Thursday, September 1, 2011

ASK GOVERNOR BROWN TO VETO AB 1117



AB 1117 has passed both legislative bodies and is on to the Governor's desk now for signature.

 


Dear Governor Brown:

Please veto AB 1117.

It is unfair to MANDATE no pets or animals to be owned for five years on a misdemeanor charge. 

Please let the judicial system do its job and decide the penalties.

Many cities such as Oakland have time limits on tethering of dogs. If one were to overstay this time limit by minutes, this misdemeanor charge would result in losing their dog and ALL other pets for FIVE YEARS.


AB 1117 would extend civil asset forfeiture to include animals. Existing law requires a convicted person to pay for the costs involved with seizing and impounding their animals. AB 1117 would extend the lien on animals based simply upon a correctly issued warrant. This would be not only unjust, but onerous and cost-prohibitive to most owners, who would be forced to forfeit their animals even if innocent. The animals would then further add to the financial strain on local shelters.
This bill would require any order prohibiting ownership to also prohibit the person from possessing, maintaining, having custody of, residing with, or caring for animals of any kind.  It would further require the owner to make "additional showings" in order for the court to direct the release of seized or impounded animals. This bill creates 5 and 10-year probation periods. This mandated monitoring for extended periods of time would significantly impact local budgets, already strained with the economic recession. 
This bill creates a new misdemeanor offense for a person found to be in violation of the animal-possession injunction. This bill may exacerbate the current overcrowding crisis in county jails, since a person who violates an animal-ban order is subject to prosecution for a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. Under the influence of AB 109, moving state inmates to jails and probation control, costs to monitor for extended probation periods will be considerable.
  
Sentencing terms and conditions of probation are best left to the discretion of judges based on each individual case. For instance, a case of neglect may be as minor as leaving an animal without water, yet the offender would be prohibited from owning or residing with family members who have animals for a proscribed period of between five to ten years. This could adversely impact those people with guide dogs or other service animals.
The California Judges Association opposes the elimination of judicial discretion and noted in the May 18, 2011 analysis: An enjoining order would probably be appropriate in most cases of animal abuse, but exceptional cases can arise". The California Judges Association concludes:
                                                            "AB 1117 goes too far."
AB 1117 is unnecessary. Judges already have the discretion to enter an order forbidding persons from caring for animals when warranted. Making this order mandatory could unjustly impact individuals who make a living working with or caring for animals. It could also be detrimental to those who depend on therapy dogs.  While this Bill makes an exemption regarding residing with animals for stockowners, other animal owners, for instance an animal trainer, or one who owns a therapy dog, should have the same consideration. This again should be subject to judicial discretion, and not a blanket mandate.
   
The Bill would have the party that made the seizure determine whether the convicted party can abide by these "future" events.  This is a conflict of interest. A court should determine this, if necessary. The person convicted of animal abuse must prove various future conditions; that he owns the animal, that he has paid the costs of seizure, that the animals are physically fit, that he will provide the necessary care, and that he can legally retain all the animals in question. This is asking an individual to prove acts in the future, which is impossible.

TAKE ACTION / CALL Gov. Jerry Brown, tell him to veto AB 1117
Phone: (916) 445-2841 / Fax: (916) 558-3160

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