BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                             Senator Loni Hancock, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:    AB 2278       Hearing Date:    June 21, 2016    
          
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          |Author:    |Linder                                               |
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          |Version:   |May 23, 2016                                         |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|MK                                                   |
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                Subject:  Animal Control:  Seizure of Animals:  Costs



          HISTORY

          Source:   State Humane Association of California

          Prior Legislation:SB 1500 (Lieu) - Chapter 598, Stats. 2012
                         AB 243 (Nava) - Vetoed 2009
                         SB 318 (Calderon) - Chapter 302, Stats. 2009

          Support:  California Police Chiefs Association

          Opposition:None known

          Assembly Floor Vote:                 79 - 0


          PURPOSE
          

          The purpose of this bill is to clarify the procedures for  
          notification of animal owners regarding hearings and payment of  
          costs when an animal is seized or impounded.

          Existing law states that ever person who willfully abandons any  
          animal is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Penal Code  597s.) 








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          Existing law provides that any peace officer, humane society  
          officer, or animal control officer shall take possession of a  
          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. (Penal Code  597.1 (a).)

          Existing law specifies that when the officer has reasonable  
          grounds to believe that very prompt action is required to  
          protect the health and safety of the stray or abandoned animal,  
          or others the officer shall immediately seize the animal. (Penal  
          Code  597.1 (a).) 

          Existing law states that the owner of a seized animal is liable  
          for the full cost of caring and treating the animal, that these  
          costs will be considered a lien on the animal, and that the  
          animal will not be returned until the charges are paid, if the  
          seizure is upheld. (Penal Code  597.1(a) and (b).) 

          Existing law requires any peace officer, humane society officer,  
          or animal control officer to take all injured cats and dogs  
          found without their owners in a public place to a veterinarian  
          who ordinarily treats dogs and cats for a determination of  
          whether the animal shall be immediately and humanely destroyed  
          or shall be hospitalized under proper care and given emergency  
          treatment. (Penal Code  597.1 (c)(1).) 

          Existing law specifies that if the owner does not redeem the dog  
          or cat that has been seized, as specified, within the locally  
          prescribed waiting period, the veterinarian may personally  
          perform euthanasia on the animal, or if the animal is treated  
          and recovers from its injuries, the veterinarian may keep the  
          animal for purposes of adoption, provided the responsible animal  
          control agency has first been contacted and has refused to take  
          possession of the animal. (Penal Code  597.1 (c)(2).) 

          Existing law states that if the veterinarian provides medical  
          treatment to a dog or cat that has been seized, as specified,  
          the full costs the full cost of caring for and treating that  
          animal shall constitute a lien on the animal and the animal  
          shall not be returned to the owner until the charges are paid.  
          (Penal Code  597.1(c)(4).)

          Existing law provides that any peace officer, humane society  
          officer, or any animal control officer may, with the approval of  








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          his or her immediate superior, humanely destroy any stray or  
          abandoned animal in the field in any case where the animal is  
          too severely injured to move or where a veterinarian is not  
          available and it would be more humane to euthanize the animal.  
          (Penal Code  597.1 (e).)

          Existing law states that whenever an officer seizes an animal as  
          specified, the officer shall, prior to the commencement of any  
          criminal proceedings, provide the owner or keeper of the animal,  
          if known or ascertainable after reasonable investigation, with  
          the opportunity for a postseizure hearing to determine the  
          validity of the seizure or impoundment, or both. (Penal Code   
          597.1, (f).) 

          Existing law sets forth the notice requirements for  
          animal-seizure hearings. (Penal Code  597.1 (f) and (g).) 

          Existing law specifies that in order to receive a postseizure  
          hearing, the owner or person authorized to keep the animal, or  
          his or her agent, must request the hearing by signing and  
          returning a declaration of ownership or right to keep the animal  
          to the agency providing the notice within 10 days, including  
          weekends and holidays, of the date of the notice. (Penal Code   
          597.1 (f)(1)(D).) 

          Existing law requires the postseizure hearing be conducted  
          within 48 hours of the request, excluding weekends and holidays.  
          (Penal Code  597.1, subd. (f)(2).) 

          Existing law states that failure of the owner or keeper, or of  
          his or her agent, to request or to attend a scheduled hearing  
          shall result in a forfeiture of any right to a postseizure  
          hearing or right to challenge his or her liability for costs  
          incurred. (Penal Code  597.1 (f)(3).) 

          Existing law specifies that if it is determined in the  
          postseizure hearing that the seizing officer did not have  
          reasonable grounds seize the animal, the agency that seized the  
          animal shall be responsible for the costs incurred for caring  
          and treating the animal. (Penal Code  597.1(f)(4).) 

          Existing law states that if it is determined the seizure was  
          justified, the owner or keeper shall be personally liable to the  
          seizing agency for the full cost of the seizure and care of the  








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          animal, and the costs for the seizure and care of the animal  
          shall be a lien on the animal. (Penal Code  597.1, (f)(4).) 

          Existing law provides that an animal determined to be a legally  
          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 for the animal. (Penal Code  
           597.1 (f)(4).) 

          Existing law specifies that a preseizure hearing shall be  
          conducted within 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays,  
          after receipt of the request. (Penal Code  597.1 (g)(2).) 

          Existing law states that failure of the owner or keeper, or his  
          or her agent, to request or to attend a scheduled preseizure  
          hearing shall result in a forfeiture of any right to a  
          preseizure hearing or right to challenge his or her liability  
          for costs incurred pursuant to this section. (Penal Code  597.1  
          (g)(3).) 

          Existing law states that the hearing officer, after the  
          preseizure hearing, may affirm or deny the owner's or keeper's  
          right to custody of the animal and, if reasonable grounds are  
          established, may order the seizure or impoundment of the animal  
          for care and treatment. (Penal Code  597.1(g)(4).) 

          Existing law provides that if the charges for the seizure, and  
          any other permitted charges 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 take possession of the animal,  
          the animal shall be deemed to have been abandoned and may be  
          disposed of by the seizing agency. (Penal Code  597.1(h).) 

          Existing law states that if the animal requires veterinary care  
          and the humane society or public agency is not assured, within  
          14 days of the seizure of the animal, that the owner will  
          provide the necessary care, the animal shall not be returned to  
          its owner and shall be deemed to have been abandoned and may be  
          disposed of by the seizing agency. (Penal Code  597.1 (i).) 

          Existing law provides that a veterinarian may humanely destroy  
          an impounded animal without regard to the prescribed holding  








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          period when it has been determined that the animal has incurred  
          severe injuries or is incurably crippled. (Penal Code  597.1  
          (i).) 

          Existing law states that in the case of cats and dogs, 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 the court issue an order forfeiting the  
          animal to the city, county, or seizing agency. (Penal Code   
          597.1 (k)(1).) 

          Existing law disallows the return of a seized animal to the  
          owner until the seizing agency or hearing officer determines  
          that the animal is physically fit or until the owner shows to  
          the satisfaction of the hearing officer or seizing agency that  
          the owner can and will provide necessary care. (Penal Code   
          597.1 (j).) 




          Existing law states that person convicted of a violation of this  
          section by causing or permitting an act of cruelty, as  
          specified, shall be liable to the impounding officer for all  
          costs of impoundment from the time of seizure to the time of  
          proper disposition. (Pen. Code,  597 (g).)

           This bill requires a seizing agency to provide care and  
          treatment for a seized animal until the animal is placed,  
          returned to the owner, or euthanized. 

          This bill 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.  


          This bill requires the seizing agency to provide the owner of  
          the animal with the opportunity for a postseizure hearing to  
          determine the validity of the seizure. 

          This bill requires the seizing agency to post notice of  
          postseizure hearing rights where the animal was seized, or  
          personally deliver notice of postseizure hearing rights  








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          personally to the owner. 

          This bill specifies that in order to receive a post seizure  
          hearing the owner must request the hearing within 10 days of  
          notice. 

          This bill 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. 

          This bill 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. 

          This bill requires the impounding agency to continue to send  
          notices of additional charges for care of the animals, at the  
          discretion of the agency, not less than 14, and not to exceed 21  
          days from the date the last statement was presented.

          This bill requires 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. 

          This bill provides the same requirements for notice of monetary  
          charges and abandonment if the animal is seized after a  
          preseizure hearing. 

          This bill requires the prosecutor's office to inform the seizing  
          agency if they decide not to file criminal charges based on  
          conduct related to the impoundment of the animal. 

          This bill states that the animal will be released to the owner  
          if a decision has been made not to file criminal charges and the  
          animal has not otherwise been deemed abandoned.





                    RECEIVERSHIP/OVERCROWDING CRISIS AGGRAVATION








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          For the past several years this Committee has scrutinized  
          legislation referred to its jurisdiction for any potential  
          impact on prison overcrowding.  Mindful of the United States  
          Supreme Court ruling and federal court orders relating to the  
          state's ability to provide a constitutional level of health care  
          to its inmate population and the related issue of prison  
          overcrowding, this Committee has applied its "ROCA" policy as a  
          content-neutral, provisional measure necessary to ensure that  
          the Legislature does not erode progress in reducing prison  
          overcrowding.   

          On February 10, 2014, the federal court ordered California to  
          reduce its in-state adult institution population to 137.5% of  
          design capacity by February 28, 2016, as follows:   

                 143% of design bed capacity by June 30, 2014;
                 141.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2015; and,
                 137.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2016. 

          In December of 2015 the administration reported that as "of  
          December 9, 2015, 112,510 inmates were housed in the State's 34  
          adult institutions, which amounts to 136.0% of design bed  
          capacity, and 5,264 inmates were housed in out-of-state  
          facilities.  The current population is 1,212 inmates below the  
          final court-ordered population benchmark of 137.5% of design bed  
          capacity, and has been under that benchmark since February  
          2015."  (Defendants' December 2015 Status Report in Response to  
          February 10, 2014 Order, 2:90-cv-00520 KJM DAD PC, 3-Judge  
          Court, Coleman v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (fn. omitted).)  One  
          year ago, 115,826 inmates were housed in the State's 34 adult  
          institutions, which amounted to 140.0% of design bed capacity,  
          and 8,864 inmates were housed in out-of-state facilities.   
          (Defendants' December 2014 Status Report in Response to February  
          10, 2014 Order, 2:90-cv-00520 KJM DAD PC, 3-Judge Court, Coleman  
          v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (fn. omitted).)  
           
          While significant gains have been made in reducing the prison  
          population, the state must stabilize these advances and  
          demonstrate to the federal court that California has in place  
          the "durable solution" to prison overcrowding "consistently  
          demanded" by the court.  (Opinion Re: Order Granting in Part and  
          Denying in Part Defendants' Request For Extension of December  
          31, 2013 Deadline, NO. 2:90-cv-0520 LKK DAD (PC), 3-Judge Court,  








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          Coleman v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (2-10-14).  The Committee's  
          consideration of bills that may impact the prison population  
          therefore will be informed by the following questions:

              Whether a proposal erodes a measure which has contributed  
               to reducing the prison population;
              Whether a proposal addresses a major area of public safety  
               or criminal activity for which there is no other  
               reasonable, appropriate remedy;
              Whether a proposal addresses a crime which is directly  
               dangerous to the physical safety of others for which there  
               is no other reasonably appropriate sanction; 
              Whether a proposal corrects a constitutional problem or  
               legislative drafting error; and
              Whether a proposal proposes penalties which are  
               proportionate, and cannot be achieved through any other  
               reasonably appropriate remedy.

          

          COMMENTS
                                          
          1.  Need for This Bill
          
          According to the author:

               Due to the way in which PC 597.1(h) is written - and  
               the absence of clear instructions to animal  
               control/humane societies regarding what they should do  
               after an animal is seized - thousands of animals across  
               the state are held unnecessarily in shelters for long  
               periods of times.  This situation creates problems for  
               the animals, the shelter staff, and agencies' already  
               scarce resources.

          2.  Procedures for Seizing Animals
          
          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. (Penal Code Section 597.1(a),(b).) Authorities can also  
          obtain a warrant upon a showing of probable cause, and then  








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          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. (Penal Code Section 597.1(g).) 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. (Ibid.) Depending on the findings  
          made at the preseizure hearing, the animal can be seized and  
          held at that point. 

          3.  Administrative Hearings in Animal Seizures 
          
          Under existing law, Peace Officers, Humane Society Officers, or  
          Animal Control Officers must take possession of the stray or  
          abandoned animal when the officer has reasonable grounds to  
          believe that very prompt action is required to protect the  
          health or safety of the animal. Once the animal is seized, it is  
          taken to a veterinarian, shelter, or clinic to be treated and  
          housed.  Notice must be posted, or mailed, to give any owner an  
          opportunity for a post seizure hearing. The owner must request a  
          post seizure hearing within 10 calendar days from the date of  
          notice, or loses the opportunity for a hearing. The purpose of  
          the hearing is to determine if the seizure or impoundment of the  
          animal was valid.  If the seizure is upheld the owner is  
          responsible for the costs of care and treatment of the animal.  
          Those costs are a lien against the animal. If the owner fails to  
          pay the costs of the seizure and animal care within 14 days of  
          the seizure the animal shall be deemed abandoned and may be  
          placed, or the seizing agency can make other arrangements for  
          the animal. 

          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. This bill provides such guidelines.

                                      -- END --








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