Animal Welfare Professionals

  • 1.  Thoughts on cost of care laws?

    Maddie's Fund Staff
    Posted 09-28-2021 04:59 PM

    Thoughts on cost of care laws? What's the counter argument? and why aren't more states jumping on board more quickly?

    Cost of care laws (also referred to as bonding and forfeiture laws) vary by state, but they ideally mandate a hearing after animals are seized from an alleged neglect or cruelty situation to secure payment for the animals' care. During the hearing, the owner either posts a bond upfront for the cost of caring for the animals or forfeits ownership of them. In states without cost of care laws, animals are often forced to live in limbo while a court case proceeds. Since animals are considered the owner's property, they can't be adopted into new homes until they're surrendered by the owner or legally forfeited after conviction. This means animals are often held for months or years, all the while municipal shelters and nonprofit rescues foot often exorbitant bills to house, feed and vet the animals. 


    Thank you all for all you do!

    Amber Freiwald
    Maddie's Fund

  • 2.  RE: Thoughts on cost of care laws?

    Posted 09-29-2021 09:38 AM
      |   view attached
    Hey Amber- interesting topic! So in Tennessee, my city attorney has advised that basically it is judiciary discretion whether this bond payment is ordered, and unfortunately, our judges have proven very unlikely to order it (which is fine in most cases, but in those rare complicated cases it would be very helpful and they just don't seem to be willing to do it).

    What we have done here instead is create an impound acknowledgment form (attached here) that is a carbon copy. When issuing a summons on scene, we give this form to the owner at time of seizure, where they agree to come in and pay impound fees during the first 72 hours (our legal stray hold) to then "lay claim" that they want to get the pet back.

    If they do not come in by that deadline and they signed this form, we considered the pet abandoned and can move forward with an alternate outcome. This has drastically reduced our length of stay for court case holds.

    Alexis Pugh
    Director, Memphis Animal Services

    Organizational Management
    & Pet Support Services Specialist


    Impoundment Fee Form.docx   37 KB 1 version

  • 3.  RE: Thoughts on cost of care laws?

    Posted 10-05-2021 02:58 PM
    What a great topic because this impacts every animal control agency.  Here in California we do have a law which allows us to place a lien on an animal that has been seized and if the owner fails to pay the lien the animal is deemed abandoned and the agency can release the hold of the animal.  We have a hearing process which allows the owner to contest the legality of the seizure and if it is found to be a legal seizure or the owner fails to request a hearing,  the lien is placed on the animal.  With that in place, few animals are held for long periods of time because most owners do not want to continue to pay a lien for an animal that they are not sure they will get back.  

    Where we run into problems and hold animals for long periods of time is when our local police department seizes an animal and brings it to us.  We aren't the seizing agency and since they don't offer the owner with a hearing to contest the legality of the seizure we can't place a lien on the animal per the code.  We are considering still holding the hearing, giving notice to the owner within 48 hours as required by the code and summoning the seizing police officer to testify in order to not hold these animals for the length of the case.

    What challenges or solutions have other jurisdictions faced or come up with?

    Annette G. Ramirez
    Assistant General Manager
    Los Angeles Animal Services

    Field Services and Public Safety &
    Laws and Public Policy Specialist