Tomorrow, April 26, at 10:00am, the South Carolina Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee is scheduled to vote on House Bill 3682, a bill that would trample the rights of animal owners. This bill has already passed in the House and “crossed over” to the Senate. Swift action is needed by animal owners to stop this bill now in the Senate subcommittee.
Under House Bill 3682, an innocent owner would permanently forfeit their animals based on an accusation—including an accusation made against another person—if unable to pay for all costs of confiscating and impounding their animals. Charges would include paying the costs of conducting the seizure and payments for each month’s cost of care of the impounded animals which would be due in advance throughout the trial process. Even if there was no finding of guilt, the innocent owner would either pay the charges or lose their animals forever.
TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY! All animal owners in South Carolina are urged to immediately contact every subcommittee member and respectfully ask them to Vote NO on House Bill 3682. Scroll down for contact information.
Your email or phone message should begin with, “My name is _________, I am a resident of South Carolina, and I strongly oppose House Bill 3682. I ask you to vote no on House Bill 3682.”
You can include additional comments, or just end with, “Thank you.” You do not need to speak directly to a staff member—brief, polite voice mail messages and email messages count! Additional talking points are provided below the subcommittee contact list.
Subcommittee Contact Information
Sen. Michael Johnson, Subcommittee Chair
Use this link to send an online message to Sen. Michael Johnson
Sen. Stephen. L Goldfinch
Use this link to send an online message to Sen. Goldfinch
Sen. Richard A. “Dick” Harpootlian
Use this link to send an online message to Sen. Harpootlian
Sen. J. Thomas McElveen III
Use this link to send an online message to Sen. McElveen
Sen. Billy Garrett (sponsor of a similar problematic Senate bill)
Use this link to send an online message to Sen. Garrett
House Bill 3682 addresses the disposition of animals confiscated due to alleged cruelty. Under this bill, 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 person charged with a crime or if no person is ever found guilty. An innocent owner would bear all costs of impoundment from date of seizure through the verdict.
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 delete and replace this current law with troubling provisions.
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 minimal 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. House Bill 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 caps on the costs that an animal owner would be required to pay while animals remain confiscated. Costs should be limited to the costs related to the direct care of the animals.
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, 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, a determination of probable cause that a crime occurred, or a 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 ownership of the animals to be sold/adopted for additional fees.
Click here to read AKC’s Due Process Protections for Dog Owners position statement.
Click here to view a brief animated explainer video on “cost of care” legislation.
Click here to view talking points in AKC’s one-page flyer on “cost of care” legislation.
For additional information, please contact AKC Government Relations at 919-816-3720 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.