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Substitute House Bill No. 5238

Public Act No. 04-145

AN ACT CONCERNING COMPANION ANIMAL HEALTH CERTIFICATES, ESTABLISHING AN ANIMAL ABUSE COST RECOVERY ACCOUNT AND THE RESTRAINT OR DISPOSAL OF DOGS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 22-329a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) The Chief Animal Control Officer, any animal control officer or any municipal or regional animal control officer may lawfully take charge of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated, in violation of sections 22-366, 22-415, as amended, and 53-247 to 53-252, inclusive, and shall thereupon proceed as provided in subsection (b) of this section, except that if, in the opinion of a licensed veterinarian, such animal is so injured or diseased that it should be destroyed immediately, such officer may humanely destroy or cause such animal to be humanely destroyed.

(b) Such officer shall file with the superior court which has venue over such matter a verified petition plainly stating such facts as to bring such animal within the jurisdiction of the court and praying for appropriate action by the court in accordance with the provisions of this section. Upon the filing of such petition the court shall cause a summons to be issued requiring the owner or owners or person having responsibility for the care of the animal, if known, to appear in court at the time and place named, which summons shall be served not less than fourteen days before the date of the hearing. If the owner or owners or person having responsibility for the care of the animal is not known, notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be given by publication in a newspaper having a circulation in the town in which such officer took charge of such animal not less than fourteen days before the date of the hearing. Such court shall further give notice to the petitioner of the time and place of the hearing not less than fourteen days before the date of the hearing.

(c) If it appears from the allegations of the petition and other affirmations of fact accompanying the petition, or provided subsequent thereto, that there is reasonable cause to find that the animal's condition or the circumstances surrounding its care require that its custody be immediately assumed to safeguard its welfare, the court shall either (1) issue an order to the owner or owners or person having responsibility for the care of the animal to show cause at such time as the court may designate why the court shall not vest in some suitable state, municipal or other public or private agency or person the animal's temporary care and custody pending a hearing on the petition or (2) issue an order vesting in some suitable state, municipal or other public or private agency or person the animal's temporary care and custody pending a hearing on the petition which hearing shall be held within ten days from the issuance of such order on the need for such temporary care and custody. The service of such orders may be made by any officer authorized by law to serve process, state police officer or indifferent person.

(d) If the court issues an order pursuant to subsection (c) of this section vesting the animal's temporary care and custody in some suitable state, municipal or other public or private agency or person, the owner or owners shall either relinquish ownership of the animal or post a surety bond or cash bond with the agency or person in whom the animal's temporary care and custody was vested. The surety bond or cash bond shall be in the amount of four hundred fifty dollars and shall secure payment for the reasonable expenses of the agency or person having temporary care and custody of the animal in caring and providing for such animal until the court makes a finding as to the animal's disposition under subsection (e) of this section or for thirty days, whichever occurs first. The requirement that a bond be posted may be waived if such owner provides satisfactory evidence that [he] such owner is indigent and unable to pay for such bond.

(e) (1) If, after hearing, the court finds that the animal is neglected or cruelly treated, it may vest ownership of the animal in any state, municipal or other public or private agency which is permitted by law to care for neglected or cruelly treated animals or with any person found to be suitable or worthy of such responsibility by the court.

(2) If, after hearing, the court finds that the animal is so injured or diseased that it should be destroyed, the court may order that such animal be humanely destroyed.

(3) If, after hearing, the court finds that the animal is not neglected or cruelly treated, it may cause the animal to be returned to its owner or owners or person having responsibility for its care or, if such owner or owners or person is unknown or unwilling to resume caring for such animal, it may vest ownership of the animal in any state, municipal or other public or private agency or person found to be suitable or worthy of such responsibility.

(4) If the court makes a finding under subdivision (1) or (2) of this subsection less than thirty days after the issuance of an order of temporary care and custody under subsection (c) of this section and the owner of the animal has posted a bond pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, the agency or person with whom the bond was posted shall return the balance of such bond to the owner. The amount of the bond to be returned to the owner shall be calculated at the rate of fifteen dollars per day for the number of days less than thirty that such agency or person has not had temporary care and custody of the animal.

(5) If the court makes a finding under subdivision (3) of this subsection after the issuance of an order of temporary care and custody under subsection (c) of this section and the owner of the animal has posted a bond pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, the agency or person with whom the bond was posted shall return such bond to such owner.

(f) Unless the court finds that the animal is not neglected or cruelly treated, the expense incurred by the state or a municipality in providing proper food, shelter and care to an animal it has taken charge of under subsection (a) of this section and the expense incurred by any state, municipal or other public or private agency or person in providing temporary care and custody to an animal under subsection (c) of this section, calculated at the rate of fifteen dollars per day, shall be paid by the owner or owners or person having responsibility for the care of the animal.

(g) If the court vests ownership of the animal in the Commissioner of Agriculture pursuant to subdivision (1) of subsection (e) of this section, the commissioner may conduct a public auction of the animal under such conditions the commissioner deems necessary or the commissioner may consign the animal to a livestock auction. In a case where rehabilitative or special care of such animal is required, the commissioner may vest ownership of such animal in an individual or a public or private nonprofit animal rescue or adoption organization which annually places ten or more animals in private homes as pets.

(h) There is established a separate, nonlapsing account within the General Fund, to be known as the "animal abuse cost recovery account". All moneys collected from sales at public auction of domestic animals seized by the Department of Agriculture pursuant to this section shall be deposited into the account. Deposits of moneys may be made into the account from public or private sources, including, but not limited to, the federal government or municipal governments.

(i) Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, any moneys received by the Department of Agriculture pursuant to subsection (h) of this section shall be deposited in the General Fund and credited to the animal abuse cost recovery account. The account shall be available to the Commissioner of Agriculture for the purpose of the housing, care and welfare of any domestic animal seized by the department, until final disposition of such animal. Nothing in this section shall prevent the commissioner from obtaining or using funds from sources other than the account for the housing, care and welfare of any domestic animal seized by the department pursuant to this section.

(j) The commissioner shall report annually concerning the activities and status of the animal abuse cost recovery account to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to appropriations and agriculture.

Sec. 2. Section 22-354 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

Any dog or cat imported into this state shall be accompanied by a certificate of health issued no earlier than thirty days prior to the date of importation by a licensed, graduate veterinarian stating that such dog or cat is free from symptoms of any infectious, contagious or communicable disease, and that such dog or cat, if three months of age or older, is currently vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian. A copy of such health certificate shall be forwarded promptly to the commissioner from the livestock sanitary official of the state of origin. Any dog or cat originating from a rabies quarantine area must have permission of the State Veterinarian prior to importation into this state. No person, firm or corporation shall import or export for the purposes of sale or offering for sale any dog or cat under the age of eight weeks unless such dog or cat is transported with its dam and no person, firm or corporation shall sell within the state any dog or cat under the age of eight weeks. Any person, firm or corporation violating the provisions of this section or bringing any dog or cat into this state from an area under quarantine for rabies shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days or both.

Sec. 3. Section 22-358 of the general statutes is amended by adding subsection (g) as follows (Effective from passage):

(NEW) (g) Not later than January 1, 2005, the Commissioner of Agriculture shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to provide for an expedited appeal and hearing process regarding the restraint or disposal of dogs pursuant to this section. Such regulations shall provide for a final determination by the commissioner not later than sixty days after the filing of such appeals.

Approved May 21, 2004