The Wyoming Senate is considering a measure that could potentially force owners to relinquish their animals when they are accused of cruelty - even if they are later found not guilty or charges are dismissed.
Senate File 137 has already passed committee and is pending action on the Senate floor. Wyoming has a very short legislative session, and it is likely this bill will continue to move quickly through the Senate and House. Those who reside or participate in events in Wyoming are encouraged to contact the Wyoming Senate and House and express your concerns and questions with Senate File 137 as currently written.
Senate File 137 as amended in committee would allow a peace officer, local government, or animal control officer to lawfully interfere to prevent acts of cruelty that happen in the officer's presence. While not required, the officer may "take charge" of any animal found abandoned, cruelly treated, or neglected and care and provide for it "until the animal is released or destroyed."
The local government is permitted to keep the animal until the expenses for food, shelter and care is paid for by the owner, and may also have a lien against the animal. There are no guidelines for these expenses, the timeframe in which they must be paid, or if the owner gets the money back if they are formally brought up on cruelty charges and found not guilty (or charges are dismissed). If the owner fails to pay these expenses, then their ownership rights will be forfeited.
Livestock are exempted from the bill. Animals that are actively protecting or herding livestock are exempt except in cases of "gross or willful negligence."
The AKC believes that no animal should be treated in a cruel or negligent manner or kept in a situation where their health or safety are at risk. This bill, however, could potentially violate a responsible pet owner's property and due process rights.
How You Can Help:
Contact the members of the Wyoming Senate and House and express your questions and concerns with Senate File 137 as currently written.
View a full list of Wyoming Legislator contact information here.
Click here to find the name and contact information for your State Senator and State Representative.
The AKC Government Relations Department (AKC GR) will continue to provide updates on Senate File 137. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.