Rohrer v. Humane Society of Washington CountyAnnotate this Case
While Md. Code. Ann. Crim. Law 10-615 does not provide for seizure of an animal that is already in state custody in connection with a criminal proceeding, an officer of a humane society may notify the animal’s owner or custodian of an intent to take possession of the animal upon the animal’s release from state custody in the criminal case, and the seizure of an animal under the statute need not occur contemporaneously with the alleged mistreatment of the animal.
In this case, the humane society exercised its authority under section 10-615 to take possession of Petitioner’s animals based on allegations of animal cruelty. Petitioner unsuccessfully petitioned the district court for their return. Ultimately, the vast majority of the animal cruelty charges against Petitioner were disposed of by dismissal or acquittal, but the humane society retained possession of the animals. The Court of Appeals remanded the case in light of the change of circumstances since the district court’s initial decision, holding (1) Petitioner was not entitled to return of the animals based on the humane society’s alleged failure to comply with section 10-615; but (2) the denial of Petitioner’s petition for return of the animals did not eliminate Petitioner’s ownership interest in the animals.