Covering the Cost of Care – Seized Animals and County Shelters

MACo’s Legislative Director, Natasha Mehu, testified in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of SB 152 – Criminal Law – Cruelty to Animals – Seizure and Removal.

This bill creates a reasonable process to ensure that an owner or custodian of an animal that has been seized or removed due to cruelty is liable for the cost of care provided to the animal by a local control agency or shelter while in their possession. Costs incurred by county shelters for the seizure, care, and sheltering of neglected or abused animals can stack up quickly…and last for years. SB 152 would require owners – if convicted of animal cruelty – to be responsible for those costs.

From MACo’s testimony:

From the time the animal is seized until it is either forfeited or returned to the owner – which again, could be years – the shelter incurs numerous costs. The seized animals are often suffering from the abuse and neglect of their owners, and are in need of special care. Shelter expenses include seizing, feeding, sheltering, providing medical care, or disposing of the animal. These costs add up quickly and can be quite significant for the local agencies.

SB 152 addresses this issue by providing a mechanism for these impounding agencies to recover the reasonable costs they have incurred. It places a fair burden on the owner to support this care by posting a bond for the costs, but it also provides safeguards for the owner by ensuring they are only liable for these costs if they have been convicted by the court. If they are found not guilty, they are entitled to the return of the bond.

For more on 2019 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.