Nobody WANTS to kill animals – CA Law Edition

CA state Senator Ted Lieu sponsored a pet related, HSUS backed bill that was signed by the governor in September and will take effect January 1, 2013.  Senator’s Lieu’s website makes the bill sound pretty good:

Neglected or injured animals will no longer be returned to abusive owners[.]

Pretty good, yes?  Hold your applause.

The bill purportedly fixes a “loophole” in existing CA law which allows for the return of seized pets under certain circumstances:

Specifically, the law states mistreated animals must be returned to the owner if the animal is physically fit or the owner can and will provide the necessary care for the animal. Because these hearings typically occur weeks after an animal has been seized, the animal is almost always “fit” due to the care provided by the animal-control agency. This means the agencies are then forced to return animals to the same harmful environment where they had been abused.

I am not seeing a loophole here.  What I see is a poorly worded law that allows a sluggish court system to dictate when the assessment of the abused animal is made.  It could be fixed by speeding up the wheels of justice (not likely) or by simply wording it such that the assessment of the animal is made at time of seizure.  The new law does nothing to address the time of assessment but rather replaces the “or” with “and”, requiring pets to be fit and the owner to demonstrate ability to provide care before a seized pet is returned.  I have to wonder how prosecutors in CA are able to secure animal cruelty convictions if assessments of the animals’ health are not made until the court case comes up on the docket.  This makes no sense to me and the new bill does not fix it.

In addition, the bill “would allow a seizing agency or a prosecutor to file a petition in the criminal action requesting that the court issue an order forfeiting the animal(s) to the county or seizing agency prior to final disposition of the criminal charge. [emphasis added]  The reasons given for this change are:

  • The cost of housing seized animals at the pound.
  • The cruelty of keeping seized animals in cages for an extended period of time.
  • The fact that pounds “have to” kill other pets for space taken up by the seized animals.
  • If the accused owner lives in an area with a pet limit law and has more than the allowed number of pets seized, the owner won’t legally be able to keep all the pets anyway, regardless of the outcome of the case.

This is a bunch of baloney.  It’s all a fancy way of saying that shelters aren’t doing their jobs therefore the state should be able to seize and dispose of property (pets) as it deems fit, regardless of the owner’s right to due process.

No shelter “has to” kill healthy/treatable pets.  Many don’t, in fact.  Only the ones that choose to kill do so.  If an owner is simply over the pet limit and not found guilty of animal cruelty, the owner should have first option to place as many pets as needed to come into compliance with the law.  Animal control can offer to assist with placement but no pet killing facility should be able to legally take ownership of someone’s well cared for pets without due process.

Furthermore, I see nothing to protect the lives of the seized animals and no mechanism to return the legally allowed number of pets to the accused owner.  It looks as if the law will allow the pound, or the state, to simply take every animal from a home and give the owner nothing in return, even if he is acquitted.

Thanks Senator Lieu and HSUS for another backwards law enabling shelters to kill more animals, even ones whose owners love and want them, under the guise of animal protection.  How humane.  We are the real humane society – small h, small sJoin us.

(Thanks Jan for alerting me to this bill.)

 

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15 Comments

  1. Vicki Aucremanne

     /  December 28, 2012

    Sounds like this law is in bed with the pkf’s and limit law creators. lovely…giving them more reason to do as they do best – KILL!

    Reply
  2. mikken

     /  December 28, 2012

    Sigh. The HSUS doesn’t even seem to be trying very hard any more to hide the fact that they are totally cool with shelters killing animals left and right. I really hope people wise up and stop giving them money. They won’t change until they feel the pinch in their substantial wallet…

    Reply
  3. This is the actual verbiage of the added portion:

    (k) (1) 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, prior to that final disposition, the court issue an
    order forfeiting the animal to the city, county, or seizing agency.
    The petitioner shall serve a true copy of the petition upon the
    defendant and the prosecuting attorney.
    (2) Upon receipt of the petition, the court shall set a hearing on
    the petition. The hearing shall be conducted within 14 days after
    the filing of the petition, or as soon as practicable.
    (3) The petitioner shall have the burden of establishing beyond a
    reasonable doubt that, even in the event of an acquittal of the
    criminal charges, the owner will not legally be permitted to retain
    the animal in question. If the court finds that the petitioner has
    met its burden, the court shall order the immediate forfeiture of the
    animal as sought by the petition.
    (4) Nothing in this subdivision is intended to authorize a
    seizing agency or prosecuting attorney to file a petition to
    determine an owner’s ability to legally retain an animal pursuant to
    paragraph (3) of subdivision (l) if a petition has previously been
    filed pursuant to this subdivision.

    I seriously doubt this is going to result in a bazillion dearly loved companion animals being relinquished into the custody of the seizing agency. If there is more than sufficient evidence for a judge to relinquish custody, then it is up to the judge’s discretion and the evidence presenting skills of the seizing agency. The evidence must be beyond a reasonable doubt. This is not unreasonable. Since criminal proceedings can and do take months, sometimes more than a year, if there is clear-cut evidence that would allow animals to be relinquished to the seizing agency’s custody sooner, that’s great.

    Proving beyond a reasonable doubt that, despite an acquittal, this animal cannot be returned to the custody of his guardian is not going to be easy. In fact, I will be surprised if this petition option is used frequently (except perhaps in cases where people are over the legal limit…but in those cases, barring any issues of severe neglect, they don’t generally end up in court). But it is an option to alleviate the suffering of individual animals who languish in municipal shelters for months, sometimes years, while the slow wheels of (in)/justice putter on. I am certainly interested in seeing how shelters take advantage of this law, but I will be even more surprised if most shelters do!

    Reply
    • alice in lala land

       /  December 28, 2012

      It isn’t the idea that the law “may” be used in the way to “help ” animals or whether they end up in court.or even the frequency of the use of the law ( why pass laws that are not needed). It is about the law itself. This law allows for the disposition of the animals to take place BEFORE the courts decision . Can you imagine your pet being seized.. maybe because of a disgruntled neighbor reporting you are ‘abusing” your dog.. your dog has an old injury .. say he limps.. if the ACO’s seize your dog .. and find that you have “abused’ the dog because it limps.. they can petition the courts to take position of your dog BEFORE you come to trial or most likely settle..it is not about what is easy.. it is about what is right. You can bet that if dogs are seized and they are ‘adoptable’ this law will come into play. as for dogs “suffering” in shelters.. that does not happen .. does it.. Ted Lieu states that this law is necessary because shelters take such good care of dogs that they look much better after the seizure..
      Clear cut evidence still needs to be brought to court.

      Reply
      • “Clear cut evidence still needs to be brought to court.”

        Then you should have no problem with this amendment. Clear-cut evidence has to be brought to court before a relinquishment is granted. Beyond a reasonable doubt, yo.

  4. alice in lala land

     /  December 28, 2012

    that is not the way the law reads. animals can be relinquished or forfeited.. or just taken for ‘adoption” before the person is proved to be either guilty or innocent. How can ‘clear cut evidence ” be given when the person charged has not had a day in court to refute the evidence?
    If your cars is impounded.. they do not sell it before you are found innocent or guilty of charges relating to the automobile.
    While this may not cause a ‘bazillion” dogs to be taken under this law.. even one is too many

    Reply
    • Marji

       /  December 30, 2012

      The law states that petitioners have to provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. That is as clear cut as “proof” one can get, legally. So if that is your concern, then it should be alleviated by language that makes it pretty difficult for a petitioner to just willy-nilly take beloved companion animals from wrongly accused guardians.

      Reply
  5. alice in lala land

     /  December 28, 2012

    and one thing more..will this law REALLY help “shelter dogs’ be taken from the shelter into new homes.. isn’t that the premise of this? or just give shelters another excuse to kill more dogs?

    Reply
  6. KarenJ

     /  December 28, 2012

    Yet another LAW? A LAW? This si BS. This is NOT how LAW is supposed to be written – the impetus for LAW to be written…And here we are again…Citizens NOT being involved at the core level in their government ALLOWS these Animal Haters to continue to dictate and control the lives and deaths of animals…AND humans!

    Reply
  7. mary francis

     /  December 28, 2012

    I think I’m quoting correctly, Martin Luther King, Jr., from the Birmingham Jail wrote,

    “Law and order exists for the purpose of establishing justice. When they fail in this purpose, they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”

    No doubt it was a battle then – and no doubt its a battle now.

    Reply
  8. bealsie2

     /  December 29, 2012

    I think rather than Texas seceding, we should encourage California to secede. They have no respect for or belief in the Constitution anyway

    Reply
  9. I’m sorry to be so negative today. But living in a California County (Sonoma) that breaks the law all the time and gets away with it. Hayden’s Law looks good from the outside, but it is broken by dysfunctional Shelters all over the State of California and absolutely nothing happens….No worries. And right now, we are waiting to see how the state handles complaints filed by us on our County. But not holding out for much hope…Let me tell you how my County tells these laws and any new ones really just don’t matter. One woman, that the neighbors complained about over and over again. ACO’s never even bothered to go to her property just wrote the complaints as “cleared”. When Sonoma County finally decided to do something just in time for their annual report to look good in front of the Supervisors. They broke every law in confiscating the dogs from this Rescue Group. That were all healthy, fed, shelter and loved. What happened then? 60 dogs from the Shelter were killed inside the Shelter. And the following Hayden Laws were broken:

    1. No pre seizure hearing notice (Hayden’s Law 48 hours notice).
    2. This woman did not relinquish her own dogs, but the County took them any way.
    3. The County killed these non relinquished dogs (violated Haydens Law).
    4. Never notified the owner that her own dogs were killed, I did. We were just checking to make sure the dogs were being taken care. It did not enter our heads that the dogs would be killed. I did not even know this woman.
    5. None of these dogs should have left the County or been killed as they are part of a Court hearing, yet they are all gone and this case as yet to go to Court. Just part of evidence collection.
    6. A bona fide 501c3 Rescue put a “Rescue Hold” on these personal dogs that were not relinquished to the County. Yet the County went ahead and killed them. Once again violating Haydens Law.
    6. These dogs were all healthy when they entered SCACC and then got sick after they entered SCACC with kennel cough.
    7. ACO and another employee entered the property during the investigation. The other employee lied to the owner saying he was an advocate.
    8. And I told the Supervisors in my 3 minutes on a Tuesday about all the laws broken. Do they care? Not really, the Redhead, Supervisor Zane, just glares at you…Please don’t waste my time…

    Director Amy Cooper, famous for “blameshifting” said the DA gave her permission to kill the dogs and when I questioned her (in a very heated argument). She even said it was okay for me to tell this owner her dogs were killed, because I was her friend.

    This is just one County in California, Sonoma. There much worse, San Bernardino, Modesto County, Los Angeles, Yolo and Monterey. The list goes on.

    Reply
  10. An yes, the not caring for your animal so we can seize it. By whose testimony? The paid experts for the state, HSUS, ASPCA, PETA? Or the country vet you see when it’s serious or comes out to your place when called because its easier than taking in 20 animals to be checked on. Oh and don’t forget every day each animal must have its medical record, cage card updated and initialed. Oh that litter of kittens that could have had their second shot in two weeks, but had some diaherrah so you were waiting for it to clear- oops wrong- improper treatment – so says the arbitrary rules set up by whatever agency wants to shut you down, take your animals, confess ate your assets to pay for their actions- and if you fight for the life of any of the animals you have in rescue, well they will then bring criminal animal cruelty charges against you.
    I am not saying Caboodle Ranch was/wasn’t deserving of what happened to it- but hundreds of animals lost their lives. And Florida lost another sanctuary – which are being shut down everywhere when a rescue can’t fight the joined forces of the big boys and government.
    And I agree 100% with Vicky Brown on how the “system” works and it’s not even close to fair, equal, or sane.

    Reply
    • Jim

       /  December 31, 2012

      Maybe HSUS lawyers will attempt to gain custody of the animals so they can bill the locality for their expenses. They did this in the Florida 700 cat hoarding case, extracting an inflated sum of around $700,000. HSUS provided far less assistance than other groups and spent most of the money on themselves. Plus, they raised tons of money off the case from the day of the seizure to the day the case was adjudicated.

      If they are so concerned about the cost of providing care for seized pets, why not open their wallets and take care of those expenses?

      Reply

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