CHAPTER 104

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 133

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 79, TITLE 3, DELAWARE CODE, RELATING TO IMPOUNDMENT AND DISPOSITION OF ANIMALS.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend Chapter 79 of Title 3, Delaware Code by adding thereto a new section to be designated as §7907 to read as follows:

"§7907. Impoundment and Disposition of Animals

Any agent in Sussex and New Castle Counties of this State, so appointed by the Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or in Kent County of this State, so appointed by the Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals may, in instances of alleged acts of animal cruelty and as provided for by the laws of Delaware relating to seizure of property, impound in the appropriate S.P.C.A. shelter or, If required, in an appropriate veterinarian facility, any animal subjected to cruel mistreatment or cruel neglect. Should the owner or custodian of an animal not be available at or near the premises where the animal is located, upon taking an animal under the provisions of this section the agent shall leave in an appropriate place written notice to the animal's owner or custodian of such action. Societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals shall take all reasonable action to insure that owners or custodians of an animal, impounded under the provisions of this section, shall have received notice of such action as soon as possible and no later than 24 hours after the impoundment.

An animal impounded under the provisions of this section shall not remain in the custody of the appropriate Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals longer than 48 hours and shall be returned to its owner or custodian unless a complaint is filed within the 48 hour period in the appropriate court under the animal cruelty laws against the owner or custodian. When a complaint is filed in the appropriate court, the impounded animal shall remain in the custody of the appropriate Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals pending the outcome of the action. If the owner or custodian is found to be in violation of the animal cruelty laws the court shall make a final determination as to the disposition of the animal. Should the complaint be withdrawn, prior to a court hearing, the animal shall be immediately made available to its owner or custodian.

An owner or custodian of an animal impounded under the provision of this section who is found guilty of cruelty to the animal and the court orders the animal returned to such owner or custodian, shall prior to taking the animal, reimburse the appropriate Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Its regular standard fees charged for the care of animals while in the Society's custody plus any veterinary fees Incurred for the animal during the period of impoundment. Failure of the animal's owner or custodian to pay such fees within five (5) days after a finding of guilty, will result in ownership of the animal reverting to the appropriate S.P.C.A.. The S.P.C.A. may then dispose of the animal in accord with its procedures for such disposition.

Should an animal which has been impounded under the provisions of this section expire while in the custody of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the animal shall, as soon as possible, be turned over to the State Veterinarian at the Department of Agriculture. The State Veterinarian shall take whatever action necessary, including autopsy if required, to deterimc cause of the animal's death and shall record such cause. The cause of death shall, if requested, be funished to the animal's owner and to the court handling the complaint relative to the animal. Disposition of the animal's remains shall be coordinated with the animal's owner and, provided a complaint has been flied, with the court handling the complaint.

Approved July 7, 1981.