Chapter 10.24 Impoundment
Sec. 10.24.010 Voluntary Surrender of Animal for Euthanasia: Not Impoundment.
Any animal which is voluntarily surrendered by its owner or person in control of such animal to the Department of Animal Care and Control for the purpose of euthanasia shall not be deemed to be impounded and need not be kept for any minimum period of time as otherwise specified in this Title.
Sec. 10.24.020 Persons Authorized to Impound Animals
- Impoundment by Public Officer.
Any Animal Care and Control Officer or Peace Officer may impound any animal when the officer deems it necessary in the interest of public health and safety or to prevent needless suffering of any animal.
- Citizen Impoundment.
Any person who finds any animal which has strayed or is running at large upon their property or any public place in violation of this Title may take possession of and hold the same; provided, however, that the person be obligated to notify the Department of Animal Care and Control within twenty-four (24) hours of securing possession or control of the animal and give the Department of Animal Care and Control complete information regarding the impoundment and shall surrender the animal to the Animal Care and Control Officer upon demand. The taker-up shall provide adequate, safe proper care to the animal in conformance with the provisions of Penal Code Sections 597, 597(a), 597(e) and 597(f).
If the taker-up of a stray, retains the dog in his/her possession, he or she shall publish a Notice of Possession of such dog in a local newspaper or post such notice in a conspicuous place to which the public has access for a period of ten (10) days. An announcement on radio or television for the same period of time may be substituted for the publishing or posting requirement. The notice shall describe the animal found as to breed, size, color, sex and any other identifying marks or license and shall state the date and place where it was taken up, where currently confined and in whose possession. The taker-up of such stray dog may have a lien for all reasonable expenses which are incurred in taking up, keeping and caring for it and the cost of publication required by this section.
Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements constitutes a misdemeanor.
Sec. 10.24.030 Notification of Impoundment.
The impounding officer shall, except as otherwise provided, prepare within twenty-four (24) hours after impounding any animal, legal notice to be mailed by certified mail to the owner, or keeper of such animal at their residence or regular place of business, if such owner or keeper is known. Such notice shall state that the animal has been impounded, shall give the date and place of impoundment, shall describe the animal, shall state that if the animal is not claimed within ten (10) days of the mailing of such notice, or a longer period if stated in such notice, and that such animal will be disposed of in accordance with county policy.
Upon the impounding of any bovine animal, horse, mule, or burro the Department shall notify the office of the Agricultural Commissioner and the state brand inspector, and the Commissioner.s office shall take possession of any bovine for further disposition according to Fd. & Agr. Code Section 17003.
Sec. 10.24.040 Impoundment of Dogs Running at Large.
An Animal Care and Control Officer shall not seize or impound a dog for running at large when the dog has not strayed from and is upon the private property of the dog owner or the person who has a right to control the dog, or upon private property to which the dog owner or person who has a right to control the dog has a right of possession.
An Animal Care and Control Officer shall not seize or impound a dog which has strayed from, but then returned to, the private property of his owner or the person who has a right to control the dog, but in such case, a citation may be issued. If the owner or person who has a right to control the dog is not at home, the dog may then be impounded. The Animal Care and Control Officer shall then post a notice of such impoundment on the front door of the residence of the owner or person who has a right to control the dog. The notice shall state the following: (1) the dog has been impounded, (2) where the dog is being held, (3) the name, address, and telephone number of the agency or person to be contacted regarding the release of the dog, and (4) an indication of the ultimate disposition of the dog if no action to regain it is taken within a specified period of time by its owner or by the person who has a right to control the dog.
This section shall not be construed as prohibiting any person from killing a dog in the situations authorized by Food and Agricultural Code Sections 31102, 31104, 31152.
Sec. 10.24.050 Summary Seizure and Post Seizure Hearing.
An Animal Care and Control Officer may place in protective custody hold, seize or impound an animal for violation of any provision of this Title or State law prior to a hearing in any of the following situations where the owner is not present and where the officer reasonably believes it is necessary:
- To protect public health, safety and property;
- To protect an animal which is injured, sick, or starving and must be cared for; and
- To protect an animal from injury which has strayed into public property or public right-of-way.
If the owner or person who has the right to control the animal wishes to challenge the impoundment, he/she shall personally deliver or mail a written request for a hearing, such that it is received by the Director of Animal Care and Control within seventy-two (72) hours of the seizure and impoundment. Whenever an animal is impounded without a prior hearing, the Department of Animal Care and Control shall notify the owner of such impoundment at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Director of Animal Care and Control, upon receipt of a Notice of Appeal, shall immediately set a time, date and place for a hearing on said matter before the Animal Care and Control Appeals and Advisory Board. Said hearing shall be held not less than five, nor more than ten days after the filing of the Notice of Appeal. Notice of such hearing shall immediately be given to the owner at the address shown in the Notice of Appeal. During the pendency of any appeal from an order of impoundment or abatement, the animal impounded may be maintained in the County impound facility or other approved facilities in the case for large domestic animals.
The hearing shall be conducted as set forth in Section 10.24.070 of this Chapter.
In the case of animals being impounded pursuant to Penal Code 597.1 the Department shall follow the pre and post seizure hearing processes that are described therein.
Sec. 10.24.060 Hearing Prior to Animal Deprivation.
Except as provided in Section 10.24.050 of this Chapter, a Peace Officer, agents of the Department of Public Health and the Department of Animal Care and Control may not seize or impound any animal, unless an appeal hearing is held as set forth in Section 10.24.070 of this Chapter.
If the owner or person who has a right to control an animal refuses to consent to an impoundment of his/her animal, the Animal Care and Control Officer may issue a notice commanding the person to appear before the Animal Care and Control Appeals and Advisory Board (Hearing Officers) at a set time.
Sec. 10.24.070 Appeal Hearing.
At the time, date and place set for said hearing, the Animal Care and Control Appeals and Advisory Board shall hold a hearing at which the aggrieved owner may appear and testify as to any matters relevant to the proceeding. The Animal Care and Control Officer, County Health Officer, or Sheriff shall present all evidence, oral and documentary, justifying said order of seizure and impoundment or abatement. Each party may call such witnesses as shall be necessary to present testimony on matters relevant to the hearing. Technical rules of evidence shall not apply to said proceedings, and the Board may hear and consider any evidence it deems relevant and upon which reasonable men would be likely to rely in the consideration of matters of a serious nature. The decision of the Board shall be supported by the weight of evidence.
Upon the conclusion of the hearing, the Board shall determine whether to sustain or overrule the Animal Care and Control Officer, Health Department or Sheriff Department.s order of seizure and impoundment or abatement or whether the animal should be destroyed.
If the order of seizure and impoundment or abatement is not appealed or if such order is sustained after a hearing, in those cases where there is no order for destruction, the animal seized shall not be released to the owner until the owner pays all fees, charges or costs of the impounding and care for such animal, and said animal owner signs a written promise to control said animal and to prevent said animal from trespassing, or causing damage to property, or being vicious or demonstrating that it is potentially vicious or in any manner causing a public nuisance. If all fees, charges, fines, and penalties are not paid or the written promises to abate is not filed within five (5) days of the date that said order of abatement becomes final, the animal impounded shall be placed in a suitable home or humanely destroyed by the impounding agency.
If any seizure and impoundment or order for abatement is overruled by the Board, the animal impounded shall be released forthwith and the County shall bear all costs and expenses of such impoundment. Nothing in this Section shall be deemed to exempt any owner from any fines or penalties imposed by failure to have such animal duly and properly licensed or registered.
In the event any animal owner is ordered to abate a nuisance and the owner fails to take appropriate action which results in the animal continuing to be a nuisance, the animal will be impounded and placed in a suitable home or humanely destroyed by the impounding agency, the Board may order that no further kennel license or permit be issued to such kennel licensee or a vicious dog or dangerous exotic animal permittee pursuant to this chapter for any such period of time, not to exceed one (1) year, as the Board may determine.
Sec. 10.24.080 Failure to Appeal Impoundment . Redemption.
Any person who fails to appeal any seizure or impoundment or order of abatement by the Animal Care and Control Officer, the Department of Health or the Sheriff.s Department, or their authorized agents, will forfeit all rights of ownership and control of the animal to the Department of Animal Care and Control. Final disposition of the animal shall be determined by that agency in accordance with the provisions of this Title and State law.
Subject to the due process rights described in this Chapter, any animal impounded by the Department of Animal Care and Control or placed in its custody at the request of any law enforcement agency or by a court shall at the expiration of ten (10) days following such initial impoundment or placement become the property of the County of Mendocino for disposition.
Where the impounded animal is in need of medical treatment for injury or illness not caused by the Department of Animal Care and Control, and the Department of Animal Care and Control does provide medical treatment for such injury or illness, the owner of such animal shall reimburse the Department of Animal Care and Control for all medical treatment charges incurred before such animal may be released from custody.
- The new owner signs a written agreement acknowledging the dog or cat is not spayed or neutered and agrees to be responsible for ensuring the dog or cat will be spayed or neutered within thirty (30) business days after the agreement is signed. However, animals that are too young to be spayed or neutered at the time of adoption, may be granted an extension. The period of time shall be at the direction of the County Veterinarian, but in no case over eight (8) months of age will be allowed, otherwise the deposit shall be deemed unclaimed and forfeited.
- The new owner pays a deposit of not less than forty dollars ($40) and not more than seventyfive dollars ($75) the terms of which are part of the written agreement executed.
- A program to spay or neuter dogs and cats.
- A public education program to reduce and prevent overpopulation of dogs and cats, and the related costs.
- A follow-up program to ensure that dogs and cats adopted or transferred are spayed or neutered in accordance with the adoption agreements.
- Any additional costs incurred by the Department in the administration of the requirements of this section.
Upon proper identification or ownership or entitlement to possession of an impounded animal, such person may redeem the impounded animal after any applicable hearing and unless an order for destruction has been entered after the hearing. Such proof of ownership or right to custody made to the Sheriff in the case of large impounded animals shall entitle such person to redeem the impounded large animal.
The same animal being redeemed from impoundment for a second or third time offense shall be redeemed by none other than its actual owner.
The owner of a nonspayed or unneutered dog or cat that is impounded once by a city or county Animal Care and Control agency or contracting agency, shall be fined thirty-five dollars ($35) on the first occurrence, fifty dollars ($50) on the second occurrence, and one hundred dollars ($100) for the third or subsequent occurrences. These fines are for unaltered impounded animals only, and are not in lieu of any fines or impound or other fees imposed by any individual city or the county.
Upon the second or subsequent impoundment of a dog or cat, the Department of Animal Care and Control may not waive the impounding and penalty fees for any such unaltered animal. Prior to the release of this subsequently unaltered dog or cat, the Department of Animal Care and Control shall require that the animal be spayed or neutered and shall require the owner to pay the impounding fee established by resolution and to deposit the fees for spay/neutering in the account provided for such purposes.
No dog shall be redeemed without (1) a valid rabies vaccination certificate, (2) current valid dog license, and (3) payment of the fees or charges for impoundment, board and care, or veterinary services rendered. The foregoing fees or charges may be waived at the discretion of the Department of Animal Care and Control upon review of mitigating circumstances or factors presented by the party seeking redemption which justify such.
No large domestic animal shall be redeemed without payment of fees and charges to cover impoundment, capture, hauling and any other expenses incurred in taking up the animal.
The animal or dog impounded by an Animal Care and Control Officer or Peace Officer into his patrol vehicle prior to being impounded at the animal shelter for reasons of violations of this Title, or for the health and safety of the animal, may be released to its owner, or the person entitled to custody upon proper identification, by the Animal Care and Control Officer at his/her discretion. However, a Notice of Warning or Citation may be issued to the owner or other person entitled to custody. It is a misdemeanor for any person to remove any animal from the custody of the impounding officer without the express permission of the officer.
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the county shall not place for adoption any dog or cat that has not been spayed or neutered.
The County may transfer to a new owner a dog or cat that has not been spayed or neutered under the following circumstances:
The County may extend the date by which spaying or neutering is to be completed at its discretion for good cause being shown. Any extension shall be in writing.
If a veterinarian licensed to practice veterinary medicine in this state certifies that the animal is too sick or injured or that it would otherwise be detrimental to the health of the animal to be spayed or neutered the adopter shall pay a spaying and neutering deposit.
The County may enter into cooperative agreements with non-profit organizations and veterinarians in lieu of requiring spaying and neutering deposits to carry out this section.
Fees for adoption including spay and neuter deposits are set forth by resolution of the Board of Supervisors. All spay and neuter deposits shall be placed in the Spay and Neuter Trust Account that was established by the Board of Supervisors.
Spay and neuter deposits are refundable to the new owner if proof of alteration is presented to the County not more than thirty (30) business days after the date the animal was altered, otherwise the deposit is forfeited.
All spaying or neutering deposits forfeited or unclaimed under this section shall be retained by the County and expended only for the following purposes:
All dogs and cats adopted or sold from nonprofit organizations shall be altered under the same terms and under the same conditions as for City or County.
As a condition of adoption, the adoptee shall agree in writing to provide proper and adequate care in accordance with the law. Any adoptee who is in violation of Penal Code Section 597(a) through (t), or who repeatedly allows an adopted dog to be at large, fails to obtain required vaccination and license, fails to spay or neuter the dog or cat, or allows such animal to become a nuisance or to be in three (3) repeated violations of this Title, or one (1) violation involving killing or critically wounding livestock, or it has been verified that such dog has bitten a human being, shall be prohibited from any further adoption of animals from any County Animal Shelter. Such animal shall then be taken up and impounded and not returned to the adoptee. The offending dog(s) in the killing or wounding of livestock or biting persons may not be put up for further adoption and may be humanely euthanized. Such adoptee shall forthwith forfeit any right or title to the animal which will then become the property of the County. Adoptee may be subject to any fees, charges, penalties or citations or any other liabilities by the animal.
No person shall give false or misleading information to the Department of Animal Care and Control in the adoption of an impounded animal to avoid penalties, fees, or charges for impoundment and boarding care.
Except for bovine animals, the Department of Animal Care and Control shall sell all large domestic animals not redeemed, securing for such animal the highest possible price. All sale shall be for cash. The Animal Care and Control Director shall deduct from the proceeds of any such sale all the proper fees and charges for taking-up, transporting and keeping such animal and all reasonable and proper demands made pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. Any balance remaining after the payment of such fees, charges, and demands shall be paid into the County Treasury for the use of the prior owner of such animal. If such funds are not claimed by such owner within thirty (30) days thereafter, such funds shall be paid into the General Fund of the County.
The Animal Care and Control Department may reject any or all bids not deemed to be adequate. In the event any large domestic animal advertised for sale pursuant to this Section not be sold within ten (10) days after the date of the first notice of sale, the Director of Animal Care and Control may sell such animal to any person, or if such animal cannot be sold, the Director may order the animal destroyed in any humane manner.
Sec. 10.24.090 Disposition of Impounded Dogs, Cats and Other Animals Excluding Large Domestic Animals.
- Dogs and Cats.
- If the animal shelter has made the dog or cat available for owner redemption on one weekday evening until at least 7:00 p.m. or one weekend day, the holding period shall be four business days, not including the day of impoundment.
- If the animal shelter has fewer than three full-time employees or is not open during all regular weekday business hours, and if it has established a procedure to enable owners to reclaim their dog or cat by appointment at a mutually agreeable time when the shelter would otherwise be closed, the holding period shall be four business days, not including the day of impoundment.
- Other than Dogs, Cats, and Large Domestic Animals.
- Holding Periods for Relinquished Animals.
The required holding period for a stray dog or cat impounded pursuant to this chapter shall be six (6) business days, not including the day of impoundment, except as follows:
Except as provided in Fd. & Agr. Code Section 17006, stray dogs and cats shall be held for owner redemption during the first three (3) days of the holding period, not including the day of impoundment, and shall be available for owner redemption or adoption for the remainder of the holding period.
Pursuant to Fd. & Agr. Code Section 17006, animals that are irremediably suffering from a serious illness or severe injury shall not be held for owner redemption or adoption. Newborn animals that need maternal care and have been impounded without their mothers may be euthanized without being held for owner redemption or adoption.
Any stray dog or cat that is impounded pursuant to this chapter shall, prior to the killing of that animal for any reason other than irremediable suffering, be released to a nonprofit, as defined in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, animal rescue or adoption organization if requested by the organization prior to the scheduled killing of that animal. In addition to any required spay or neuter deposit, the County, at its discretion, may assess a fee, not to exceed the standard adoption fee, for animals released.
Notwithstanding Section 10.24.090 (A), if an apparently feral cat has not been reclaimed by its owner or caretaker within the first three (3) days of the required holding period, shelter personnel qualified to verify the temperament of the animal shall verify whether it is feral or tame by using a standardized protocol. If the cat is determined to be docile or a frightened or difficult tame cat, the cat shall be held for the entire required holding period specified in Section 10.24.090 (A). If the cat is determined to be truly feral, the cat may be euthanized or relinquished to a nonprofit, as defined in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, animal adoption organization that agrees to the spaying or neutering of the cat if it has not already been spayed or neutered. In addition to any required spay or neuter deposit, the County, at its discretion, may assess a fee, not to exceed the standard adoption fee, for the animal release.
For the purposes of this section, a .feral cat. is defined as a cat without owner identification of any kind whose usual and consistent temperament is extreme fear and resistance to contact with people. A feral cat is totally unsocialized to people.
Holding periods for any rabbit, guinea pig, hamster, pot-bellied pig, bird, lizard, snake, turtle, or tortoise legally allowed as personal property impounded shall be held for the same period of time, under the same requirements of care, and with the same opportunities for redemption and adoption by new owners or nonprofit, as defined in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, animal rescue or adoption organizations as cats and dogs. Food and Agricultural Section 17006 shall also apply to these animals. In addition to any required spay or neuter deposit, the County, at its discretion, may assess a fee, not to exceed the standard adoption fee, for animals released to nonprofit animal rescue or adoption organizations pursuant to this section.
Except as provided in Fd. & Agr. Code Section 17006, any animal relinquished by the purported owner that is of a species impounded shall be held for the same holding periods, with the same requirements of care, applicable to stray dogs and cats in 10.24.090 (A), except that the period for owner redemption shall be one (1) day, not including the day of impoundment, and the period for owner redemption or adoption shall be the remainder of the holding period.
The Department of Animal Care and Control may retain any dog, cat or animal under a protective custody hold beyond the holding period at no charge to the owner pending the completion of an investigation and determination of final disposition. It shall be limited to a period of ten (10) days unless a further extension of time is necessary and required at the discretion of the Department of Animal Care and Control or by a written order of the Court.
In lieu of destruction, any dog or cat, at the discretion of the Department of Animal Care and Control, may be returned to the Department of Animal Care and Control should such agency be unable to provide adoption for said animal.
Pursuant to Fd. & Agr. 17006, animals that are irremediably suffering from a serious illness or severe injury shall not be held for owner redemption or adoption. Newborn animals that need maternal care and have been impounded without their mothers may be euthanized without being held for owner redemption or adoption.