On Thursday, January 21, the Wyoming Senate Agriculture Committee is considering two bills that address the issue of animals being seized, and the payment of their care during impoundment. This includes Senate File 24, which could cause someone to permanently lose their animals even if they are ultimately found not guilty.
AKC strongly believes that those who treat animals in a cruel manner should be held accountable. We were pleased to work with local AKC club liaisons to draft Wyoming’s Companion Animal Cruelty Act, which as enacted clearly defines cruelty and appropriate penalties. However, Senate Bill 24 ignores the basic right of innocent until proven guilty and could remove the owner’s property rights even if charges are dropped or they are found not guilty.
Those who reside or participate in dog events in Wyoming are strongly encouraged to contact the Senate Agriculture, State, Public Lands & Water Committee before the January 21 hearing and ask them to oppose Senate Bill 24. Scroll Down for contact information.
Both Senate Bills 24 and 25 would require those whose animals are seized on suspicion of cruelty to pay a bond to cover the costs of care while the animals are impounded. Current law already requires a defendant to pay reasonable costs incurred for food, water, “veterinary attention and treatment”. These bills expand and modify this law.
Senate Bill 24 would require a defendant to post a bond with the circuit court to cover impoundment, boarding, nutritional care, veterinary care and diagnostic testing for at least 90 days. This bond must be posted within 10 days after the animal is impounded. When the bond expires, the owner must post a new bond. If they fail to do so, then they will not get their animals back – regardless if the owner is ultimately found not guilty or charges are dropped.
Senate Bill 25 , a better alternative, states that if during the hearing, no probable cause is found, then the animal may be returned to the owner/keeper and they will not be responsible for the costs of care – unless the person later either pleads or is found guilty of a violation of the cruelty laws. In addition, it allows the court to adjust the amount of the bond during the trial. While some portions of the ordinance are a bit unclear, AKC appreciates these important stipulations to protect the rights of dog owners.
What You Can Do:
Those who reside or participate in dog events in Wyoming are encouraged to do the following:
Register to remotely testify at the virtual hearing on January 21 at 1:30 pm. Those who wish to testify at the hearing must register online in advance. The hearing will be conducted via Zoom.
Contact the members of the Senate Agriculture, State, Public Lands, & Water Committee prior to the January 21 meeting. The contact information is as follows:
Senator Brian Boner, Chairman
Senator Anthony Bouchard
Senator Tim French
Senator R.J. Kost
Senator Jeff Wasserburger
AKC Government Relations continues to monitor these bills and will provide more information as it is available. For questions, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.