Limiting abusers’ access to animals

Update Oct. 8, 2011: CA Gov. Jerry Brown has signed A.B. 1117 into law.

Original report: A.B. 1117 would add Sec. 597.9 that would require instead of simply allowing courts to limit a convicted animal abuser’s access to animals. 

The court would be required to bar the abuser convicted of a misdemeanor violation of the animal cruelty or animal fighting laws from "possessing, maintaining, having custody of, residing with, or caring for any animal for a period of not less than five years." It would be a 10 year period for abusers who receive felony convictions.

An abuser who violates these orders would be guilty of a public offense, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, by a fine
not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both.

Farm animals would be exempt if the owner files a petition establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the sanction "would result
in substantial or undue economic hardship to the defendant’s livelihood and that the defendant has the ability to properly care for, and does not present a danger to, the livestock in his or her possession."

Any abuser can petition for a modification of an order barring such contact with animals and must prove by a preponderance of evidence,  that he or she:

   (A) does not present a danger to animals.
   (B) has the ability to properly care for all animals. 
   (C) has successfully completed all classes or counseling ordered by the court.

If the abuser meets this burden of proof, the court may reduce the mandatory ownership prohibition and may order that the
defendant comply with reasonable and unannounced inspections by animal control agencies or law enforcement.

For more on laws banning or restricting access by convicted animal abusers to animals….

A.B. 1117 would also clarify that if a seizure of animals is upheld, there is a lien on the as well as those otherwise impounded that requires owners to pay the full cost of care and treatment before the animal can be returned, regardless of the outcome of any criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding or
of the value of the animal seized. 

The bill also clarifies that there is no right to a post seizure hearing on seizures undertaken pursuant to a warrant. In these situations the bill provides that the animal shall not be returned not only until the charges are paid but also unless the owner demonstrates that the he or she can and will
provide the necessary care and does not 
present a danger to the animal.

The bill would authorize regardless that the prosecutor could seek forfeiture.