2006 Code of Virginia § 3.1-796.115 - Seizure and impoundment of animals; notice and hearing; disposition of animal; disposition of proce...

3.1-796.115. Seizure and impoundment of animals; notice and hearing;disposition of animal; disposition of proceeds upon sale.

A. Any humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or animal control officermay lawfully seize and impound any animal that has been abandoned, has beencruelly treated, or is suffering from an apparent violation of this chapterthat has rendered the animal in such a condition as to constitute a directand immediate threat to its life, safety or health. Before seizing orimpounding any agricultural animal, such humane investigator, law-enforcementofficer or animal control officer shall contact the State Veterinarian or aState Veterinarian's representative, who shall recommend to such person themost appropriate action for the disposition of the agricultural animal,provided, however, that the seizure or impoundment of an equine resultingfrom a violation of subdivision A (iii) or subdivision B (ii) of 3.1-796.122 may be undertaken only by the State Veterinarian or StateVeterinarian's representative who has received training in the examinationand detection of sore horses equivalent to that required by 9 C.F.R. Part11.7 and that is approved by the State Veterinarian. The humane investigator,law-enforcement officer or animal control officer shall notify the owner ofthe agricultural animal and the local attorney for the Commonwealth of therecommendation. The humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or animalcontrol officer may impound the agricultural animal on the land where theagricultural animal is located if:

1. The owner or tenant of the land where the agricultural animal is locatedgives written permission;

2. A general district court so orders; or

3. The owner or tenant of the land where the agricultural animal is locatedcannot be immediately located, and it is in the best interest of theagricultural animal to be impounded on the land where it is located until thewritten permission of the owner or tenant of the land can be obtained.

If there is a direct and immediate threat to an agricultural animal, thehumane investigator, law-enforcement officer or animal control officer mayseize the animal, in which case the humane investigator, law-enforcementofficer or animal control officer shall file within five business days on aform approved by the State Veterinarian a report on the condition of theanimal at the time of the seizure, the disposition of the animal, and anyother information required by the State Veterinarian.

Upon seizing or impounding an animal, the humane investigator,law-enforcement officer or animal control officer shall petition the generaldistrict court in the city or county wherein the animal is seized for ahearing. The hearing shall be not more than ten business days from the dateof the seizure of the animal. The hearing shall be to determine whether theanimal has been abandoned, has been cruelly treated, or has not been providedadequate care.

B. The humane investigator, law-enforcement officer, or animal controlofficer shall cause to be served upon the person with a right of property inthe animal or the custodian of the animal notice of the hearing. If suchperson or the custodian is known and residing within the jurisdiction whereinthe animal is seized, written notice shall be given at least five days priorto the hearing of the time and place of the hearing. If such person or thecustodian is known but residing out of the jurisdiction where such animal isseized, written notice by any method or service of process as is provided bythe Code of Virginia shall be given. If such person or the custodian is notknown, the humane investigator, law-enforcement officer, or animal controlofficer shall cause to be published in a newspaper of general circulation inthe jurisdiction wherein such animal is seized notice of the hearing at leastone time prior to the hearing and shall further cause notice of the hearingto be posted at least five days prior to the hearing at the place providedfor public notices at the city hall or courthouse wherein such hearing shallbe held.

C. The procedure for appeal and trial shall be the same as provided by lawfor misdemeanors. Trial by jury shall be as provided in Article 4 ( 19.2-260et seq.) of Chapter 15 of Title 19.2. The Commonwealth shall be required toprove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

D. The humane investigator, law-enforcement officer, or animal controlofficer shall provide for such animal until the court has concluded thehearing. Any locality may, by ordinance, require the owner of any animal heldpursuant to this subsection for more than thirty days to post a bond insurety with the locality for the amount of the cost of boarding the animalfor a period of time set in the ordinance, not to exceed nine months.

If the court determines that the animal has been neither abandoned, cruellytreated, nor deprived of adequate care, the animal shall be returned to theowner. If the court determines that the animal has been abandoned, cruellytreated, or deprived of adequate care, then the court shall order that theanimal be: (i) sold by a local governing body; (ii) humanely destroyed, ordisposed of by sale or gift to a federal agency, state-supported institution,agency of the Commonwealth, agency of another state, or a licensed federaldealer having its principal place of business located within theCommonwealth; (iii) delivered to any local humane society or shelter, or toany person who is a resident of the county or city where the animal is seizedor an adjacent county or city in the Commonwealth and who will pay therequired license fee, if any, on such animal; or (iv) delivered to the personwith a right of property in the animal as provided in subsection E.

E. In no case shall the owner be allowed to purchase, adopt, or otherwiseobtain the animal if the court determines that the animal has been abandoned,cruelly treated, or deprived of adequate care; however, the court shalldirect that the animal be delivered to the person with a right of property inthe animal, upon his request, if the court finds that the abandonment, crueltreatment, or deprivation of adequate care is not attributable to the actionsor inactions of such person.

F. The court shall order the owner of any animal determined to have beenabandoned, cruelly treated, or deprived of adequate care to pay allreasonable expenses incurred in caring and providing for such animal from thetime the animal is seized until such time that the animal is disposed of inaccordance with the provisions of this section, to the provider of such care.

G. The court may prohibit the possession or ownership of other companionanimals by the owner of any companion animal found to have been abandoned,cruelly treated, or deprived of adequate care. In making a determination toprohibit the possession or ownership of companion animals, the court may takeinto consideration the owner's past record of convictions under this chapteror other laws prohibiting cruelty to animals or pertaining to the care ortreatment of animals and the owner's mental and physical condition.

H. If the court finds that an agricultural animal has been abandoned orcruelly treated, the court may prohibit the possession or ownership of anyother agricultural animal by the owner of the agricultural animal if theowner has exhibited a pattern of abandoning or cruelly treating agriculturalanimals as evidenced by previous convictions of violating 3.1-796.73 or 3.1-796.122. In making a determination to prohibit the possession orownership of agricultural animals, the court may take into consideration theowner's mental and physical condition.

I. Any person who is prohibited from owning or possessing animals pursuant tosubsection G or H may petition the court to repeal the prohibition after twoyears have elapsed from the date of entry of the court's order. The courtmay, in its discretion, repeal the prohibition if the person can prove to thesatisfaction of the court that the cause for the prohibition has ceased toexist.

J. When a sale occurs, the proceeds shall first be applied to the costs ofthe sale then next to the unreimbursed expenses for the care and provision ofthe animal, and the remaining proceeds, if any, shall be paid over to theowner of the animal. If the owner of the animal cannot be found, the proceedsremaining shall be paid into the Literary Fund of the state treasury.

K. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the humanedestruction of a critically injured or ill animal for humane purposes by theimpounding humane investigator, law-enforcement officer, animal controlofficer, or licensed veterinarian.

L. [Repealed.]

(1984, c. 492, 29-213.84; 1986, c. 362; 1987, c. 488; 1990, c. 322; 1992,c. 123; 1993, c. 119; 1994, c. 387; 1998, c. 817; 1999, c. 113; 2002, c. 500.)

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