Yesterday, a Michigan Senate committee passed two bills (House Bills 4703 and 4704) that address the issue of animals being seized on certain serious cruelty charges, and the payment of their care during impoundment.
Michigan residents are encouraged to use the contact information and talking points provided below to thank the lawmakers for positive changes in these bills, and ask for further amendments to ensure the rights of innocent dog owners are fully protected (Scroll down for contact information).
Current Michigan law allows an animal to be impounded when the owner is charged with a violation of the state’s cruelty laws, including intentional or reckless acts that result in an animal being killed, disfigured, maimed, etc. The law also allows a prosecuting attorney to request a court order that the animal be permanently forfeited to the impounding agency before the case is complete and there is a final disposition.
Current law also already requires owners to pay for the care of the animals.
House Bills 4703 and 4704 clarify that the owner or possessor may request a hearing within 14 days to determine if the requirement to pay is justified and the cost is fair and reasonable. AKC greatly appreciates that the owner has an opportunity for a hearing before payments are required, and that the owner’s ability to pay may be a consideration.
AKC also strongly supports amendments in these bills that state that if the owner is ultimately found not guilty, the animals must be returned, and the payments may be returned as well. We remain concerned, however, that any missed payments will result in the defendant permanently losing the rights to the animal even if they are found not guilty. We are also concerned that current protections are removed for those with a “security interest” or “lien filed with the Secretary of State” who had no knowledge of the cruelty actions. It is unclear how this would impact those with certain ownership rights to animals.
What You Can Do:
The bills will likely soon be considered by the full Senate. Those who reside or participate in dog events in Michigan are encouraged to contact their State Senator by entering your address at this link, and express the following regarding House Bills 4703 and 4704:
- Express your appreciation that the bills ensure that the owner has the opportunity for a hearing and that the ability to pay may be considered
- Respectfully ask that the bills be amended to protect property rights by allowing animals to be returned to their owners if they are found not guilty – even if they miss a payment.
- Respectfully ask that the bills be amended to restore protection for those who have security interests in the animals and had no prior knowledge or did not give consent to the criminal actions.
AKC Government Relations continues to closely monitor bills in Michigan with the potential to impact dog owners. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at email@example.com.