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URGENT - Montana Animal  Forfeiture Bill Advances to House

Please share this urgent alert with concerned animal owners in Montana.

Senate Bill 421, which would allow Montana courts to order the permanent forfeiture of animals that are seized based on alleged acts of animal cruelty, has advanced to the Montana House of Representatives and could be voted into law.

The American Kennel Club abhors the mistreatment of dogs and supports strong enforcement of reasonable animal cruelty laws. Senate Bill 421, however, could result in permanent forfeiture of animals that are impounded based on alleged violations of animal cruelty laws.  Our concerns with SB 421 include the following:

  • Loss of property ownership rights and the right to challenge extensive costs – SB 421 would allow a court to order forfeiture of animals seized under allegations of animal cruelty unless the defendant posts a bond or security to pay the costs of care for the animals for 30 days.  Payment would be required within 72 hours following a hearing that finds probable cause that the animals exhibit extreme disease, injury or suffering.  It should be noted that a finding of “probable cause” is not a determination of guilt.  If the owner does not pay the costs of care, his property is forfeit, he relinquishes the right to challenge potentially extensive costs, and he loses the opportunity defend his ownership rights at trial.
  • Third party interference – At the time of the hearing, seized animals will have been out of the owner’s care for a number of days or weeks.  During the seizure, transportation and impoundment process, animals may have suffered injury and exposure to disease while outside the defendant’s control and without his knowledge.
  • Even if the defendant wins, he loses – There is no provision for the reimbursement of costs to animal owners who are found not guilty or against whom charges are dismissed.  A citizen unjustly accused of animal cruelty could be forced to spend thousands of dollars to retain ownership of animals that should not have been impounded in the first place.
  • Burdensome for low-income citizens – There is no provision for defendants with low incomes who cannot pay animal care costs.

The AKC supports existing Montana Code 45-8-211 in which a person convicted of animal cruelty is required to pay costs of veterinary treatment for affected animals, may be required to forfeit his animals, and may be required to pay reasonable costs of care.

SB 421 violates the rights of animal owners who may be forced to forfeit ownership prior to adjudication.  No citizen should  be charged with costs of care for animals removed from his possession absent a finding of guilt.

How You Can Help

  • Immediately contact members of the Montana House of Representatives to politely express your concerns and ask them to vote “No” to Senate Bill 421. Call (406) 444-4800 during business hours to leave messages Representatives.  Email addresses (when available) are listed below.  Click here to find the Representative for your district.
  • Click here to send a respectful message to “Vote Against” SB 421 to Representatives using an online form.
  • Fax a message to all Representatives at fax number (406) 444-4825.  Clearly indicate “House of Representatives” on your fax.

    Duane Ankney                      goodwind.duane@gmail.com
    Elsie Arntzen                        emarntzen@gmail.com
    Liz Bangerter                        liz@lizb4house.com
    Dick Barrett                           rnewbar@gmail.com
    William Beck                        rep.bbeck@centurytel.net
    Tony Belcourt                        tbelcourt@hotmail.com
    Bryce Bennett                      
    Gerald Bennett                      jbenhd1@hotmail.com
    Tom Berry                             tom@tomberrymt.com
    Mark Blasdel                         mblasdel@bresnan.net
    Joanne Blyton                       dblyton@aol.com
    Cydnie Boland                       ccboland@bresnan.net
    Randy Brodehl                      brodehl@centurytel.net
    Tom Burnett                          tburnetthd63@hotmail.com
    Christy Clark                         christy_clark@ymail.com
    Patrick Connell                      connell4hd87@yahoo.com
    Rob Cook                              robc_hd27@itbusa.com
    Virginia Court                        vjchd52@yahoo.com
    Mike Cuffe                             mike@mcuffe.com
    Robyn Driscoll                       rdriscoll@peoplepc.com
    Champ Edmunds                   champ.edmunds@yahoo.com
    Ron Ehli                                montanamutt@montana.com
    John Esp                              johnesp2001@yahoo.com
    Lila Evans                             boyd.evans@gmail.com
    Steve Fitzpatrick                   fitzpatricks@bresnan.net
    Kelly Flynn                            hideaway@mt.net
    Timothy Furey                       tjfurey@montana.com
    Steve Gibson                       
    Edward Greef                       
    Alan Hale                              alangail38@wildblue.net
    Betsy Hands                         betsyhands@gmail.com
    Kristin Hansen                      krishansen33@gmail.com
    Bill Harris                              bharris@midrivers.com
    Gordon Hendrick                   hendrickhd14@yahoo.com
    Ellie Hill                                elliehillhd94@gmail.com
    Cynthia Hiner                        matthiner@hotmail.com
    Roy Hollandsworth                 hgrain@3rivers.net
    Galen Hollenbaugh                galen@hollenbaugh.org
    Brian Hoven 
    David Howard                        d.howard@usadig.com
    Chuck Hunter                        chunter717@bresnan.net
    Pat Ingraham                        pathd13@blackfoot.net
    Douglas Kary                        dougkary.hd48@gmail.com
    Dan Kennedy                        dan@votedankennedy.com
    Krayton Kerns                       krayton@kraytonkerns.org
    Harry Klock                           klock@mtintouch.net
    James Knox                          james@vote4knox.com
    Austin Knudsen                     austinforhouse@yahoo.com
    Steve Lavin                            stevelavin4hd8@gmail.com
    Cleve Loney                          cloney@q.com
    Margaret MacDonald              macmargaret@gmail.com
    Gary MacLaren                     garymaclaren@yahoo.com
    Sue Malek                            suemalek@gmail.com
    Bill McChesney                     macwilly66@msn.com
    Edith McClafferty                   edie.mcclafferty@gmail.com
    Thomas McGillvray                tmcgillvray@bresnan.net
    Mary McNally                        mcnallyhd49@gmail.com
    Jonathan McNiven                 jonathanmcniven@gmail.com
    Walter McNutt                       walt@midrivers.com
    Robert Mehlhoff                     rmehlhoff@yahoo.com
    Mike Menahan                      mike@mikemenahan.com
    Mike Milburn                         mmilburn@mcn.net
    Mike Miller                            mike4hd84@blackfoot.net
    Michael More                        mp_more@yahoo.com
    Pat Noonan                           pnoonan73@yahoo.com
    Jesse O'Hara                        jesse59404@yahoo.com
    Jerry O'Neil                           oneil@centurytel.net
    Ryan Osmundson                  ryanosmundson@gmail.com
    Carolyn Pease-Lopez             Clopezzz@wildblue.net
    Kenneth Peterson                  kenneth59@bresnan.net
    Mike Phillips                            mikephillips@montana.net
    Jean Price                             jl_price@bresnan.net
    Lee Randall                           LeeRandall_2003@hotmail.com
    Joe Read                              jrdemob@yahoo.com
    Keith Regier                          kregier@centurytel.net
    Scott Reichner                      sreichner@centurytel.net
    Michele Reinhart                   michelereinhart@gmail.com
    Donald Roberts                    
    Matthew Rosendale               mattrosendale@midrivers.com
    Daniel Salomon                     dansalomon12@gmail.com
    Diane Sands                         hdsands@aol.com
    Trudi Schmidt                        trudischmidt@q.com
    Jon Sesso                             jonsesso@yahoo.com
    Dan Skattum                         skattumd@wispwest.net
    Derek Skees                         derekskees@gmail.com
    Sterling Small                       badcatsmall@yahoo.com
    Cary Smith                            cary@bresnan.net
    Frank Smith                          clairena@nemontel.net
    Carolyn Squires                     sqigs@msn.com
    Wayne Stahl                         wstahl@nemontel.net
    Kathy Swanson                     kswansonforrep@live.com
    Janna Taylor jannataylor@montana.com
    Gordon Vance                       vancehd67@gmail.com
    Bob Wagner
    Wendy Warburton                 wendywarburton@gmail.com
    Ted Washburn                       ted@tedwashburn.com
    Jeffrey Welborn                    
    Kathleen Williams                 kathleenhd65@bresnan.net
    Franke Wilmer                      franke.wilmer@gmail.com
    Max Yates                            max.yates.hd74@gmail.com

Contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org for additional information.

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