Wednesday, October 3, 2012

PA Senate Bill 1527

The PA Federation of Dog Clubs opposes SB 1527 andHB 2409.

Our opposition is based on your Due Process Rights and how this legislation will impact them.

Basically, this legislation will allow a court to order you to pay for the care and upkeep of your animals seized by the government in an alleged abuse situation. If you fail to pay as ordered, the court could force you to forfeit them. The legislation also provides immunity for shelters against future lawsuits to recover such funds should your charges be thrown out or you are found not-guilty.
The problem is a person who cannot pay may lose the rights to their animals even though they are found not guilty at trial. The forfeiture provision prior to a declaration of guilt is a significant Constitutional issue. If an animal is siezed and a case cannot be proven in court, the owner should get their animals back. The state (or siezing agency) should pay the care costs.
Second, a single opportunity to access the animals prior to the hearing to preserve evidence is inadequate. They must have access within 24-48 hours after seizure to be able to document the condition of the animal at the time of seizure. Access later precludes a reasonable opportunity to provide a defense since the condition of the animal may have changed without an opportunity to obtain independent contemporaneous veterinary inspection.
This type of pre-conviction seizure of property was held to be Unconstitutional in a Federal Court considering similar legislation in the City of Louisville, Kentucky. It is hard to imagine how it could be Constitutional here.
Responsible dog owners should contact the PA state legislators immediately to oppose these Bills!

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