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Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry adopted a final rule that allows for the seizure and impoundment of animals kept by commercial pet breeders and animal shelters in cases where the animals’ health, safety, or welfare is endangered or believed to be in imminent danger.

The rule:

  • Allows the department to seize and impound any animal in the possession, custody, or care of any person who violates the Commercial Pet Breeders and Animal Shelters Licensing Act if there is reason to believe that the health, safety, or welfare of an animal is endangered or if an animal is believed to be in imminent danger.
  • Permits the department to obtain a court order to take custody of such animals and impound them in a safe and appropriate location.
  • Grants the department seven days to petition the court for a hearing regarding the health, safety, and welfare of the animals and costs of seizure and impoundment.  Notice must be provided by the entity the animals were seized from.
  • Permits the court to assess costs of seizure and impoundment against the entity the animals were seized from; including, but not limited to, transportation, medical care, spay or neuter procedures, boarding, and euthanasia (if deemed medically necessary), and costs associated with transfer/adoption of the animal.
  • If the court finds that the department did not have reasonable belief that the health, safety, or welfare of the animals were endangered or in imminent danger, then it may order the immediate return of the animals, with all costs to be incurred by the department.
  • Does not prevent euthanasia of a seized animal or providing it any therapy or procedure as deemed necessary by a licensed veterinarian.

As previously reported, the rule may allow veterinarians to perform medically-unnecessary spay/neuter procedures on seized animals.  Under the new rule, because ownership of seized animals is to remain with the licensees, they should be entitled to determine whether their animals are sexually sterilized if not based on medical necessity.

Contact AKC Government Relations at