convey all injured 
          cats and dogs found without their owner in a public place 
          directly to a veterinarian.  The cost of caring for and 
          treating any animal seized shall constitute a lien on the 
          animal and the animal shall not be returned to the owner 
          until the charges are paid.  (PEN Section 597.1 (c))

                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               SB 1500
                                                                Page 
          5


          This bill clarifies that when costs are owed they are the 
          "full" costs.
          Existing law sets forth the procedure for seizure and 
          impoundment of an animal including the right to a 
          post-seizure hearing and the requirement that if the 
          seizure was justified the owner or keeper shall be liable 
          to the seizing agency for costs.  (PEN Section 597.1 (f))

          This bill clarifies that when costs are owed, they are the 
          "full" costs.
          Existing law provides that a seized animal shall not be 
          returned to the owner until the  charges are paid and the 
          seizing agency or hearing officer has determined that the 
          animal is physically fit or the owner demonstrates to the 
          seizing agency's or the hearing officer's satisfaction that 
          the owner can and will provide the necessary care.  (PEN 
          Section 597.1(f)(4))

          This bill provides instead that a seized animal shall not 
          be returned to its owner until the charges are paid and the 
          owner demonstrates to the satisfaction of the seizing 
          agency or the hearing officer that the owner can and will 
          provide the necessary care and does not present a danger to 
          the animal.

          Existing law provides that if any animal is properly seized 
          under this section or pursuant to a search warrant, the 
          owner or keeper shall be personally liable to the seizing 
          agency for the cost of the seizure and care of the animal.  
          (PEN Section 597.1(h))

          This bill clarifies that the person shall be liable for the 
          "full" cost of the seizure and care of the animal.
           
          Existing law provides that if the charges for the seizure 
          or impoundment and any other charges permitted under this 
          section are not paid within 14 days of the seizure, or if 
          the owner, within 14 days of notice of availability of the 
          animal to be returned, fails to pay charges permitted under 
          this section and takes possession of the animal, the animal 
          shall be deemed to have been abandoned and may be disposed 
          of by the impounding officer.  (PEN Section 597.1(h))


                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               SB 1500
                                                                Page 
          6

          Existing law provides that if the seized animal requires 
          veterinary care and the humane society is not assured 
          within 14 days of the seizure of the animal, the owner will 
          provide the necessary care, the animal shall not be 
          returned to the owner and shall be deemed to have been 
          abandoned, and may be disposed of by the impounding 
          officer.  (PEN Section 597.1(i))

          This bill instead clarifies that the animal shall be deemed 
          abandoned and may be disposed of by the seizing agency.

          Existing law provides that no animal properly seized under 
          this section or pursuant to a search warrant shall be 
          returned to its owner until, in the determination of the 
          seizing agency or hearing officer, the animal is physically 
          fit or the owner can demonstrate to the seizing agency's or 
          hearing officer's satisfaction that the owner can and will 
          provide the necessary care.  (PEN Section 597.1(j))

          This bill provides instead that no animal seized under this 
          section or pursuant to a search warrant shall be returned 
          to its owner until the owner can demonstrate to the 
          satisfaction of the seizing agency or hearing officer that 
          the owner can and will provide the necessary care for the 
          animal.

          This bill provides that nothing in this subdivision is 
          intended to authorize a seizing agency or prosecuting 
          attorney to file a petition to determine an owner's ability 
          to legally retain an animal if a petition has previously 
          been filed pursuant to this subdivision.

          This bill creates a new subdivision (k) stating  prior to 
          the final disposition of any criminal charges, the seizing 
          agency or prosecuting attorney may file a petition in a 
          criminal action requesting that, prior to that final 
          disposition, the court issue an order forfeiting the animal 
          to the city, county or seizing agency.  The petition shall 
          serve a true copy of the petition upon the defendant and 
          prosecuting attorney.  Upon receipt of the petition, the 
          court shall set a hearing on the petition and it shall be 
          held within 14 days of the filing of the petition, or as 
          soon as possible.  The petition shall have the burden of 
          establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that even 

                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               SB 1500
                                                                Page 
          7

          in the event of an acquittal of the criminal charges, 
          either (1) the owner cannot or will not provide the 
          necessary care for the animal in question, or (2) the owner 
          will not legally be permitted to retain the animal in 
          question.  If the court finds that the petitioner has met 
          its burden by establishing either of the above, the court 
          shall order the immediate forfeiture of the animal as 
          sought by the petition.

          Existing law provides that upon the conviction of a person 
          charged with a violation of animal abuse, all animals 
          lawfully seized and impounded with respect to the violation 
          shall be adjudged by the court to be forfeited and shall 
          thereupon be transferred to the impounding officer or 
          appropriate public entity for proper adoption or other 
          disposition.  The court may also order, as a condition of 
          probation, that the convicted person be prohibited from 
          owning, possessing, caring for, or having any contact with 
          animals of any kind and require the convicted person to 
          immediately deliver all animals in his or her possession to 
          a designated public entity for adoption or other lawful 
          disposition, or provide proof to the court that the person 
          no longer has possession, care, or control of any animals.  
          (PEN Section 597.1 (k))

          This bill renumbers this subdivision to (l) and provides 
          that in the event of the acquittal or final discharge 
          without conviction of the person charged, if the animal is 
          still impounded, the animal has not been previously deemed 
          abandoned and the court has not ordered the animal to be 
          forfeited, the court shall on demand direct the release of 
          seized or impounded animals to the defendant upon a showing 
          of proof of ownership.

          Existing law provides that a person convicted of specified 
          misdemeanor animal abuse sections who owns, possesses, 
          maintains, etc., an animal within five years of conviction 
          is guilty of a public offense punishable by a fine of 
          $1,000.  (PEN Section 597.9(a))

          Existing law provides that a person convicted of specified 
          felony animal abuse sections who owns, possesses, 
          maintains, etc., an animal within 10 years of conviction is 
          guilty of a public offense punishable by a fine of $1,000.  

                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               SB 1500
                                                                Page 
          8

          (PEN Section 597.9(b))

          Existing law provides that in the cases of owners of 
          livestock a court may, in the interest of justice, exempt a 
          defendant from the prohibition of owning animals as it 
          would apply to livestock, if the defendant files a petition 
          with the court to establish that the imposition of the 
          provisions of this section would result in substantial or 
          undue economic hardship to the defendant's livelihood and 
          that the defendant has the ability to properly care for all 
          livestock in his/her possession.  (PEN Section 597.9 
          (c)(1))

          This bill requires the livestock owner to establish by a 
          preponderance of the evidence that the imposition would be 
          a substantial or undue economic hardship.

          Existing law provides that a defendant may petition the 
          court to reduce the duration of the mandatory ownership 
          prohibition.  At a hearing on the petition, the petitioner 
          shall have the burden of establishing probable cause to 
          believe all of the following:

           He/she does not present a danger to animals.

           He/she has the ability to properly care for all animals 
            in his/her possession.

           He/she has successfully completed all classes or 
            counseling ordered by the court.  (PEN Section 597.9 
            (d)(1))

          This bill changes the burden to a preponderance of the 
          evidence.

           Background  

          According to the author's office, in addition to making 
          animal neglect a crime, PEN Section 597.1 describes 
          circumstances under which animals can be seized by either 
          animal control officers or a peace officer, and provides 
          the administrative procedures that must be followed by the 
          seizing agency to ensure the owner's due process rights.  
          Additionally, PEN Section 597.1 grants municipal agencies 

                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               SB 1500
                                                                Page 
          9

          the ability to recover the costs of caring for and housing 
          animals that were seized due to the action (or inaction) of 
          their owners. 

          Every week across the state animal control agencies return 
          animals to owners who have mistreated their animals due to 
          existing language in PEN Section 597.1.  Under current law, 
          an animal must be returned to its owner if the animal is 
          physically fit or the owner demonstrates that they can and 
          will provide necessary care for the animal.  The use of the 
          term "or" results
          in animals who have been nursed back to care by the seizing 
          agency being returned to an owner - who abused the animal 
          resulting in the seizure - because the animal was now fit.  
          The usage of the term "or" has resulted in many animals 
          being returned to the same harmful environments with their 
          abusers.

          After an animal has been seized and the seizure has been 
          deemed to be proper, the seized animal's owner is liable to 
          the seizing agency for the cost of caring for the animal.  
          These costs are considered a lien on the animal. Currently, 
          PEN Section 597.1 is not clear about when an animal control 
          agency is supposed to send out "lien letters" to the seized 
          animal's owner.   Due to this confusion, owners often stop 
          paying the cost of care and treatment of their animal and 
          the animal becomes abandoned.  Yet, the agencies continue 
          to hold animals until a criminal case has ended.  Because 
          of this owner's often receive a one-lump-sum bill, which 
          can be extremely large.  When this happens many owners are 
          unable to pay such a large bill and surrender the animal to 
          the seizing agency which results in many animals being 
          unnecessarily housed in a shelter for months and possibly 
          made unadoptable due to lack of exercise and socialization 
          during its stay in the shelter.  When this happens the 
          animal must be euthanized.

          Current law does not provide a mechanism for the seizing 
          agency or prosecutor to file a petition as part of a 
          criminal action requesting the court order that the 
          animal(s) be forfeited to the petitioning agency prior to 
          the final disposition of the criminal case if no matter the 
          outcome of their criminal case, the owner is not legally 
          entitled to keep the animal (i.e. animal hoarders or owners 

                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               SB 1500
                                                                Page 
          10

          of illegal animals).  This lack of a mechanism results in 
          agencies unnecessarily holding onto animals when they could 
          be adopting them to families or placing them in appropriate 
          facilities (zoos, museums, wild game preserves, etc.).  
          Aside from the cost of holding these animals, it is unfair 
          to the seized animal that is stuck in a cage and results in 
          other animals having to be euthanized due to lack of space.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes   
          Local:  Yes

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  8/15/12)

          California Animal Control Directors Association (co-source)
          Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office (co-source)
          California District Attorneys Association
          City of Long Beach
          Humane Society of the U.S. 

           OPPOSITION  :    (Verified  8/15/12)

          American Herding Breed Association
          California Federation of Dog Clubs 
          California Responsible Pet Owners Coalition

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the author:

            SB 1500 has three primary goals.  

               The first is to fix a loophole regarding the term "or" 
               in Penal Code Section 597.1, that results in abused 
               animals being returned to their owners under the sole 
               condition that the animal is physically fit.  
               Specifically, current law states that at a hearing 
               conducted after the seizure of an animal, the animal 
               may be returned to its owner if it is physically fit 
               or if the owner demonstrates to the seizing agency or 
               hearing officer that the owner can provide the 
               necessary care and does not present a danger to the 
               animal.  The word "or" makes the physical fitness of 
               the animal the sole necessary condition for the return 
               of the animal.  Because these hearings often take 
               place weeks after the initial seizure, the seized 
               animal has often been nursed back to health - thus, 

                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               SB 1500
                                                                Page 
          11

               regardless of the owner's ability to care for/no 
               longer abuse the animal, animal control agencies feel 
               legally obligated to return the animal.  The current 
               in-print version of SB 1500 attempts to fix this 
               loophole by changing the word "or" to "and" in order 
               to make both the physical fitness of the animal and 
                                                                                   the owner's ability to care for it necessary criteria 
               in order to return the animal.  Amendments to SB 1500 
               will change this fix slightly by removing the physical 
               fitness criterion altogether, and requiring return of 
               the animal only if the seizing agency or hearing 
               officer determines that the owner can and will provide 
               the necessary care.

               The second goal of the bill is to make clear the 
               fiscal responsibilities and procedures associated with 
               the costs of housing a seized animal.  This bill 
               modifies the term "costs" for seizing agencies to 
               cover for the care and treatment of the animal by 
               amending the language to cover the "full cost".  This 
               clarifying amendment eliminates any ambiguity as to 
               what part the owner of the animal is required to pay 
               and restates the Legislature's intent to place the 
               financial responsibility with the owner.  Also, this 
               bill clarifies the lien procedure for payment that 
               ensures collection of payment while also protecting 
               the accused's right.

               The final goal of SB 1500 is to address problems of 
               housing animals taken in as part of certain types of 
               criminal proceedings.  Current law stipulates that 
               individuals or households may only own a certain 
               number of specified animals.  Other kinds of pet 
               ownership are outlawed entirely.  In cases where 
               "hoarders," people who collect unlawful numbers of 
               animals, or in cases where people own illegal exotic 
               pets, even if the owner is eventually acquitted of 
               criminal charges brought against them, they will not 
               be legally allowed to keep (most of) their animals.  
               However, since the animals are evidence in a criminal 
               case, the shelter must continue to hold them until the 
               cessation of criminal proceedings, and cannot adopt 
               them to other owners or donate exotic animals to zoos. 
                These seized animals take up valuable shelter space, 

                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               SB 1500
                                                                Page 
          12

               and other healthy, adoptable animals that come to the 
               shelter are often euthanized unnecessarily due to the 
               lack of space.  SB 1500 would change would allow an 
               agency or prosecutor to request a hearing, during 
               which a judge will determine whether, even in the 
               event of an acquittal, either the owner cannot or will 
               not provide the necessary care for the animals or that 
               the owner will not legally be permitted to retain the 
               animals in question.  The agency or prosecutor would 
               have the burden of establishing either of these points 
               by a preponderance of the evidence.

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :    The California Federation of 
          Dog Clubs argues:

            This bill would allow for unprecedented abuse by agencies 
            empowered with animal seizure authority.  Public or 
            private animal agencies would be granted the status of 
            judge, jury and executioner in cases related to animals.  
            Animal owners will be subject to capricious deprivation 
            of their constitutional right to maintain ownership of 
            their property.  Even animal owners who are acquitted of 
            the charges against them may be denied the return of 
            their animal, depending on the whim of the seizing 
            agency.  We can bet that agents who have already decided 
            that animals need to be removed from an owner's care will 
            not be willing to return those animals even in the case 
            of subsequent dismissal or acquittal.

            This bill further declares that the owner or keeper is 
            not entitled to an administrative postseizure hearing 
            with the seizing agency.  It expands on the 
            unconstitutional tenets of last session's AB 1117 
            (Smyth), which requires "additional showings" for animal 
            owners to retrieve animals that were unjustly seized.

            These assaults on ownership rights are being 
            incrementally presented by the radical animal rights 
            group, the Humane Society of the US, which is an avowed 
            anti-hunting, anti-farming, and anti-animal ownership 
            group.  The California Federation of Dog Clubs, as a 
            grassroots group dedicated to preserving the human animal 
            bond in our state, finds such proposals a blatant affront 
            to the principles of due process in justice and 

                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               SB 1500
                                                                Page 
          13

            protection of individual rights upon which our country 
            was founded.  
           

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  : 75-0, 08/13/12
          AYES: Achadjian, Alejo, Allen, Ammiano, Atkins, Beall, Bill 
            Berryhill, Block, Blumenfield, Bonilla, Bradford, 
            Brownley, Butler, Charles Calderon, Campos, Carter, 
            Cedillo, Chesbro, Conway, Cook, Davis, Dickinson, Eng, 
            Feuer, Fletcher, Fong, Fuentes, Furutani, Beth Gaines, 
            Galgiani, Garrick, Gatto, Gordon, Gorell, Grove, Hagman, 
            Halderman, Hall, Harkey, Hayashi, Roger Hernández, Hill, 
            Huber, Hueso, Huffman, Jeffries, Jones, Knight, Lara, 
            Logue, Bonnie Lowenthal, Ma, Mendoza, Miller, Mitchell, 
            Monning, Morrell, Nestande, Nielsen, Norby, Olsen, Pan, 
            Perea, V. Manuel Pérez, Portantino, Silva, Skinner, 
            Smyth, Solorio, Swanson, Torres, Wagner, Wieckowski, 
            Williams, Yamada
          NO VOTE RECORDED: Buchanan, Donnelly, Mansoor, Valadao, 
            John A. Pérez


          RJG:m  8/15/12   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

                                ****  END  ****
          

















                                                           CONTINUED