SECOND REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR
HOUSE BILL NO. 1444
96TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
4882L.04P D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk
To repeal sections 578.018 and 578.030, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof two new sections relating to confiscated animals, with a penalty provision.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Section 578.018 and 578.030, RSMo, are repealed and two new sections enacted in lieu thereof, to be known as sections 578.018 and 578.030, to read as follows:
578.018. 1. Any duly authorized [public health official or] law enforcement official may seek a warrant from the appropriate court to enable him to enter private property in order to inspect, care for, or impound neglected or abused animals. All requests for such warrants shall be accompanied by an affidavit stating the probable cause to believe a violation of sections 578.005 to [578.023] 578.025 has occurred. A person acting under the authority of a warrant shall:
(1) Be given a disposition hearing before the court through which the warrant was issued, within thirty days of the filing of the request for the purpose of granting immediate disposition of the animals impounded. No animal shall be sterilized prior to the completion of such disposition hearing unless necessary to save life or relieve suffering;
(2) Place impounded animals in the care or custody of a veterinarian, the appropriate animal control authority, [or] an animal shelter, or third party approved by the court. If no appropriate veterinarian, animal control authority, [or] animal shelter, or third party is available, the animal shall not be impounded unless it is diseased or disabled beyond recovery for any useful purpose;
(3) Humanely kill any animal impounded if it is determined by a licensed veterinarian that the animal is diseased or disabled beyond recovery for any useful purpose;
(4) Not be liable for any necessary damage to property while acting under such warrant. 2. (1) The owner of any animal that has been impounded under this section shall not be responsible for the animal’s care and keeping prior to a disposition hearing if the court determines that the animal was taken unlawfully.
(2) After completion of the disposition hearing, the owner or custodian or any person claiming an interest in any animal that has been impounded because of neglect or abuse may prevent disposition of the animal after the disposition hearing and until final judgment, settlement, or dismissal or the case by posting reasonable bond or security within 72 hours of the disposition hearing in an amount sufficient to provide for the animal's care and keeping [for at least thirty days, inclusive of the date on which the animal was taken into custody]. Notwithstanding the fact that reasonable bond may be posted pursuant to this [subsection] subdivision, the authority having custody of the animal may humanely dispose of the animal at the end of the time for which reasonable expenses are covered by the bond or security, unless there is a court order prohibiting such disposition. Such order shall provide for a reasonable bond or other security in the amount necessary to protect the authority having custody of the animal from any cost of the care, keeping or disposal of the animal.
(3) The authority taking custody of an animal shall give notice of the provisions of this section by posting a copy of this section at the place where the animal was taken into custody or by delivering it to a person residing on the property.
3. The owner or custodian of any animal humanely killed pursuant to this section shall not be entitled to recover any damages related to nor the actual value of the animal if the animal was found by a licensed veterinarian to be diseased or disabled beyond recovery for any useful purpose, or if the owner or custodian failed to post bond or security for the care, keeping and disposition of the animal after being notified of impoundment and after completion of the disposition hearing.
4. All animals impounded under this section shall receive proper care as determined by state law and regulations for each specific animal and facility or organization where the animal is placed after such impoundment. Any such facility or organization shall be liable to the owner for damages for any negligent acts or abuse of such animal which occurs while the animal is in the care, custody, and control of such facility or organization.
5. If the owner posted a sufficient bond and is acquitted or there is a final discharge without conviction, unless there is a settlement agreement, consent judgment, or a suspended imposition of sentence, the owner may demand the return of the animal held in custody. Any entity with care, custody, and control of such animal shall immediately return such animal to the owner upon demand and proof of such acquittal or final discharge without conviction. Upon acquittal or final discharge without conviction unless there is a settlement agreement, consent judgment, or a suspended imposition of sentence, the owner shall not be liable for any costs incurred relating to the placement or care of the animal during the pendency of the charges.
6. Any person or entity that intentionally euthanizes, other than as permissible under this section, or intentionally sterilizes an animal prior to a disposition hearing or during any period for which reasonable bond was secured for the animal's care is guilty of a class B misdemeanor. Each individual animal for which a violation occurs is a separate offense. Any second or subsequent violation is a class A misdemeanor and any entity licensed under state law shall be subject to licensure sanction by its governing body.
578.030. 1. The provisions of section 43.200 notwithstanding, any member of the state highway patrol or other law enforcement officer may apply for and serve a search warrant, and shall have the power of search and seizure in order to enforce the provisions of sections 578.025 to 578.050.
2. Any member of the state highway patrol or other law enforcement officer making an arrest under section 578.025 shall lawfully take possession of all dogs or other animals in accordance with the provisions of 578.018 and all paraphernalia, implements, or other property or things used or employed, or about to be employed, in the violation of any of the provisions of section 578.025. Such officer, after taking possession of such dogs, animals, paraphernalia, implements or other property or things, shall file with the court before whom the complaint is made against any person so arrested an affidavit stating therein the name of the person charged in such complaint, a description of the property so taken and the time and place of the taking thereof together with the name of the person from whom the same was taken and the name of the person who claims to own such property, if known, and that the affiant has reason to believe and does believe, stating the ground of such belief, that the property so taken was used or employed, or was about to be used or employed, in such violation of section 578.025. He shall thereupon deliver the property so taken to the court, which shall, by order in writing, place the same in the custody of an officer or other proper person named and designated in such order, to be kept by him until the conviction or final discharge of such person complained against, and shall send a copy of such order without delay to the prosecuting attorney of the county. The officer or person so named and designated in such order shall immediately thereupon assume the custody of such property and shall retain the same, subject to the order of the court before which such person so complained against may be required to appear for trial. If the property includes animals or dogs, the placement of the animals or dogs shall be in handled accordance with the provision of 578.018. Upon the conviction of the person so charged, all property so seized shall be adjudged by the court to be forfeited and shall thereupon be destroyed or otherwise disposed of as the court may order. In the event of the acquittal or final discharge without conviction of the person so charged, such court shall, on demand, direct the delivery of such property so held in custody to the owner thereof.