Search Menu

Tomorrow, Thursday, February 23, 2023, the South Carolina House Judiciary Committee’s Criminal Laws Subcommittee is scheduled to consider a troubling bill that would trample the due process rights of animal owners.

House Bill 3682, the companion bill to Senate Bill 456, addresses disposition of animals seized due to alleged cruelty or neglect. As the bill is currently constructed, a court would be required to order an animal owner to pay the costs of seizure and costs of care for their confiscated animals throughout the trial process.  If unable to pay, the owner would permanently forfeit ownership of their animals, even if the owner is not the one charged with a crime, and even if no person is ever found guilty.

Under current South Carolina law, an owner convicted of cruelty can be required to pay costs of care for impounded animals.  This is reasonable.  House Bill 3682, however, would strike and replace this current law with troubling provisions.  Watch 90 second video to learn more.

SOUTH CAROLINA ANIMAL OWNERS – PLEASE TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY!  All animal owners in South Carolina are urged to immediately contact subcommittee members and respectfully ask them VOTE NO on H 3682 until significant problems with the bill can be addressed.  Email the committee at

Please scroll down to view specific concerns with the bill and talking points you can use.

Animal owners are also urged to attend the subcommittee meeting to express concerns in person.  There will be a sign-up sheet at the door. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:00AM tomorrow, Thursday, February 23, 2023, 9:00AM, Blatt Building, Room 511, 1105 Pendleton Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201.

Contact Information for Individual Subcommittee Members:

Representative Jeff Johnson, Subcommittee Chair
(803) 212-6810,

Representative William Bailey
(803) 212-6918,

Representative Robert “Robby” Robbins
(803) 212-6973,

Representative Seth Rose
(803) 212-6971,

Representative Elizabeth “Spencer” Wetmore
(803) 212-6872,

Concerns and talking points:

Under House Bill 3682, an owner could permanently lose their animals absent any finding of guilt.  The bill provides for the permanent forfeiture of seized animals by operation of law if the owner is unable to pay assessed costs of care throughout proceedings.  Forfeiture for lack of payment would also occur in cases where the person accused of a cruelty offense is ultimately found not guilty or charges are dropped.

House Bill 3682 tramples the due process rights of animal owners.  It would require a court to order an animal owner to pay costs of care for confiscated animals based on a determination explicitly limited to whether seizure of the animals was authorized.  As long as that requirement is met, a court would be mandated to require payment by the animal owner of amounts sufficient to cover costs of the seizure and care for the confiscated animal from seizure date and continuing through all processes that follow.

Under House Bill 3682, the owner of confiscated animals has to pay, even if the owner is not accused of an offense.  For example, if animals were confiscated because of an accusation against an animal caretaker, such as a stable worker, trainer, boarding kennel operator, etc., it would be the owner who must pay costs of care.  H 3682 also fails to adequately protect the rights of innocent co-owners of confiscated animals who were not in possession of the animals at the time of confiscation.

House Bill 3682 does not allow a court to consider an animal owner’s ability to pay for costs of care.  An inability to pay would result in permanent forfeiture of the animals, which would raise procedural due process concerns.

House Bill 3682 provides no meaningful caps on the costs that an animal owner would be required to pay while animals remain confiscated.  Further, an innocent animal owner would effectively pay twice for the costs of housing confiscated animals throughout the time of impoundment.  This is because an owner would also continue maintaining and keeping available owner-provided housing for their animals while the case is pending.

House Bill 3682 does not prohibit elective, non-therapeutic procedures or surgeries (such as spay/neuter) from being performed on seized animals.  No permanent alteration of confiscated animals should be performed without the owner’s written consent.

House Bill 3682 does not consider the unintended consequences of H 3682, including that the bill potentially incentivizes animal sheltering organizations to promote confiscations of animals.  Such confiscations could be authorized by a magistrate in response to a third-party complaint.  The sheltering organization then could—and likely would—receive the confiscated animals, and a court would be mandated to require costs of care be paid to the sheltering organization by the animal owner, absent any criminal charges, determination of probable cause, or finding of guilt against the animal owner or any other person.  Consequently, even if no person is found guilty, the sheltering organization would receive uncapped costs of care, and if the owner cannot keep up payments, be awarded possession of the animals to be sold/adopted for additional fees.

For additional information, please contact AKC Government Relations at 919-816-3720 or email