Amended in Senate May 23, 2016

Amended in Assembly April 12, 2016

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.

This 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, subject to exception, 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, first-class mail, or electronic mail, as specified. By imposing new duties on local seizing and impounding agencies, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

(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, subject to exception, 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.

(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.

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

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: yes.

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
P3    1district without proper care and attention is guilty of a
2misdemeanor. Any peace officer, humane officer, or animal control
3officer shall take possession of the stray or abandoned animal until
4the animal is deemed to be in suitable condition to be returned to
5the owner. When the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that
6very prompt action is required to protect the health or safety of the
7animal or the health or safety of others, the officer shall
8immediately seize the animal and comply with subdivision (f). In
9all other cases, the officer shall comply with the provisions of
10subdivision (g). If the animal is seized, the seizing organization
11or agency shall provide care and treatment for the animal until the
12animal is placed, returned to the owner, or euthanized. The full
13cost of caring for and treating any animal properly seized under
14this subdivision or pursuant to a search warrant shall constitute a
15lien on the animal and the animal shall not be returned to its owner
16until the charges are paid, if the seizure is upheld pursuant to this
17section.

18(2) Notwithstanding any other law, if an animal control officer
19or humane officer, when necessary to protect the health and safety
20of a wild, stray, or abandoned animal or the health and safety of
21others, seeks to administer a tranquilizer that contains a controlled
22substance, as defined in Division 10 (commencing with Section
2311000) of the Health and Safety Code, to gain control of that
24animal, he or she may possess and administer that tranquilizer with
25direct or indirect supervision as determined by a licensed
26veterinarian, provided that the officer has met each of the following
27requirements:

28(A) Has received training in the administration of tranquilizers
29from a licensed veterinarian. The training shall be approved by
30the Veterinary Medical Board.

31(B) Has successfully completed the firearms component of a
32course relating to the exercise of police powers, as set forth in
33Section 832.

34(C) Is authorized by his or her agency or organization to possess
35and administer the tranquilizer in accordance with a policy
36established by the agency or organization and approved by the
37veterinarian who obtained the controlled substance.

38(D) Has successfully completed the euthanasia training set forth
39in Section 2039 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations.

P4    1(E) Has completed a state and federal fingerprinting background
2check and does not have any drug- or alcohol-related convictions.

3(b) Each sick, disabled, infirm, or crippled animal, except a dog
4or cat, that is abandoned in any city, county, city and county, or
5judicial district may be killed by the officer if, after a reasonable
6search, no owner of the animal can be found. It shall be the duty
7of all peace officers, humane officers, and animal control officers
8to cause the animal to be killed or rehabilitated and placed in a
9suitable home on information that the animal is stray or abandoned.
10The officer may likewise take charge of any animal, including a
11dog or cat, that by reason of lameness, sickness, feebleness, or
12neglect, is unfit for the labor it is performing, or that in any other
13manner is being cruelly treated, and provide care and treatment
14for the animal until it is deemed to be in a suitable condition to be
15returned to the owner. When the officer has reasonable grounds
16to believe that very prompt action is required to protect the health
17or safety of an animal or the health or safety of others, the officer
18shall immediately seize the animal and comply with subdivision
19(f). In all other cases, the officer shall comply with subdivision
20(g). The full cost of caring for and treating any animal properly
21seized under this subdivision or pursuant to a search warrant shall
22constitute a lien on the animal and the animal shall not be returned
23to its owner until the charges are paid.

24(c) (1) Any peace officer, humane officer, or animal control
25officer shall convey all injured cats and dogs found without their
26owners in a public place directly to a veterinarian known by the
27officer to be a veterinarian who ordinarily treats dogs and cats for
28a determination of whether the animal shall be immediately and
29humanely destroyed or shall be hospitalized under proper care and
30given emergency treatment.

31(2) If the owner does not redeem the animal within the locally
32prescribed waiting period, the veterinarian may personally perform
33euthanasia on the animal. If the animal is treated and recovers from
34its injuries, the veterinarian may keep the animal for purposes of
35adoption, provided the responsible animal control agency has first
36been contacted and has refused to take possession of the animal.

37(3) Whenever any animal is transferred to a veterinarian in a
38clinic, such as an emergency clinic that is not in continuous
39operation, the veterinarian may, in turn, transfer the animal to an
40appropriate facility.

P5    1(4) If the veterinarian determines that the animal shall be
2hospitalized under proper care and given emergency treatment,
3the costs of any services that are provided pending the owner’s
4inquiry to the responsible agency, department, or society shall be
5paid from the dog license fees, fines, and fees for impounding dogs
6in the city, county, or city and county in which the animal was
7licensed or, if the animal is unlicensed, shall be paid by the
8jurisdiction in which the animal was found, subject to the provision
9that this cost be repaid by the animal’s owner. The full cost of
10caring for and treating any animal seized under this subdivision
11shall constitute a lien on the animal and the animal shall not be
12returned to the owner until the charges are paid. No veterinarian
13shall be criminally or civilly liable for any decision that he or she
14makes or for services that he or she provides pursuant to this
15subdivision.

16(d) An animal control agency that takes possession of an animal
17pursuant to subdivision (c) shall keep records of the whereabouts
18of the animal from the time of possession to the end of the animal’s
19impoundment, and those records shall be available for inspection
20by the public upon request for three years after the date the animal’s
21impoundment ended.

22(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, any
23peace officer, humane officer, or any animal control officer may,
24with the approval of his or her immediate superior, humanely
25destroy any stray or abandoned animal in the field in any case
26where the animal is too severely injured to move or where a
27veterinarian is not available and it would be more humane to
28euthanize the animal.

29(f) Whenever an officer authorized under this section seizes or
30impounds an animal based on a reasonable belief that prompt action
31is required to protect the health or safety of the animal or the health
32or safety of others, the officer shall, prior to the commencement
33of any criminal proceedings authorized by this section, provide
34the owner or keeper of the animal, if known or ascertainable after
35reasonable investigation, with the opportunity for a postseizure
36hearing to determine the validity of the seizure or impoundment,
37or both.

38(1) The agency shall cause a notice to be affixed to a
39conspicuous place where the animal was situated or personally
40deliver a notice of the seizure or impoundment, or both, to the
P6    1owner or keeper within 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays.
2The notice shall include all of the following:

3(A) The name, business address, and telephone number of the
4officer providing the notice.

5(B) A description of the animal seized, including any
6identification upon the animal.

7(C) The authority and purpose for the seizure or impoundment,
8including the time, place, and circumstances under which the
9animal was seized.

10(D) A statement that, in order to receive a postseizure hearing,
11the owner or person authorized to keep the animal, or his or her
12agent, shall request the hearing by signing and returning an
13enclosed declaration of ownership or right to keep the animal to
14the agency providing the notice within 10 days, including weekends
15and holidays, of the date of the notice. The declaration may be
16returned by personal delivery or mail.

17(E) A statement that the full cost of caring for and treating any
18 animal properly seized under this section is a lien on the animal
19and that the animal shall not be returned to the owner until the
20charges are paid, and that failure to request or to attend a scheduled
21hearing shall result in liability for this cost.

22(2) The postseizure hearing shall be conducted within 48 hours
23of the request, excluding weekends and holidays. The seizing
24agency may authorize its own officer or employee to conduct the
25hearing if the hearing officer is not the same person who directed
26the seizure or impoundment of the animal and is not junior in rank
27to that person. The agency may utilize the services of a hearing
28officer from outside the agency for the purposes of complying with
29this section.

30(3) Failure of the owner or keeper, or of his or her agent, to
31 request or to attend a scheduled hearing shall result in a forfeiture
32of any right to a postseizure hearing or right to challenge his or
33her liability for costs incurred.

34(4) The agency, department, or society employing the person
35who directed the seizure shall be responsible for the costs incurred
36for caring and treating the animal, if it is determined in the
37postseizure hearing that the seizing officer did not have reasonable
38grounds to believe very prompt action, including seizure of the
39animal, was required to protect the health or safety of the animal
40or the health or safety of others. If it is determined the seizure was
P7    1justified, the owner or keeper shall be personally liable to the
2seizing agency for the full cost of the seizure and care of the
3animal. The charges for the seizure and care of the animal shall
4be a lien on the animal. The animal shall not be returned to its
5owner until the charges are paid and the owner demonstrates to
6the satisfaction of the seizing agency or the hearing officer that
7the owner can and will provide the necessary care for the animal.

8(g) Where the need for immediate seizure is not present and
9prior to the commencement of any criminal proceedings authorized
10by this section, the agency shall provide the owner or keeper of
11the animal, if known or ascertainable after reasonable investigation,
12with the opportunity for a hearing prior to any seizure or
13impoundment of the animal. The owner shall produce the animal
14at the time of the hearing unless, prior to the hearing, the owner
15has made arrangements with the agency to view the animal upon
16request of the agency, or unless the owner can provide verification
17that the animal was humanely destroyed. Any person who willfully
18fails to produce the animal or provide the verification is guilty of
19an infraction, punishable by a fine of not less than two hundred
20fifty dollars ($250) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000).

21(1) The agency shall cause a notice to be affixed to a
22conspicuous place where the animal was situated or personally
23deliver a notice stating the grounds for believing the animal should
24be seized under subdivision (a) or (b). The notice shall include all
25of the following:

26(A) The name, business address, and telephone number of the
27officer providing the notice.

28(B) A description of the animal to be seized, including any
29identification upon the animal.

30(C) The authority and purpose for the possible seizure or
31impoundment.

32(D) A statement that, in order to receive a hearing prior to any
33seizure, the owner or person authorized to keep the animal, or his
34or her agent, shall request the hearing by signing and returning the
35enclosed declaration of ownership or right to keep the animal to
36 the officer providing the notice within two days, excluding
37weekends and holidays, of the date of the notice.

38(E) A statement that the cost of caring for and treating any
39animal properly seized under this section is a lien on the animal,
40that any animal seized shall not be returned to the owner until the
P8    1charges are paid, and that failure to request or to attend a scheduled
2hearing shall result in a conclusive determination that the animal
3may properly be seized and that the owner shall be liable for the
4charges.

5(2) The preseizure hearing shall be conducted within 48 hours,
6excluding weekends and holidays, after receipt of the request. The
7seizing agency may authorize its own officer or employee to
8conduct the hearing if the hearing officer is not the same person
9who requests the seizure or impoundment of the animal and is not
10junior in rank to that person. The agency may utilize the services
11of a hearing officer from outside the agency for the purposes of
12complying with this section.

13(3) Failure of the owner or keeper, or his or her agent, to request
14or to attend a scheduled hearing shall result in a forfeiture of any
15right to a preseizure hearing or right to challenge his or her liability
16for costs incurred pursuant to this section.

17(4) The hearing officer, after the hearing, may affirm or deny
18the owner’s or keeper’s right to custody of the animal and, if
19reasonable grounds are established, may order the seizure or
20impoundment of the animal for care and treatment.

21(h) (1) If any animal is properly seized or impounded, or both
22seized and impounded, under this section or pursuant to a search
23warrant, the owner or keeper shall be personally liable to the
24seizing agency or impounding agency, or both the seizing agency
25and the impounding agency, for all costs of the seizure or
26impoundment, or both the seizure and impoundment, and care of
27the animal, including all costs associated with the preparation and
28posting of notices and sending of statements of charges in
29accordance with this section.

30(2) An animal lawfully seized pursuant to this section or
31pursuant to a search warrant shall be deemed to be abandoned and
32may be disposed of by the seizing agency if the charges for the
33seizure or impoundment and any other charges permitted under
34this section are not paid within 14 days of service of the notice of
35charges, or if the owner, within 14 days of notice of availability
36of the animal to be returned, fails to pay charges permitted under
37this section and take possession of the animal. An animal properly
38seized under this section or pursuant to a search warrant shall not
39be returned to its owner until the owner can demonstrate to the
40satisfaction of the seizing agency or hearing officer that the owner
P9    1can and will provide the necessary care for the animal. If the animal
2was seized pursuant to a search warrant, express approval of the
3court that issued the warrant or adjudicated the matter shall be
4obtained prior to the release of the animal.

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

7(A) (i) If the animal is seized or impounded pursuant to
8subdivision (f), a statement listing all charges that have accrued
9from the time of an animal’s seizure or impoundment shall be
10presented to the owner or keeper at the time of the postseizure
11hearing. If no postseizure hearing is held, the statement of charges
12shall be presented to the owner or keeper via personal service,
13first-class mail, or electronic mail within two calendar days of the
14expiration of the 10-day period during which an owner or keeper
15may request a hearing specified in subparagraph (D) of paragraph
16(1) of subdivision (f).

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

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, first-class mail, or electronic mail no
25later than five calendar days after the date the animal is seized or
26impounded.

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, first-class mail, or electronic mail. The statements shall
31list all new charges that have accrued during the time of
32impoundment since the last statement was sent or delivered. The
33time period for delivery or mailing the subsequent statements shall
34be at least 14 days from the date of the last statement, 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) A veterinarian may humanely destroy an impounded animal
4without regard to the prescribed holding period when it has been
5determined that the animal has incurred severe injuries or is
6incurably crippled. A veterinarian also may immediately humanely
7destroy an impounded animal afflicted with a serious contagious
8disease unless the owner or his or her agent immediately authorizes
9treatment of the animal by a veterinarian at the expense of the
10owner or agent.

11(j) An animal properly seized under this section or pursuant to
12a search warrant shall not be returned to its owner until the owner
13can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the seizing agency or hearing
14officer that the owner can and will provide the necessary care for
15the animal. If the animal was seized pursuant to a search warrant,
16express approval of the court that issued the warrant or adjudicated
17the matter shall be obtained prior to the release of the animal.

18(k) (1) Prior to the final disposition of any criminal charges,
19the seizing agency or prosecuting attorney may file a petition in a
20criminal action requesting that, prior to that final disposition, the
21court issue an order forfeiting the animal to the city, county, or
22seizing agency. The petitioner shall serve a true copy of the petition
23upon the defendant and the prosecuting attorney.

24(2) Upon receipt of the petition, the court shall set a hearing on
25the petition. The hearing shall be conducted within 14 days after
26the filing of the petition, or as soon as practicable.

27(3) The petitioner shall have the burden of establishing beyond
28a reasonable doubt that, even in the event of an acquittal of the
29criminal charges, the owner will not legally be permitted to retain
30the animal in question. If the court finds that the petitioner has met
31its burden, the court shall order the immediate forfeiture of the
32animal as sought by the petition.

33(4) This section does not authorize a seizing agency or
34prosecuting attorney to file a petition to determine an owner’s
35ability to legally retain an animal pursuant to paragraph (3) of
36subdivision (l) if a petition has previously been filed pursuant to
37this subdivision.

38(l) (1) Upon the conviction of a person charged with a violation
39of this section, or Section 597 or 597a, all animals lawfully seized
40and impounded with respect to the violation shall be adjudged by
P11   1the court to be forfeited and shall thereupon be transferred to the
2impounding officer or appropriate public entity for proper adoption
3or other disposition. A person convicted of a violation of this
4section shall be personally liable to the seizing agency for all costs
5of impoundment from the time of seizure to the time of proper
6disposition. Upon conviction, the court shall order the convicted
7person to make payment to the appropriate public entity for the
8costs incurred in the housing, care, feeding, and treatment of the
9seized or impounded animals. Each person convicted in connection
10with a particular animal may be held jointly and severally liable
11for restitution for that particular animal. The payment shall be in
12addition to any other fine or sentence ordered by the court.

13(2) The court may also order, as a condition of probation, that
14the convicted person be prohibited from owning, possessing, caring
15for, or residing with, animals of any kind, and require the convicted
16person to immediately deliver all animals in his or her possession
17 to a designated public entity for adoption or other lawful disposition
18or provide proof to the court that the person no longer has
19possession, care, or control of any animals. In the event of the
20acquittal or final discharge without conviction of the person
21charged, if the animal is still impounded, the animal has not been
22previously deemed abandoned pursuant to subdivision (h), the
23court has not ordered that the animal be forfeited pursuant to
24subdivision (k), the court shall, on demand, direct the release of
25seized or impounded animals to the defendant upon a showing of
26proof of ownership.

27(3) Any questions regarding ownership shall be determined in
28a separate hearing by the court where the criminal case was finally
29adjudicated and the court shall hear testimony from any persons
30who may assist the court in determining ownership of the animal.
31If the owner is determined to be unknown or the owner is
32prohibited or unable to retain possession of the animals for any
33reason, the court shall order the animals to be released to the
34appropriate public entity for adoption or other lawful disposition.
35This section is not intended to cause the release of any animal,
36bird, reptile, amphibian, or fish seized or impounded pursuant to
37any other statute, ordinance, or municipal regulation. This section
38shall not prohibit the seizure or impoundment of animals as
39evidence as provided for under any other provision of law.

P12   1(m) If the prosecutor’s office with jurisdiction decides not to
2file criminal charges based onbegin delete conduct related toend delete the seizure or
3impoundment of the animal, the prosecutor’s office shall inform
4the seizing or impounding agency of that fact promptly. If the
5animal is still impounded, and the animal has not been previously
6deemed abandoned pursuant to subdivision (h), the seizing or
7impounding agency shall,begin delete not withstandingend deletebegin insert notwithstandingend insert
8 subdivision (j), release the seized or impounded animal to the
9owner upon a showing of proof of ownership.

10(n) It shall be the duty of all peace officers, humane officers,
11and animal control officers to use all currently acceptable methods
12of identification, both electronic and otherwise, to determine the
13lawful owner or caretaker of any seized or impounded animal. It
14shall also be their duty to make reasonable efforts to notify the
15owner or caretaker of the whereabouts of the animal and any
16procedures available for the lawful recovery of the animal and,
17upon the owner’s and caretaker’s initiation of recovery procedures,
18retain custody of the animal for a reasonable period of time to
19allow for completion of the recovery process. Efforts to locate or
20contact the owner or caretaker and communications with persons
21claiming to be the owner or caretaker shall be recorded and
22maintained and be made available for public inspection.

23

SEC. 2.  

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
24Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
25a local agency or school district has the authority to levy service
26charges, fees, or assessments sufficient to pay for the program or
27level of service mandated by this act, within the meaning of Section
2817556 of the Government Code.



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