Amended in Assembly March 28, 2016

California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 2278


Introduced by Assembly Member Linder

February 18, 2016


An act to amend Section 597.1 of the Penal Code, relating to animals.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 2278, as amended, Linder. Animal control: seizure of animals: costs.

(1) Existing law requires a peace officer, humane society officer, or animal control officer to take possession of a stray or abandoned animal, or any animal when the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that very prompt action is required to protect the health and safety of the animal or the health and safety of others. In the case of taking possession of a stray or abandoned animal, existing law requires the officer to provide care and treatment for the animal until the animal is deemed to be in suitable condition to be returned to the owner.

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This bill would allow, but not require, a peace officer, humane society officer, or animal control officer to take possession of an animal in the above circumstances. The

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begin insertThisend insert bill would require a seizing organization or entity to provide care and treatment for a seized animal until the animal is placed, returned to the owner, or euthanized.

(2) Existing law requires the owner or keeper of an animal that is properly seized to be personally liable to the seizing agency for the cost of the seizure and care of the animal.

This bill would make the owner or keeper of the animal liable to the seizing agency, and if the animal is impounded, to the impounding agency, for the entire cost of the seizure or impoundment of the animal, including costs associated with preparing and posting notices and sending statements of charges. The bill would require the seizing and impounding agency to present the owner with a statement listing all accrued charges, as provided, either at the postseizure hearing or by personal service,begin delete first classend deletebegin insert first-classend insert mail, or electronic mail, as specified.begin insert By imposing new duties on local seizing and impounding agencies, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.end insert

(3) Existing law permits the return of an animal only when 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 would require that if the animal was seized pursuant to a search warrant that the court that issued or adjudicated the warrant give its express approval prior to the release of the animal to the owner.

(4) Existing law makes it a misdemeanor for every owner, driver, or keeper of an animal to permit 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. Existing law, in cases involving cats and dogs, allows a seizing entity or prosecuting attorney to file a petition in a criminal action to request that the court issue an order forfeiting an animal prior to the final disposition of the case.

This bill would make the above provision applicable to any animal.

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(5) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

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This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

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Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: begin deleteno end deletebegin insertyesend insert.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1

SECTION 1.  

Section 597.1 of the Penal Code is amended to
2read:

3

597.1.  

(a) (1) Each owner, driver, or keeper of any animal
4who permits the animal to be in any building, enclosure, lane,
5street, square, or lot of any city, county, city and county, or judicial
6district without proper care and attention is guilty of a
P3    1misdemeanor. Any peace officer, humane officer, or animal control
2officerbegin delete mayend deletebegin insert shallend insert take possession of the stray or abandoned animal
3until the animal is deemed to be in suitable condition to be returned
4to the owner. When the officer has reasonable grounds to believe
5that very prompt action is required to protect the health or safety
6of the animal or the health or safety of others, the officerbegin delete mayend deletebegin insert shallend insert
7 immediately seize the animal and comply with subdivision (f). In
8all other cases, the officer shall comply with the provisions of
9subdivision (g). If the animal is seized, the seizing organization
10or agency shall provide care and treatment for the animal until the
11animal is placed, returned to the owner, or euthanized. The full
12cost of caring for and treating any animal properly seized under
13this subdivision or pursuant to a search warrant shall constitute a
14lien on the animal and the animal shall not be returned to its owner
15until the charges are paid, if the seizure is upheld pursuant to this
16section.

17(2) Notwithstanding any other law, if an animal control officer
18or humane officer, when necessary to protect the health and safety
19of a wild, stray, or abandoned animal or the health and safety of
20others, seeks to administer a tranquilizer that contains a controlled
21substance, as defined in Division 10 (commencing with Section
2211000) of the Health and Safety Code, to gain control of that
23animal, he or she may possess and administer that tranquilizer with
24direct or indirect supervision as determined by a licensed
25veterinarian, provided that the officer has met each of the following
26requirements:

27(A) Has received training in the administration of tranquilizers
28from a licensed veterinarian. The training shall be approved by
29the Veterinary Medical Board.

30(B) Has successfully completed the firearms component of a
31course relating to the exercise of police powers, as set forth in
32Section 832.

33(C) Is authorized by his or her agency or organization to possess
34and administer the tranquilizer in accordance with a policy
35established by the agency or organization and approved by the
36veterinarian who obtained the controlled substance.

37(D) Has successfully completed the euthanasia training set forth
38in Section 2039 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations.

39(E) Has completed a state and federal fingerprinting background
40check and does not have any drug- or alcohol-related convictions.

P4    1(b) Each sick, disabled, infirm, or crippled animal, except a dog
2or cat, that is abandoned in any city, county, city and county, or
3judicial district may be killed by the officer if, after a reasonable
4search, no owner of the animal can be found. It shall be the duty
5of all peace officers, humane officers, and animal control officers
6to cause the animal to be killed or rehabilitated and placed in a
7suitable home on information that the animal is stray or abandoned.
8The officer may likewise take charge of any animal, including a
9dog or cat, that by reason of lameness, sickness, feebleness, or
10neglect, is unfit for the labor it is performing, or that in any other
11manner is being cruelly treated, and provide care and treatment
12for the animal until it is deemed to be in a suitable condition to be
13returned to the owner. When the officer has reasonable grounds
14to believe that very prompt action is required to protect the health
15or safety of an animal or the health or safety of others, the officer
16shall immediately seize the animal and comply with subdivision
17(f). In all other cases, the officer shall comply with subdivision
18(g). The full cost of caring for and treating any animal properly
19seized under this subdivision or pursuant to a search warrant shall
20constitute a lien on the animal and the animal shall not be returned
21to its owner until the charges are paid.

22(c) (1) Any peace officer, humane officer, or animal control
23officer shall convey all injured cats and dogs found without their
24owners in a public place directly to a veterinarian known by the
25officer to be a veterinarian who ordinarily treats dogs and cats for
26 a determination of whether the animal shall be immediately and
27humanely destroyed or shall be hospitalized under proper care and
28given emergency treatment.

29(2) If the owner does not redeem the animal within the locally
30prescribed waiting period, the veterinarian may personally perform
31euthanasia on the animal. If the animal is treated and recovers from
32its injuries, the veterinarian may keep the animal for purposes of
33adoption, provided the responsible animal control agency has first
34been contacted and has refused to take possession of the animal.

35(3) Whenever any animal is transferred to a veterinarian in a
36clinic, such as an emergency clinic that is not in continuous
37operation, the veterinarian may, in turn, transfer the animal to an
38appropriate facility.

39(4) If the veterinarian determines that the animal shall be
40hospitalized under proper care and given emergency treatment,
P5    1the costs of any services that are provided pending the owner’s
2inquiry to the responsible agency, department, or society shall be
3paid from the dog license fees, fines, and fees for impounding dogs
4in the city, county, or city and county in which the animal was
5licensed or, if the animal is unlicensed, shall be paid by the
6jurisdiction in which the animal was found, subject to the provision
7that this cost be repaid by the animal’s owner. The full cost of
8caring for and treating any animal seized under this subdivision
9shall constitute a lien on the animal and the animal shall not be
10returned to the owner until the charges are paid. No veterinarian
11shall be criminally or civilly liable for any decision that he or she
12makes or for services that he or she provides pursuant to this
13subdivision.

14(d) An animal control agency that takes possession of an animal
15pursuant to subdivision (c) shall keep records of the whereabouts
16of the animal from the time of possession to the end of the animal’s
17impoundment, and those records shall be available for inspection
18by the public upon request for three years after the date the animal’s
19impoundment ended.

20(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, any
21peace officer, humane officer, or any animal control officer may,
22with the approval of his or her immediate superior, humanely
23destroy any stray or abandoned animal in the field in any case
24where the animal is too severely injured to move or where a
25veterinarian is not available and it would be more humane to
26euthanize the animal.

27(f) Whenever an officer authorized under this section seizes or
28impounds an animal based on a reasonable belief that prompt action
29is required to protect the health or safety of the animal or the health
30or safety of others, the officer shall, prior to the commencement
31of any criminal proceedings authorized by this section, provide
32the owner or keeper of the animal, if known or ascertainable after
33reasonable investigation, with the opportunity for a postseizure
34hearing to determine the validity of the seizure or impoundment,
35or both.

36(1) The agency shall cause a notice to be affixed to a
37conspicuous place where the animal was situated or personally
38deliver a notice of the seizure or impoundment, or both, to the
39owner or keeper within 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays.
40The notice shall include all of the following:

P6    1(A) The name, business address, and telephone number of the
2officer providing the notice.

3(B) A description of the animal seized, including any
4identification upon the animal.

5(C) The authority and purpose for the seizure or impoundment,
6including the time, place, and circumstances under which the
7animal was seized.

8(D) A statement that, in order to receive a postseizure hearing,
9the owner or person authorized to keep the animal, or his or her
10agent, shall request the hearing by signing and returning an
11enclosed declaration of ownership or right to keep the animal to
12the agency providing the notice within 10 days, including weekends
13and holidays, of the date of the notice. The declaration may be
14returned by personal delivery or mail.

15(E) A statement that the full cost of caring for and treating any
16 animal properly seized under this section is a lien on the animal
17and that the animal shall not be returned to the owner until the
18charges are paid, and that failure to request or to attend a scheduled
19hearing shall result in liability for this cost.

20(2) The postseizure hearing shall be conducted within 48 hours
21of the request, excluding weekends and holidays. The seizing
22agency may authorize its own officer or employee to conduct the
23hearing if the hearing officer is not the same person who directed
24the seizure or impoundment of the animal and is not junior in rank
25to that person. The agency may utilize the services of a hearing
26officer from outside the agency for the purposes of complying with
27this section.

28(3) Failure of the owner or keeper, or of his or her agent, to
29 request or to attend a scheduled hearing shall result in a forfeiture
30of any right to a postseizure hearing or right to challenge his or
31her liability for costs incurred.

32(4) The agency, department, or society employing the person
33who directed the seizure shall be responsible for the costs incurred
34for caring and treating the animal, if it is determined in the
35postseizure hearing that the seizing officer did not have reasonable
36grounds to believe very prompt action, including seizure of the
37animal, was required to protect the health or safety of the animal
38or the health or safety of others. If it is determined the seizure was
39justified, the owner or keeper shall be personally liable to the
40seizing agency for the full cost of the seizure and care of the
P7    1animal. The charges for the seizure and care of the animal shall
2be a lien on the animal. The animal shall not be returned to its
3owner until the charges are paid and the owner demonstrates to
4the satisfaction of the seizing agency or the hearing officer that
5the owner can and will provide the necessary care for the animal.

6(g) Where the need for immediate seizure is not present and
7prior to the commencement of any criminal proceedings authorized
8by this section, the agency shall provide the owner or keeper of
9the animal, if known or ascertainable after reasonable investigation,
10with the opportunity for a hearing prior to any seizure or
11impoundment of the animal. The owner shall produce the animal
12at the time of the hearing unless, prior to the hearing, the owner
13has made arrangements with the agency to view the animal upon
14request of the agency, or unless the owner can provide verification
15that the animal was humanely destroyed. Any person who willfully
16fails to produce the animal or provide the verification is guilty of
17an infraction, punishable by a fine of not less than two hundred
18fifty dollars ($250) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000).

19(1) The agency shall cause a notice to be affixed to a
20conspicuous place where the animal was situated or personally
21deliver a notice stating the grounds for believing the animal should
22be seized under subdivision (a) or (b). The notice shall include all
23of the following:

24(A) The name, business address, and telephone number of the
25officer providing the notice.

26(B) A description of the animal to be seized, including any
27identification upon the animal.

28(C) The authority and purpose for the possible seizure or
29impoundment.

30(D) A statement that, in order to receive a hearing prior to any
31seizure, the owner or person authorized to keep the animal, or his
32or her agent, shall request the hearing by signing and returning the
33enclosed declaration of ownership or right to keep the animal to
34 the officer providing the notice within two days, excluding
35weekends and holidays, of the date of the notice.

36(E) A statement that the cost of caring for and treating any
37animal properly seized under this section is a lien on the animal,
38that any animal seized shall not be returned to the owner until the
39charges are paid, and that failure to request or to attend a scheduled
40hearing shall result in a conclusive determination that the animal
P8    1may properly be seized and that the owner shall be liable for the
2charges.

3(2) The preseizure hearing shall be conducted within 48 hours,
4excluding weekends and holidays, after receipt of the request. The
5seizing agency may authorize its own officer or employee to
6conduct the hearing if the hearing officer is not the same person
7who requests the seizure or impoundment of the animal and is not
8junior in rank to that person. The agency may utilize the services
9of a hearing officer from outside the agency for the purposes of
10complying with this section.

11(3) Failure of the owner or keeper, or his or her agent, to request
12or to attend a scheduled hearing shall result in a forfeiture of any
13right to a preseizure hearing or right to challenge his or her liability
14for costs incurred pursuant to this section.

15(4) The hearing officer, after the hearing, may affirm or deny
16the owner’s or keeper’s right to custody of the animal and, if
17reasonable grounds are established, may order the seizure or
18impoundment of the animal for care and treatment.

19(h) (1) If any animal is properly seized or impounded, or both
20seized and impounded, under this section or pursuant to a search
21warrant, the owner or keeper shall be personally liable to the
22seizing agency or impounding agency, or both the seizing agency
23and the impounding agency, for all cost of the seizure or
24impoundment, or both the seizure and impoundment, and care of
25the animal, including all costs associated with the preparation and
26posting of notices and sending of statements of charges in
27accordance with this section.

28(2) An animal lawfully seized pursuant to this section or
29pursuant to a search warrant shall be deemed to be abandoned and
30may be disposed of by the seizing agency if the charges for the
31seizure or impoundment and any other charges permitted under
32this section are not paid within 14 days of the seizure or
33impoundment, or if the owner, within 14 days of notice of
34availability of the animal to be returned, fails to pay charges
35permitted under this section and take possession of the animal.begin insert An
36animal properly seized under this section or pursuant to a search
37warrant shall not be returned to its owner until the owner can
38demonstrate to the satisfaction of the seizing agency or hearing
39officer that the owner can and will provide the necessary care for
40the animal. If the animal was seized pursuant to a search warrant,
P9    1express approval of the court that issued the warrant or
2adjudicated the matter shall be obtained prior to the release of
3the animal.end insert

4(3) Notice of charges for the seizure, impoundment, and care
5of the animal pursuant to this section shall be executed as follows:

6(A) (i) If the animal is seized or impounded pursuant to
7subdivision (f), a statement listing all charges that have accrued
8from the time of an animal’s seizure or impoundment shall be
9presented to the owner or keeper at the time of the postseizure
10hearing. If no postseizure hearing is held, the statement of charges
11shall be presented to the owner or keeper via personal service,begin delete first
12classend delete
begin insert first-classend insert mail, or electronic mail within two calendar days
13of the expiration of the 10-day period during which an owner or
14keeper may request a hearing specified in subparagraph (D) of
15paragraph (1) of subdivision (f).

16(ii) If the animal is seized or impounded following the issuance
17of a preseizure notice pursuant to subdivision (g), a statement
18listing all charges shall be presented to the owner or keeper via
19personal service,begin delete first classend deletebegin insert first-classend insert mail, or electronic mail no
20later than five calendar days after the date the animal is seized or
21impounded.

22(iii) If the animal is seized pursuant to a search warrant, a
23statement listing all charges shall be presented to the owner or
24keeper via personal service,begin delete first classend deletebegin insert first-classend insert mail, or electronic
25mail no later than five calendar days after the date the animal is
26seized or impounded.

27(B) If the charges are paid and the animal remains impounded,
28the impounding agency shall continue to present statements of
29charges to the owner or keeper on an ongoing basis via personal
30service,begin delete first classend deletebegin insert first-classend insert mail, or electronic mail. The
31statements shall list all new charges that have accrued during the
32time of impoundment since the last statement was sent or delivered.
33The time period for delivery or mailing the subsequent statements
34shall be at the discretion of the impounding agency, but shall not
35exceed 21 days from the date the last statement was presented.

36(C) The statement of charges specified in subparagraph (A) and
37any subsequent statements specified in subparagraph (B) shall
38include a notice that the animal will be deemed abandoned if
39charges are not paid within 14 days of service, and that payment
P10   1of fees does not guarantee the release of the animal, but does allow
2the owner or keeper to retain an ownership interest in the animal.

3(i) If the animal requires veterinary care and the humane society
4or public agency is not assured, within 14 days of the seizure of
5the animal, that the owner will provide the necessary care, the
6animal shall not be returned to its owner and shall be deemed to
7have been abandoned and may be disposed of by the seizing
8agency. A veterinarian may humanely destroy an impounded
9animal without regard to the prescribed holding period when it has
10been determined that the animal has incurred severe injuries or is
11incurably crippled. A veterinarian also may immediately humanely
12destroy an impounded animal afflicted with a serious contagious
13disease unless the owner or his or her agent immediately authorizes
14treatment of the animal by a veterinarian at the expense of the
15owner or agent.

16(j) An animal properly seized under this section or pursuant to
17a search warrant shall not be returned to its owner until the owner
18can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the seizing agency or hearing
19officer that the owner can and will provide the necessary care for
20the animal. If the animal was seized pursuant to a search warrant,
21express approval of the court that issued the warrant or adjudicated
22the matter shall be obtained prior to the release of the animal.

23(k) (1) Prior to the final disposition of any criminal charges,
24the seizing agency or prosecuting attorney may file a petition in a
25criminal action requesting that, prior to that final disposition, the
26court issue an order forfeiting the animal to the city, county, or
27seizing agency. The petitioner shall serve a true copy of the petition
28upon the defendant and the prosecuting attorney.

29(2) Upon receipt of the petition, the court shall set a hearing on
30the petition. The hearing shall be conducted within 14 days after
31the filing of the petition, or as soon as practicable.

32(3) The petitioner shall have the burden of establishing beyond
33a reasonable doubt that, even in the event of an acquittal of the
34criminal charges, the owner will not legally be permitted to retain
35the animal in question. If the court finds that the petitioner has met
36its burden, the court shall order the immediate forfeiture of the
37animal as sought by the petition.

38(4) This section does not authorize a seizing agency or
39prosecuting attorney to file a petition to determine an owner’s
40ability to legally retain an animal pursuant to paragraph (3) of
P11   1subdivision (l) if a petition has previously been filed pursuant to
2this subdivision.

3(l) (1) Upon the conviction of a person charged with a violation
4of this section, or Section 597 or 597a, all animals lawfully seized
5and impounded with respect to the violation shall be adjudged by
6the court to be forfeited and shall thereupon be transferred to the
7impounding officer or appropriate public entity for proper adoption
8or other disposition. A person convicted of a violation of this
9section shall be personally liable to the seizing agency for all costs
10of impoundment from the time of seizure to the time of proper
11disposition. Upon conviction, the court shall order the convicted
12person to make payment to the appropriate public entity for the
13costs incurred in the housing, care, feeding, and treatment of the
14seized or impounded animals. Each person convicted in connection
15with a particular animal may be held jointly and severally liable
16for restitution for that particular animal. The payment shall be in
17addition to any other fine or sentence ordered by the court.

18(2) The court may also order, as a condition of probation, that
19the convicted person be prohibited from owning, possessing, caring
20for, or residing with, animals of any kind, and require the convicted
21person to immediately deliver all animals in his or her possession
22to a designated public entity for adoption or other lawful disposition
23or provide proof to the court that the person no longer has
24possession, care, or control of any animals. In the event of the
25acquittal or final discharge without conviction of the person
26charged, if the animal is still impounded, the animal has not been
27previously deemed abandoned pursuant to subdivision (h), the
28court has not ordered that the animal be forfeited pursuant to
29subdivision (k), the court shall, on demand, direct the release of
30seized or impounded animals to the defendant upon a showing of
31proof of ownership.

32(3) Any questions regarding ownership shall be determined in
33a separate hearing by the court where the criminal case was finally
34adjudicated and the court shall hear testimony from any persons
35who may assist the court in determining ownership of the animal.
36If the owner is determined to be unknown or the owner is
37prohibited or unable to retain possession of the animals for any
38reason, the court shall order the animals to be released to the
39appropriate public entity for adoption or other lawful disposition.
40This section is not intended to cause the release of any animal,
P12   1bird, reptile, amphibian, or fish seized or impounded pursuant to
2any other statute, ordinance, or municipal regulation. This section
3shall not prohibit the seizure or impoundment of animals as
4evidence as provided for under any other provision of law.

5(m) It shall be the duty of all peace officers, humane officers,
6and animal control officers to use all currently acceptable methods
7of identification, both electronic and otherwise, to determine the
8lawful owner or caretaker of any seized or impounded animal. It
9shall also be their duty to make reasonable efforts to notify the
10owner or caretaker of the whereabouts of the animal and any
11procedures available for the lawful recovery of the animal and,
12upon the owner’s and caretaker’s initiation of recovery procedures,
13retain custody of the animal for a reasonable period of time to
14allow for completion of the recovery process. Efforts to locate or
15contact the owner or caretaker and communications with persons
16claiming to be the owner or caretaker shall be recorded and
17maintained and be made available for public inspection.

18begin insert

begin insertSEC. 2.end insert  

end insert
begin insert

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
19Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
20a local agency or school district has the authority to levy service
21charges, fees, or assessments sufficient to pay for the program or
22level of service mandated by this act, within the meaning of Section
2317556 of the Government Code.

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