(a) Every owner, driver, or possessor of any animal, who permits the animal to be in any building, enclosure, lane, street, square, or lot, of any city, city and county, or judicial district, without proper care and attention, shall, on conviction, be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. And it shall be the duty of any peace officer, officer of the humane society, or officer of an animal shelter or animal regulation department of a public agency, to take possession of the animal so abandoned or neglected and care for the animal until it is redeemed by the owner or claimant, and the cost of caring for the animal shall be a lien on the animal until the charges are paid. Every sick, disabled, infirm, or crippled animal, except a dog or cat, which shall be abandoned in any city, city and county, or judicial district, may, if after due search no owner can be found therefor, be humanely euthanized by the officer; and it shall be the duty of all peace officers, an officer of that society, or officer of an animal shelter or animal regulation department of a public agency to cause the animal to be humanely euthanized on information of that abandonment. The officer may likewise take charge of any animal, including a dog or cat, that by reason of lameness, sickness, feebleness, or neglect, is unfit for the labor it is performing, or that in any other manner is being cruelly treated; and, if the animal is not then in the custody of its owner, the officer shall give notice thereof to the owner, if known, and may provide suitable care for the animal until it is deemed to be in a suitable condition to be delivered to the owner, and any necessary expenses which may be incurred for taking care of and keeping the animal shall be a lien thereon, to be paid before the animal can be lawfully recovered.
(b)(1) It shall be the duty of all officers of animal shelters or humane societies, and animal regulation departments of public agencies to convey, and for police and sheriff departments, to cause to be conveyed all injured cats and dogs found without their owners in a public place directly to a veterinarian known by the officer or agency to be a veterinarian that ordinarily treats dogs and cats for a determination of whether the animal shall be immediately and humanely euthanized or shall be hospitalized under proper care and given emergency treatment.
(2) If the owner does not redeem the animal 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.
(3) Whenever any animal is transferred pursuant to this subdivision to a veterinarian in a clinic, such as an emergency clinic which is not in continuous operation, the veterinarian may, in turn, transfer the animal to an appropriate facility.
(4) If the veterinarian determines that the animal shall be hospitalized under proper care and given emergency treatment, the costs of any services which are provided pending the owner's inquiry to the agency, department, or society shall be paid from the dog license fees, fines, and fees for impounding dogs in the city, county, or city and county in which the animal was licensed or if the animal is unlicensed the jurisdiction in which the animal was found, subject to the provision that this cost be repaid by the animal's owner. No veterinarian shall be criminally or civilly liable for any decision which the veterinarian makes or services which the veterinarian provides pursuant to this section.
(c) An animal control agency which takes possession of an animal pursuant to subdivision (b), shall keep records of the whereabouts of the animal for a 72-hour period from the time of possession and those records shall be available to inspection by the public upon request.
(d) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, any officer of an animal shelter or animal regulation department or humane society, or any officer of a police or sheriff's department may, with the approval of the officer's immediate superior, humanely euthanize any 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.
(Added by Stats.1905, c. 519, p. 680, § 2. Amended by Stats.1951, c. 1608, p. 3612, § 7; Stats.1963, c. 1583, p. 3163, § 1; Stats.1970, c. 580, p. 1155, § 1; Stats.1989, c. 490, § 1; Stats.2019, c. 7 (A.B.1553), § 22, eff. Jan. 1, 2020.)