Bill in Full:
PRIOR PRINTER'S NO. 4026
PRINTER'S NO. 4059
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
INTRODUCED BY ELLIS, MAHER, STEPHENS, BAKER, CALTAGIRONE, CHRISTIANA, CLYMER, D. COSTA, P. COSTA, DeLUCA, DiGIROLAMO, J. EVANS, GEIST, GERGELY, GIBBONS, GOODMAN, HESS, KAUFFMAN, KILLION, MAHONEY, MANN, MARSHALL, MARSICO, MILLARD, MILNE, MOUL, MUNDY, MUSTIO, O'NEILL, PEIFER, PICKETT, QUIGLEY, ROCK, ROSS, SABATINA, STABACK, SWANGER, TOBASH, WATERS AND WATSON, SEPTEMBER 21, 2012
AS REPORTED FROM COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND RURAL AFFAIRS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AS AMENDED, SEPTEMBER 24, 2012
Providing for actions for costs of care of seized animals.
The General Assembly finds and declares that:
(1) Owners of animals have a duty of care.
(2) Because of this duty of care, owners of animals are responsible for the costs of caring for those animals and that responsibility continues if those animals are duly seized.
(3) The General Assembly has enacted 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511 (relating to cruelty to animals) relating to cruelty to animals which can lead to seizure of animals.
(4) Neither 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511 nor this act pertains to activity undertaken in normal agricultural operations.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Costs of Care of Seized Animals Act.
Section 2. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this act shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Costs order." A court order to pay reasonable costs of care issued under section 5(e).
"Defendant." A person charged with a violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511 (relating to cruelty to animals).
"Normal agricultural operation." As defined under 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511(q) (relating to cruelty to animals).
"Petition." A petition for reasonable costs of care for any animal seized under 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511 (relating to cruelty to animals).
"Petitioner." A person or entity that files a petition under this act.
"Reasonable costs of care." The reasonable costs of caring for seized animals, including the provision of food, water, shelter and medical care, beginning at the date of the seizure and continuing until the earlier of one of the following:
(1) At least 30 days following a hearing on a petition for costs of care.
(2) The seized animals are no longer under the control of the petitioner.
(3) The owner and defendant have relinquished all interests in the seized animals.
"Respondent." Any of the following:
(1) A defendant.
(2) An owner of a seized animal.
"Society or association." A nonprofit society or association duly incorporated under 15 Pa.C.S. Ch. 53 Subch. A (relating to incorporation generally) for the purpose of the prevention of cruelty to animals.
Section 3. Petition for reasonable costs of care.
(a) Filing.‑‑If animals are seized under 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511 (relating to cruelty to animals), a petition may be filed, with the SAME magisterial district court if WHERE related criminal charges have been filed, by any of the following:
(1) A county or municipal official.
(2) A society or association or other similar incorporated nonprofit organization providing care for the animals.
(b) Time.‑‑A petition may not be filed later than the entry of final judgment on the related criminal charge for a violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511.
Section 4. Respondents.
(a) Defendant.‑‑Not later than five days after filing a petition under section 3, the petitioner shall serve the petition on the defendant by personal service or by registered mail to any of the following:
(1) The defendant's mailing address.
(2) The place of business of the defendant's counsel.
(3) The detention facility where the defendant is incarcerated.
(b) Owner.‑‑The petitioner shall serve the petition on the owner of a seized animal if all of the following apply:
(1) The petitioner is aware that the defendant is not the owner of the seized animals.
(2) The petitioner is aware of the owner's location.
Section 5. Hearing.
(a) Date.‑‑Upon receipt of a petition, the court shall set a date for a hearing to determine the responsibility of a respondent for reasonable costs of care.
(b) Time.‑‑A hearing under subsection (a) shall be scheduled not less than seven days but not more than 14 days from the service of the petition on the respondent.
(c) Evidence.‑‑At the hearing, the petitioner shall present evidence that demonstrates the amount of reasonable costs of care for the seized animals and that the seizure was warranted.
(d) Objection.‑‑All respondents shall have the opportunity at the hearing to object to the petition.
(e) Costs order.‑‑
(1) Not later than five days after the commencement of the hearing, the court shall issue an order granting or changing DENYING the petition. If the court grants the petition, the order shall include the amount of reasonable costs of care to be paid by the respondent.
(2) The costs order shall include a schedule of monthly payments for costs of care to be paid by the respondent beginning 30 days after the initial payment designated in the order under paragraph (1). Payments shall continue until termination under section 7. The respondents' ability to pay shall not affect the court's determination as to the amount of the reasonable costs of care.
Section 6. Payment of reasonable expenses.
(a) General rule.‑‑Not later than five days after service of the costs order, the respondent shall deposit the ordered amount with the clerk of courts. The respondent shall make payments thereafter under the costs order until termination under section 7.
(b) Nonpayment.‑‑If a respondent subject to a costs order fails to timely pay any of the amounts ordered, the following shall apply:
(1) A seized animal for which reasonable costs of care were ordered shall be automatically forfeited, by operation of law, to the petitioner.
(2) The petitioner shall obtain all rights and privileges in and over the animals.
(c) Adjustment.‑‑The court, upon motion by a petitioner or respondent and after a hearing consistent with section 5, may adjust the amount of reasonable costs of care.
(d) Disbursement.‑‑After deposit of the funds under subsection (a), the clerk of the courts shall disburse the funds to the petitioner. Disbursement of the funds shall not prevent the petitioner from doing any of the following:
(1) Providing necessary medical care, including euthanizing any seized animal. The petitioner may euthanize a seized animal if the petitioner obtains a written opinion from a licensed veterinarian who states it is necessary to alleviate the animal's suffering.
(2) Transferring a seized animal if any of the following apply:
(i) The court orders the transfer.
(ii) The defendant or owner of the animal surrenders all rights to the animal.
Section 7. Termination of costs order.
(a) Time.‑‑A costs order shall be terminated upon the occurrence of any of the following:
(1) The issuance of a final judgment on the criminal charge for a violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511 (relating to cruelty to animals).
(2) The defendant or owner of the animals surrendering all rights to the animals.
(3) The seized animals being no longer under the control of the petitioner.
(b) Remittance.‑‑No earlier than the issuance of the final order on the related criminal charge for a violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511, any unused portion of reasonable costs of care remaining after full payment in accordance with a costs order shall be remitted to the defendant or owner.
Section 8. Examination.
Notwithstanding any other rights under 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511 (relating to cruelty to animals) and not later than the commencement of the hearing under section 5, the defendant or owner of the animal shall have one opportunity to examine the seized animal for the purposes of preserving evidence. The examination shall be completed in the presence of a law enforcement officer.
Section 9. Immunity.
A petitioner shall be immune from civil liability for damages alleged by a defendant or owner concerning the care provided by the petitioner.
Section 10. Applicability.
Nothing in this act shall apply to animals used for activities undertaken in a normal agricultural operation.
Section 30. Effective date.
This act shall take effect in 60 days.