BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 2278


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          Date of Hearing:  April 27, 2016


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                               Lorena Gonzalez, Chair


          AB  
          2278 (Linder) - As Amended April 12, 2016


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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  YesReimbursable:   
          Yes


          SUMMARY:


          This bill clarifies procedures for notification of animal owners  
          regarding hearings and payment of costs when an animal is seized  
          or impounded.  Specifically, this bill:


          1)Specifies that when there are reasonable grounds to believe  
            that very prompt action is required to protect the health or  
            safety of an animal or the health or safety of others, the  
            animal shall be seized immediately and the agency must provide  
            care and treatment of the animal until the animal is placed,  
            returned to the owner, or euthanized.








                                                                    AB 2278


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          2)Specifies that the owner or keeper of the animal is liable to  
            the seizing 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, and requires specified notices be provided to the  
            owners regarding these monetary charges.

          3)Provides a postseizure hearing process to determine the  
            validity of the seizure.

          4)Requires the seizing 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.



          5)Requires the seizing agency to provide notice that the animal  
            will be deemed abandoned if charges are not paid within 14  
            days of service of notice of charges, and that the payment of  
            fees does not guarantee the release of the animal, but does  
            allow the owner to retain an ownership interest in the animal.




          FISCAL EFFECT:


          Unknown costs to local agencies, to be reimbursed by the owners  
          of the seized animals.  However, this bill could result in  
          unknown reimbursable state mandated costs if the seizing agency  
          is unable to recover its cost from the owner after 14 days. 


          COMMENTS:










                                                                    AB 2278


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          1)Background.  An animal can be seized in several different  
            ways.  A peace officer, humane society officer, or animal  
            control officer can seize a stray or abandoned animal if he or  
            she has reasonable grounds to believe that prompt action is  
            required to protect the health or safety of the animal or the  
            health or safety of others.  Authorities can also obtain a  
            warrant upon a showing of probable cause, and then seize the  
            animal pursuant to the warrant.  


            There is also an option to seize an animal after a hearing if  
            animal control observes unsuitable conditions, but these  
            conditions do not rise to the level of exigent circumstances  
            (i.e., the need for immediate seizure is not present).  Animal  
            control can conduct a hearing prior to seizure of the animal  
            and before criminal proceedings for animal abuse or neglect  
            commence.  In this situation, the owner must produce the  
            animal at the time of the hearing, unless before the hearing  
            he or she allowed the agency to view the animal or unless the  
            owner can provide verification that the animal was already  
            humanely destroyed.  This hearing is referred to as a  
            preseizure hearing.  Depending on the findings made at the  
            preseizure hearing, the animal can be seized and held at that  
            point.  


          2)Purpose.  According to the author, "AB 2278 clean ups current  
            law by clarifying the 14-day notice language and provide that  
            all animals seized for alleged abuse are eligible for  
            mandatory forfeiture after a court hearing. By making these  
            changes we can help avoid any undue suffering to animals that  
            are in shelters as well as avoid any unanticipated cost to the  
            owner."


            Current law does not provide clear guidelines for the seizing  
            agency to provide notice to the owner of the animal regarding  
            payment of costs and when an animal is deemed abandoned by the  
            owner.  AB 2278 provides such guidelines.








                                                                    AB 2278


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          3)Support:  According to The State Humane Association of  
            California, the proposed changes in AB 2278 are not meant to  
            undermine or redirect the statute's original purpose of  
            existing law that animal shelters rely on to deal with animal  
            cruelty and neglect. Rather it is meant to clarify the rights  
            and responsibilities of both owners and agencies when an  
            animal is seized for abuse or neglect.


          4)Prior Legislation:

             a)   SB 1500 (Lieu), Chapter 598, Statutes of 2012, allows  
               pre-conviction forfeiture of an individual's seized animals  
               in animal abuse and neglect cases.

             b)   SB 318 (Calderon), Chapter 302, Statutes of 2009,  
               provided for the forfeiture of any property interest that  
               was either acquired through the commission of dogfighting,  
               or used to promote, further or facilitate dogfighting.




          Analysis Prepared by:Pedro Reyes / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081