Section 31. If an owner is entitled to compensation for the killing of an animal or the destruction of other property under this chapter, and cannot agree with the director as to its value, the director and the owner may each select an arbitrator, and if the owner neglects or refuses to select an arbitrator within twenty-four hours after notice that the director has selected one, the arbitrator selected by the director may select another. In each case if the two arbitrators cannot agree as to the value, they may select a third. The arbitrators shall be sworn to the faithful performance of their duties and shall determine the value within the limits provided by sections eleven to fourteen, inclusive, and the amount so fixed shall be paid to the owner.
If the owner’s right to compensation is in dispute, if either party prefers to submit the amount of damages to judicial determination, or if the award of the arbitrators is unsatisfactory to either party, the owner or the director may, within thirty days after the killing of such animal or the destruction of such property, or, if arbitrators have been appointed, within thirty days after the date of their award, file a petition for the assessment of damages in the superior court for Suffolk county or for the county where the killing or destruction occurred. A copy of the petition shall be served upon the adverse party. If upon such petition it appears that the owner is entitled by law to compensation, the damages shall be assessed under chapter seventy-nine within the limits provided by sections eleven to fourteen, inclusive, of this chapter. The damages, costs and expenses incurred by the director in prosecuting or defending the petition shall be paid by the commonwealth.