Wednesday, October 9, 2019
On January 1, 2020, New Hampshire dog owners facing false accusations of animal cruelty will benefit from new legal protections. These changes will help ensure swift adjudication of complaints involving animals and ensure animal owners are not wrongfully deprived of their rights.
As filed in the 2018 session by Senator Jeb Bradley, the original proposal would have required anyone charged with animal cruelty to pay for and post a bond in order to retain their ownership rights or be forced to forfeit ownership of their animals pending the outcome of their case. In response to significant opposition to that proposal, a new bill filed in early 2019 (Senate Bill 77) required posting bond to retain a legal interest in their animals only during any appeal process.
During additional negotiations and before final text was sent to and signed by Governor Sununu, AKC and the Dog Owners of the Granite State (NH DOGS), along with the support of club members and responsible dog owners throughout the state, successfully secured additional protections. Now, in cases where animals are confiscated by an arresting officer:
- A preliminary hearing will be held by the court within 14 days,
- Co-owners may petition the court to care for animals confiscated pending the outcome of the case,
- Custodians of confiscated animals are prohibited from any permanent alteration (spay/neuter) of the animals prior to final adjudications of the case,
- Anyone charged with cruelty may pay for examination of confiscated animals by their veterinarian for consideration by the court, and
- Courts shall order the return of any bond or security upon a finding of not guilty.
The American Kennel Club believes New Hampshire residents will be better served by this new law and is grateful for the tremendous work by NH DOGS and the House Environment and Agriculture Committee this session. For more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Dog Owners of the Granite State at www.nhdogs.org.