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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE POSTING OF A SECURITY FOR SEIZED ANIMALS IN CRUELTY CASES.

      Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:            
     
Chapter 272 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 104, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
      Section 104.  (a) As used in this section, the word “authority” shall mean an organization or the authorized agent of an organization that seizes or impounds an animal pursuant to the General Laws.
      (b)  If an animal is seized or impounded pursuant to section 112 of chapter 266 or section 77 or 94 of chapter 272 resulting in the issuance of a criminal complaint or a criminal indictment, the authority or prosecuting agency, including the district attorney or attorney general, may file a petition with the court requesting that the person from whom the animal was seized or a person claiming an interest in the seized animal be ordered to post a security. The authority or prosecuting agency shall serve a copy of the petition on the person from whom the animal was seized or who is claiming an interest in the seized animal; provided, however, that if such a person cannot be found, service may be made by posting a copy of the petition at the place from which the animal was seized. If the petition is filed by the authority, the authority shall also serve a copy of the petition on the prosecuting agency.
      (c)  The security shall be in an amount sufficient to secure payment for the reasonable expenses incurred by the authority that has custody of the seized or impounded animal and the reasonable expenses anticipated by the authority. In determining the amount of the security, expenses shall be calculated from the date of seizure or impoundment and continue until the authority ends custody of the animal; provided, however, that the amount shall be determined for a period of not less than 30 days. The amount of the security shall be determined by the court upon the recommendation of the authority. Reasonable expenses shall include, but shall not be limited to, estimated medical care, quarantine costs, shelter and board.
      (d)  When a security is posted in accordance with this section, the authority may draw from the security the actual, reasonable costs incurred for medical care, quarantine costs, shelter, board and any other expenses ordered by the court. If the expenses already incurred by the seizing authority at the time of judicial decision on the petition exceed the petitioned for security amount, the court may order the security to be paid in its entirety to the authority through the court or directly from the respondent to the authority, as the court deems appropriate in the interest of justice.
      (e)  If the court orders the posting of a security, the security shall be posted with the clerk within 10 business days of the court’s allowance of the petition. The defendant’s failure to post the security within the appointed time shall be deemed an immediate forfeiture of the seized animal to the authority. The court may waive the security requirement or reduce the amount of the security for good cause. The court may extend the time for posting the security with the clerk; provided, however, that the time between the court’s allowance of the petition and the posting shall be not more than 20 business days.
      (f)  The posting of the security shall not prevent the authority from euthanizing the seized or impounded animal for humane reasons before the expiration of the period covered by the security; provided, however, that the euthanasia shall be done in a humane manner.
      (g)  The authority may humanely transfer or euthanize the animal at the end of the period for which expenses are covered by the security if a transfer or euthanasia is ordered by the court. If the transfer or euthanasia order is denied, the court may require the animal’s owner or custodian or any other person claiming interest in the animal to provide an additional security to secure payment of reasonable expenses and to extend the period of time pending adjudication by the court of the charges against the person from whom the animal was seized.
      (h)  The owner or custodian of an animal, or a person claiming interest in such an animal pursuant to this section, that is humanely transferred or euthanized shall not be entitled to recover damages or the actual value of the animal if the owner, custodian or other person failed to post the required security.
      (i)  The court may direct a refund to the person who posted the security, in whole or part, for expenses not incurred by the authority. The court may direct a refund to the person who posted security upon acquittal of the charges.

Approved, January 13, 2017