2006 Code of Virginia § 3.1-796.96 - County or city pounds; confinement and disposition of animals; affiliation with foster care provide...

3.1-796.96. County or city pounds; confinement and disposition of animals;affiliation with foster care providers; penalties; injunctive relief.

A. The governing body of each county or city shall maintain or cause to bemaintained a pound and shall require dogs running at large without the tagrequired by 3.1-796.92 or in violation of an ordinance passed pursuant to 3.1-796.93 to be confined therein. Nothing in this section shall be construedto prohibit confinement of other companion animals in such a pound. Thegoverning body of any county or city need not own the facility required bythis section but may contract for its establishment with a private group orin conjunction with one or more other local governing bodies. The governingbody shall require that:

1. The pound shall be accessible to the public at reasonable hours during theweek;

2. The pound shall obtain a signed statement from each of its directors,operators, staff, or animal caregivers specifying that each individual hasnever been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, or abandonment, and eachpound shall update such statement as changes occur;

3. If a person contacts the pound inquiring about a lost companion animal,the pound shall advise the person if the companion animal is confined at thepound or if a companion animal of similar description is confined at thepound;

4. The pound shall maintain a written record of the information on eachcompanion animal submitted to the pound by an animal shelter in accordancewith subsection D of 3.1-796.96:2 for a period of 30 days from the date theinformation is received by the pound. If a person contacts the poundinquiring about a lost companion animal, the pound shall check its recordsand make available to such person any information submitted by an animalshelter or allow such person inquiring about a lost animal to view thewritten records;

5. The pound shall maintain a written record of the information on eachcompanion animal submitted to the pound by a releasing agency other than apound or animal shelter in accordance with subdivision F 2 of 3.1-796.96:5for a period of 30 days from the date the information is received by thepound. If a person contacts the pound inquiring about a lost companionanimal, the pound shall check its records and make available to such personany information submitted by such releasing agency or allow such personinquiring about a lost companion animal to view the written records; and

6. The pound shall maintain a written record of the information on eachcompanion animal submitted to the pound by an individual in accordance withsubdivision A 2 of 3.1-796.96:7 for a period of 30 days from the date theinformation is received by the pound. If a person contacts the poundinquiring about a lost companion animal, the pound shall check its recordsand make available to such person any information submitted by the individualor allow such person inquiring about a lost companion animal to view thewritten records.

B. An animal confined pursuant to this section shall be kept for a period ofnot less than five days, such period to commence on the day immediatelyfollowing the day the animal is initially confined in the facility, unlesssooner claimed by the rightful owner thereof.

The operator or custodian of the pound shall make a reasonable effort toascertain whether the animal has a collar, tag, license, tattoo, or otherform of identification. If such identification is found on the animal, theanimal shall be held for an additional five days, unless sooner claimed bythe rightful owner. If the rightful owner of the animal can be readilyidentified, the operator or custodian of the pound shall make a reasonableeffort to notify the owner of the animal's confinement within the next 48hours following its confinement.

If any animal confined pursuant to this section is claimed by its rightfulowner, such owner may be charged with the actual expenses incurred in keepingthe animal impounded.

C. If an animal confined pursuant to this section has not been claimed uponexpiration of the appropriate holding period as provided by subsection B, itshall be deemed abandoned and become the property of the pound.

Such animal may be humanely destroyed or disposed of by the methods set forthin subdivisions 1 through 5. No pound shall release more than two animals ora family of animals during any 30-day period to any one person undersubdivisions 2, 3, or 4.

1. Release to any humane society, animal shelter, or other releasing agencywithin the Commonwealth, provided that each humane society, animal shelter,or other releasing agency obtains a signed statement from each of itsdirectors, operators, staff, or animal caregivers specifying that eachindividual has never been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, orabandonment and updates such statements as changes occur;

2. Adoption by a resident of the county or city for which the pound isoperated and who will pay the required license fee, if any, on such animal,provided that such resident has read and signed a statement specifying thathe has never been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, or abandonment;

3. Adoption by a resident of an adjacent political subdivision of theCommonwealth, provided that such resident has read and signed a statementspecifying that he has never been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, orabandonment;

4. Adoption by any other person, provided that such person has read andsigned a statement specifying that he has never been convicted of animalcruelty, neglect, or abandonment, and provided that no animal may be adoptedby any person who is not a resident of the county or city for which the poundis operated, or of an adjacent political subdivision, unless the animal isfirst sterilized, and the pound may require that the sterilization be done atthe expense of the person adopting the animal; or

5. Release for the purposes of adoption or euthanasia only, to an animalshelter, or any other releasing agency located in and lawfully operatingunder the laws of another state, provided that such animal shelter, or otherreleasing agency: (i) maintains records that would comply with 3.1-796.105;(ii) requires that adopted dogs and cats be sterilized; (iii) obtains asigned statement from each of its directors, operators, staff, and animalcaregivers specifying that each individual has never been convicted of animalcruelty, neglect, or abandonment, and updates such statement as changesoccur; and (iv) has provided to the pound, animal shelter, or other releasingagency within the Commonwealth a statement signed by an authorizedrepresentative specifying the entity's compliance with clauses (i) through(iii), and the provisions of adequate care and performance of humaneeuthanasia, as necessary in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

For purposes of recordkeeping, release of an animal by a pound to a pound,animal shelter or other releasing agency shall be considered a transfer andnot an adoption. If the animal is not first sterilized, the responsibilityfor sterilizing the animal transfers to the receiving entity.

D. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the immediate euthanasia of acritically injured, critically ill, or unweaned animal for humane purposes.Any animal euthanized pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall beeuthanized by one of the methods prescribed or approved by the StateVeterinarian.

E. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the immediate euthanasia ordisposal by the methods listed in subdivisions 1 through 5 of subsection C ofan animal that has been released to a pound, animal shelter, other releasingagency, or animal control officer by the animal's rightful owner after therightful owner has read and signed a statement (i) surrendering all propertyrights in such animal, (ii) stating that no other person has a right ofproperty in the animal, and (iii) acknowledging that the animal may beimmediately euthanized or disposed of in accordance with subdivisions 1through 5 of subsection C.

F. Nothing in this section shall prohibit any feral dog or feral cat notbearing a collar, tag, tattoo, or other form of identification which, basedon the written statement of a disinterested person, exhibits behavior thatposes a risk of physical injury to any person confining the animal, frombeing euthanized after being kept for a period of not less than three days,at least one of which shall be a full business day, such period to commenceon the day the animal is initially confined in the facility, unless soonerclaimed by the rightful owner. The statement of the disinterested personshall be kept with the animal as required by 3.1-796.105. For purposes ofthis subsection, a disinterested person shall not include a person releasingor reporting the animal.

G. No pound shall place a companion animal in a foster home with a fostercare provider unless the foster care provider has read and signed a statementspecifying that he has never been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, orabandonment, and each pound shall update such statement as changes occur. Thepound shall maintain the original statement and any updates to such statementin accordance with this chapter and for at least so long as the pound has anaffiliation with the foster care provider.

H. A pound that places a companion animal in a foster home with a foster careprovider shall ensure that the foster care provider complies with 3.1-796.68.

I. If a pound finds a direct and immediate threat to a companion animalplaced with a foster care provider, it shall report its findings to theanimal control agency in the locality where the foster care provider islocated.

J. For purposes of this section:

"Animal" shall not include agricultural animals.

"Rightful owner" means a person with a right of property in the animal.

K. The governing body shall require that the pound be operated in accordancewith regulations issued by the Board. If this chapter or such regulations areviolated, the locality may be assessed a civil penalty by the Board or itsdesignee in an amount that does not exceed $1,000 per violation. Each day ofthe violation shall constitute a separate offense. In determining the amountof any civil penalty, the Board or its designee shall consider (i) thehistory of previous violations at the pound; (ii) whether the violation hascaused injury to, death or suffering of, an animal; and (iii) thedemonstrated good faith of the locality to achieve compliance afternotification of the violation. All civil penalties assessed under thissection shall be recovered in a civil action brought by the Attorney Generalin the name of the Commonwealth. Such civil penalties shall be paid into aspecial fund in the state treasury to the credit of the Department to be usedin carrying out the purposes of this chapter.

L. If this chapter or any laws governing pounds are violated, theCommissioner may bring an action to enjoin the violation or threatenedviolation of this chapter or the regulations pursuant thereto regardingpounds, in the circuit court where the pound is located. The Commissioner mayrequest the Attorney General to bring such an action, when appropriate.

(1984, c. 492, 29-213.66; 1985, c. 21; 1987, c. 488; 1989, c. 344; 1993, c.817; 1994, c. 936; 1995, c. 496; 1997, c. 159; 1998, c. 817; 1999, cc. 627,672; 2000, c. 1010; 2002, cc. 53, 208, 787; 2003, c. 1007.)

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