BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                             Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session

          AB 2278 (Linder) - Animal control:  seizure of animals:  costs
          
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          |Version: May 23, 2016           |Policy Vote: PUB. S. 7 - 0      |
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          |Urgency: No                     |Mandate: Yes                    |
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          |Hearing Date: August 1, 2016    |Consultant: Jolie Onodera       |
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          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. 

          Bill  
          Summary:  AB 2278 would clarify and revise procedures related to  
          the seizure or impoundment of animals, including but not limited  
          to the notification to animal owners regarding hearings and the  
          payment of costs when an animal is seized or impounded, as  
          specified. 


          Fiscal  
          Impact:  
            Recoverable local agency costs  :  Potentially significant  
            increase in non-reimbursable local agency costs (Local Funds)  
            for the seizure, impoundment, care and treatment of animals,  
            and the sending of statements of charges, to be reimbursed by  
            the owners of the seized and impounded animals.
            Potentially unrecoverable local agency costs  :  Potential  
            increase in local agency costs, potentially state reimbursable  
            (General Fund) for the seizure, care and treatment of animals  
            remaining impounded beyond 14 days from the date of seizure  
            for (1) the non-payment of charges, which is extended to 14  
            days from service of the notice of charges; (2) the payment of  
            charges but inability of the owner to guarantee care for the  







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            animal as required for release of the animal to the owner;  
            and, (3) the extended period of impoundment and care pending  
            express approval of the court for animals seized pursuant to a  
            search warrant. 
            Notice of charges process  :  Although the cost of sending the  
            statements of charges is recoverable from the owners, the bill  
            does not specifically provide for the recovery of costs to  
            establish the process of noticing, including the workload  
            required to prepare the initial and subsequent notices. As a  
            result, this provision could be determined to create a higher  
            level of service on local agencies, potentially requiring  
            reimbursement from the state (General Fund) for these  
            additional administrative costs.  


          Background:  Under existing law, an owner of any animal who permits the  
          animal to be in any location without proper care and attention  
          is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Penal Code (PC)  597(a)(1).)
          Existing law provides that a peace officer, humane 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 or safety of the animal or the health or  
          safety of others, the officer is required to immediately seize  
          the animal, and 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. (PC  597.1(a)(1), (f).)


          Under existing law, if an animal is properly seized or pursuant  
          to a search warrant, the owner or keeper is personally liable to  
          the seizing agency for the cost of the seizure and care of the  
          animal. Further, if the charges for the seizure or impoundment  
          and any other charges permitted 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 is deemed to have been abandoned and may be disposed  
          of by the seizing agency. (PC  597.1 (h).)









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          Proposed Law:  
           This bill would both clarify and revise procedures related to  
          the seizure or impoundment of animals, including but not limited  
          to the notification to animal owners regarding hearings and the  
          payment of costs when an animal is seized or impounded.  
          Specifically, 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. [expands upon existing law, which  
               requires care and treatment until the animal is deemed to  
               be in suitable condition to be returned to the owner]

                 Specifies that the owner or keeper of the animal is  
               liable to the seizing agency or impounding agency for the  
               entire cost of the seizure and impoundment of the animal,  
               and care of the animal, including costs associated with  
               preparing and posting notices and sending statements of  
               charges. [existing law only references seizing agency and  
               does not include impounding agency]

                 Requires the seizing agency to present the owner with a  
               "notice of charges," a statement listing all accrued  
               charges for the seizure, impoundment, are care of the  
               animal, either at the postseizure hearing, or by personal  
               service, first class mail, or electronic mail, as  
               specified. [a new requirement]

                 Requires the seizing agency to include in the statement  
               of charges that the animal will be deemed abandoned if  
               charges are not paid within 14 days of service of the  
               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. [a new  
               requirement]

                 Requires the impounding agency to continue to send  
               subsequent notices of additional charges for care of the  
               animal, not less than 14 days but not more than 21 days  
               from the date the last statement was presented, for animals  
               that remain impounded after the initial charges are paid.  
               [a new requirement]








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                 Deletes the existing provision of law that provides that  
               if an 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.

                 Expands authority of a prosecuting attorney to file a  
               petition in a criminal action requesting that, prior to  
               final disposition, the court issue an order forfeiting the  
               animal to the city, county, or seizing agency from cases  
               involving cats and dogs, to cases involving any animal.

                 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. 

                 Requires the prosecutor's office with jurisdiction to  
               inform the seizing or impounding agency if the decision is  
               made not to file criminal charges based on conduct related  
               to the impoundment of the animal. 

                 Requires the animal to be released to the owner if a  
               decision has been made not to file criminal charges, the  
               animal has not otherwise been deemed abandoned, and  
               irrespective of whether the owner can demonstrate that he  
               or she can and will provide the necessary care for the  
               animal.


          Prior  
          Legislation:  SB 1500 (Lieu) Chapter 598/2012 made a number of  
          clarifying changes to provisions dealing with the seizure of  
          animals.


          Staff  
          Comments:  This bill specifies additional procedures with regard  
          to the seizure and impoundment of animals, including more  
          detailed requirements on the notification of charges to animal  
          owners. While some costs related to the seizure, impoundment,  








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          care and treatment of animals will be reimbursed by the owners  
          of the seized and impounded animals, and therefore, are not  
          reimbursable by the state, the portion of costs that are  
          unrecoverable from animal owners under the following  
          circumstances could potentially be subject to mandate  
          reimbursement - the seizure, care and treatment of animals  
          remaining impounded beyond 14 days from the date of seizure for  
          (1) the non-payment of charges, which is extended to 14 days  
          from service of the notice of charges; (2) the payment of  
          charges but inability of the owner to guarantee care for the  
          animal as required for release of the animal to the owner; and,  
          (3) the extended period of impoundment and care pending express  
          approval of the court for animals seized pursuant to a search  
          warrant. 
          Staff notes the Commission on State Mandates in a previous  
          decision on Animal Adoption (98-TC-11) approved reimbursement to  
          local agencies for the costs of care and maintenance for  
          impounded stray or abandoned animals during increased holding  
          periods, including for animals that were ultimately euthanized. 


          Although the cost of sending the statements of charges is  
          recoverable from the owners, the bill does not specifically  
          provide for the recovery of costs to establish the process of  
          noticing, including the workload required to prepare the initial  
          and subsequent notices. As a result, this provision could be  
          determined to create a higher level of service on local  
          agencies, potentially requiring reimbursement from the state  
          (General Fund) for these additional administrative costs.  


          Recommended  
          Amendments:  Several provisions of PC  597.1 make reference to  
          the costs or provision of "care and treatment" of animals, while  
          other provisions make reference to only the costs or provision  
          of "care" of the animal. For consistency, the author may wish to  
          consider the following amendments to PC  597.1:
          (f) (4) The agency, department, or society employing the person  
          who directed the seizure shall be responsible for the costs  
          incurred for caring and treating the animal, if it is determined  
          in the postseizure hearing that the seizing officer did not have  
          reasonable grounds to believe very prompt action, including  
          seizure of the animal, was required to protect the health or  
          safety of the animal or the health or safety of others. If it is  








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          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   seizure, care, and treatment  of the animal.  
          The charges for the  seizure and care   seizure, care and treatment  
           of the animal shall be a lien on the animal. The 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.


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


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




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