16.52.080  <<  16.52.085 >>   16.52.090

RCW 16.52.085

Removal of animals for feeding and care—Examination—Notice—Euthanasia.

(1) If a law enforcement officer or animal control officer has probable cause to believe that an owner of a domestic animal has violated this chapter or a person owns, cares for, or resides with an animal in violation of an order issued under RCW 16.52.200(4) and no responsible person can be found to assume the animal's care, the officer may authorize, with a warrant, the removal of the animal to a suitable place for feeding and care, or may place the animal under the custody of an animal care and control agency. In determining what is a suitable place, the officer shall consider the animal's needs, including its size and behavioral characteristics. An officer may remove an animal under this subsection without a warrant only if the animal is in an immediate life-threatening condition.
(2) If a law enforcement officer or an animal control officer has probable cause to believe a violation of this chapter has occurred, the officer may authorize an examination of a domestic animal allegedly neglected or abused in violation of this chapter by a veterinarian to determine whether the level of neglect or abuse in violation of this chapter is sufficient to require removal of the animal. This section does not condone illegal entry onto private property.
(3) Any owner whose domestic animal is removed pursuant to this chapter shall be given written notice of the circumstances of the removal and notice of legal remedies available to the owner. The notice shall be given by posting at the place of seizure, by delivery to a person residing at the place of seizure, or by registered mail if the owner is known. In making the decision to remove an animal pursuant to this chapter, the officer shall make a good faith effort to contact the animal's owner before removal.
(4) The agency having custody of the animal may euthanize the animal or may find a responsible person to adopt the animal not less than fifteen business days after the animal is taken into custody. A custodial agency may euthanize severely injured, diseased, or suffering animals at any time. An owner may prevent the animal's destruction or adoption by: (a) Petitioning the district court of the county where the animal was seized for the animal's immediate return subject to court-imposed conditions, or (b) posting a bond or security in an amount sufficient to provide for the animal's care for a minimum of thirty days from the seizure date. If the custodial agency still has custody of the animal when the bond or security expires, the animal shall become the agency's property unless the court orders an alternative disposition. If a court order prevents the agency from assuming ownership and the agency continues to care for the animal, the court shall order the owner to post or renew a bond or security for the agency's continuing costs for the animal's care. When a court has prohibited the owner from owning, caring for, or residing with a similar animal under RCW 16.52.200(4), the agency having custody of the animal may assume ownership upon seizure and the owner may not prevent the animal's destruction or adoption by petitioning the court or posting a bond.
(5) If no criminal case is filed within fourteen business days of the animal's removal, the owner may petition the district court of the county where the animal was removed for the animal's return. The petition shall be filed with the court. Copies of the petition must be served on the law enforcement or animal care and control agency responsible for removing the animal and to the prosecuting attorney. If the court grants the petition, the agency which seized the animal must surrender the animal to the owner at no cost to the owner. If a criminal action is filed after the petition is filed but before the hearing on the petition, then the petition shall be joined with the criminal matter.
(6) In a motion or petition for the animal's return before a trial, the burden is on the owner to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the animal will not suffer future neglect or abuse and is not in need of being restored to health.
(7) Any authorized person treating or attempting to restore an animal to health under this chapter shall not be civilly or criminally liable for such action.
NOTES:
FindingIntent1994 c 261: See note following RCW 16.52.011.
Construction1987 c 335: "Nothing in this act shall be construed as expanding or diminishing, in any manner whatsoever, any authority granted officers under RCW 16.52.020 or 16.52.030." [ 1987 c 335 § 6.]
Severability1987 c 335: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [ 1987 c 335 § 7.]
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