This chapter of laws deals with the holding and care of animals that are rescued from a disaster area. The animals that are rescued are kept for a certain amount of time depending on what type of disaster are they are taken from. During the holding period, the animal shelter is repsonsible for caring for the animal and making all necessary veterinarian decisions. Any violations relating to this chapter of laws may be enforced by the State Board of Agriculture.
§ 701. Short title--Care and Disposition of Disaster Animals Act
§ 702. Definitions
§ 703. Holding periods
§ 704. Transfer to animal shelter
§ 705. Removal from the state--Penalties
§ 706. Application and construction of act
§ 707. Enforcement
This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Care and Disposition of Disaster Animals Act”.
Laws 2015, c. 304, § 1, emerg. eff. May 12, 2015.
As used in the Care and Disposition of Disaster Animals Act:
1. “Animal shelter” means a physical facility or entity, including those utilizing private homes, operating for the purpose of providing temporary or long-term animal shelter to lost, unwanted or abandoned animals, that is recognized and approved by the state or local authority;
2. “Approved website” means a website approved by the State Veterinarian;
3. “Class #1 Event” means a state-declared emergency for a county or portion of a county requiring companion animals' owners to leave their residences for more than twenty-four (24) hours;
4. “Class #2 Event” means a federally declared disaster requiring companion animals' owners to leave their residences for more than twenty-four (24) hours;
5. “Companion animals” means domesticated animals, such as a dog, cat, bird, rabbit, rodent or turtle, that are traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes, can travel in commercial carriers and be housed in temporary facilities. Companion animals do not include reptiles other than turtles, amphibians, fish, insects, arachnids, farm animals including, but not limited to, horses, animals kept for racing purposes or animals held by a registered research facility under the federal Animal Welfare Act. Feral animals, animals covered by the federal Animal Welfare Act or by regulations issued under that act and any other animals held for use in or used in research are excluded from the Care and Disposition of Disaster Animals Act;
6. “Disaster animals” means domesticated companion animals that have become separated from an owner as the result of a Class #1 Event or Class #2 Event. Disaster animals include those found on private property or running at large, as well as owner-surrendered or relinquished companion animals. Feral animals are excluded from the Care and Disposition of Disaster Animals Act;
7. “Extension by contract” means extensions of the mandated holding period based upon an agreement between the owner and animal shelter for an additional time period;
8. “Feral animals” means animals that do not have an owner;
9. “Holding period” means the length of time that disaster animals are cared for by an animal shelter and not disposed of;
10. “Owner” means the person having title to companion animals;
11. “Reclaim” means the taking back of possession of disaster animals by the owner or an agent of the owner;
12. “Shelter animals” means companion animals living at an animal shelter before a Class #1 Event or Class #2 Event; and
13. “Tracking information” means available information about the owner, physical description and health history of the disaster animal, photographs of the disaster animal, information about where the disaster animal was found and transported to, recommended course of treatment and communications with an owner, including a holding period extension by contract.
Laws 2015, c. 304, § 2, emerg. eff. May 12, 2015.
A. Disaster animals taken from a disaster area or delivered to an animal shelter following a Class #1 Event or Class #2 Event shall be kept by the animal shelter that receives the disaster animals according to the applicable holding period, unless the owner of the disaster animals agrees otherwise in writing. After the applicable holding period has passed for disaster animals, the animal shelter has the authority to dispose of the disaster animals as allowed under state law when there is no Class #1 Event or Class #2 Event, unless the owner has an extension by contract with the animal shelter for additional time. An owner who does not retake possession of their disaster animals by the end of the applicable holding period plus any extension by contract thereof has abandoned the disaster animals, and any new owner shall have unencumbered title to the disaster animals.
B. Holding periods:
1. Class #1 Event: Disaster animals brought in to an animal shelter shall be kept by the animal shelter for a minimum of thirty (30) days;
2. Class #2 Event: Disaster animals brought to an animal shelter shall be kept for a minimum of thirty (30) days up to ninety (90) days as determined by the State Veterinarian after photograph and tracking information about the disaster animals sufficient to give notice to owners is posted on an approved website. The holding period for the animal shelter shall be six (6) months if posting on an approved website does not occur. This requirement may be modified by the State Veterinarian or as otherwise determined by the State Veterinarian;
3. During the holding period, the animal shelter is fully authorized to provide or arrange for necessary veterinary health services that are in the best interests of the disaster animals as may be determined by a veterinarian, up to and including humane euthanasia. A disaster animal that exhibits ownership by the presence of a tag or identification chip or was removed from a private residence, including fenced adjacent land, may not be spayed or neutered without the written permission of the owner unless it is medically necessary as may be determined by a veterinarian;
4. During the holding period, an animal shelter may place a disaster animal in a private home or other animal shelter either in the state or out of the state so long as available tracking information is kept and any transfer out of state is authorized by the State Veterinarian. In no case shall title to a disaster animal be awarded to a new owner until after the holding period has expired, together with any extension by contract thereof;
5. If an owner of a disaster animal contacts an animal shelter about disaster animals but is unable to assume possession of the disaster animal by the end of the applicable holding period, the owner may request the animal shelter to keep the disaster animal for up to an additional thirty (30) days, if the owner is willing to pay the cost of care as established by the animal shelter for the disaster animal during an extension by contract. The animal shelter may require payment of the costs as a condition of extending the holding period. If by the end of the extension by contract the disaster animal has not been reclaimed by the owner, the animal shelter may treat the holding period as expired. The animal shelter shall advise an owner of the dates of the required holding period and opportunity for extensions by contract, if any owner inquiry is made;
6. If an animal shelter becomes inoperative because of a Class #1 Event or Class #2 Event, all the companion animals removed from the animal shelter shall be treated as disaster animals by whoever takes control of the companion animals, unless records that accompany the shelter animals demonstrate that it was lawfully permissible to transfer title to the shelter animals before a Class #1 Event or Class #2 Event. If these records are available, then the shelter animals shall not be treated as disaster animals;
7. If an owner of a disaster animal has contacted the animal shelter responsible for the owner's disaster animal before the end of the holding period to reclaim the disaster animal, but the animal shelter or other possessor of the disaster animal refuses to return the disaster animal, any transfer of title agreement by the animal shelter to a new owner is voidable by court order; and
8. Prior to the scheduling of any adoption event for the adoption of unclaimed disaster animals from a Class #1 Event or Class #2 Event, the animal shelter shall notify the State Veterinarian and request approval of the adoption event. Any transfer of title agreement by the animal shelter to a new owner is voidable by court order if the adoption event is not approved by the State Veterinarian.
Laws 2015, c. 304, § 3, emerg. eff. May 12, 2015.
Any individual who is not working under the authority of an animal shelter and who takes possession of disaster animals shall transfer the disaster animals as quickly as reasonably possible to an animal shelter along with available tracking information.
Laws 2015, c. 304, § 4, emerg. eff. May 12, 2015.
A. No disaster animal may be removed from the state without the permission of the State Veterinarian or by satisfying such requirements as might be established by the State Veterinarian.
B. Except as provided in subsection A of this section, anyone who knowingly removes disaster animals from the state is subject to a civil fine of up to One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) per offense. Each disaster animal, each action or each day a violation continues may constitute a separate and distinct offense.
Laws 2015, c. 304, § 5, emerg. eff. May 12, 2015.
A. The Care and Disposition of Disaster Animals Act shall not limit an animal control authority or agent thereof from humanely euthanizing an animal in accordance with existing state law.
B. The Care and Disposition of Disaster Animals Act does not impose any affirmative duty on an animal shelter to admit disaster animals.
C. The Care and Disposition of Disaster Animals Act shall not restrict or interfere with the general powers of the State Veterinarian, including the power to quarantine or to restrict the movement of disaster animals or to exercise powers provided by law.
D. The Care and Disposition of Disaster Animals Act shall not be construed as preventing veterinary care for disaster animals either before or after they are brought to an animal shelter.
Laws 2015, c. 304, § 6, emerg. eff. May 12, 2015.
Violations of the Care and Disposition of Disaster Animals Act may be enforced by the State Board of Agriculture pursuant to its enforcement authority and all remedies found in the Oklahoma Agricultural Code for the enforcement of Title 2 of the Oklahoma Statutes.
Laws 2015, c. 304, § 7, emerg. eff. May 12, 2015.