HOUSE BILL NO. 383
AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 77, TITLE 3 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO STRAY LIVESTOCK.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Title 3, Chapter 77, by striking said chapter in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:
§7701. Permitting Livestock to Run at Large; Penalty.
Any person permitting livestock to run at large on the public highways or unenclosed lands within this State shall be tried before a Justice of the Peace or the Court of Common Pleas for the county in which the offense occurred and, if found guilty, shall receive a fine, which may not be suspended, of not less than $25 nor more than $200 for each offense.
§7702. Taking Up and Impounding Stray Livestock.
Any person or resident owning land in this State may take up any livestock found running at large upon the public highways or on lands owned by that person and impound the same. Such person may demand and receive a reasonable sum for the care and feeding of the animal or animals while in his care. The care and shelter provided shall be humane and shall be adequate for the size and class of livestock impounded. The State Veterinarian, a County Extension Agent of the county in which the livestock is impounded and a livestock owner of the same county will be responsible for determining if the animal or animals are being housed and fed properly as well as determining a fair and reasonable cost per day.
The person taking up and impounding the livestock shall forthwith give written notice of the taking up and impounding to the owner thereof, if known, or by leaving the notice with an adult person at his or their usual place of abode; or, if unknown, shall place a notice of three days duration in two (2) local newspapers adequately describing the livestock and giving an accurate name, address and telephone number of the person holding the animal or animals.
Any person taking up and impounding stock under this chapter, who refuses or neglects to give notice, as provided in this section, shall be liable to the owner of such stock in civil damages, to be recovered in a civil action before a Justice of the Peace or the Court of Common Pleas of the county in which the stock was taken up.
§7703. Damage by Stray Livestock.
Upon the application of any person, or his agent, sustaining any damage by reason of the livestock running at large contrary to this chapter, any Justice of the Peace or the Court of Common Pleas of the county in which damage was incurred by livestock, which may or may not have been taken up and impounded, shall designate the State Veterinarian, a County Extension Agent and a livestock owner of the county in which the damage was incurred, who shall estimate said damages and make a report to the Justice or Court, in writing, under their hands or the hands of the majority of them, the amount of damage estimated. The Justice or Court shall immediately give notice thereof to the parties interested. The damages so ascertained, together with the legal charges for impounding and keeping the livestock, shall be paid by the person claiming the stock before the same shall be delivered.
§7704. Sale of Strays.
(a) In case the livestock is not claimed and all legal charges satisfied in accordance with this chapter, within ten days, the person having the livestock in charge shall advertise the livestock to be sold at public sale, by placing a notice giving the particulars of the sale in two (2) local newspapers for a duration of three days and by giving a copy of the notice to the owner of the livestock, if known, or by leaving the same with an adult person at his usual place of abode.
(b) At the time fixed in the advertisement, the person having the livestock in charge shall proceed to sell the livestock, but may postpone the sale for good and sufficient cause. The proceeds of the sale, after deducting all legal charges, shall be deposited with the Clerk of the Peace of the county in which the proceedings took place. The clerk shall hold the proceeds for six months, unless sooner claimed by some person proving himself to be the real owner of the livestock. If not so claimed, the proceeds shall be turned over to the S.P.C.A. of the county in which the proceedings took place.
This chapter shall not apply to cattle or other stock in charge of a drover using due diligence in the control thereof, or to cattle or their stock which accidentally escapes from the enclosures. Proof of these circumstances shall always be admitted so that no injustice to the owners be inflicted in consequence thereof.
§7706. Accidental Escape of Livestock; Liability of Owners.
No owner, or other person in charge of cattle or other livestock, shall be responsible in any action by reason of cattle or other livestock accidentally escaping from their enclosure and straying on any public highway of this State unless the owner or other person In charge thereof has intentionally allowed the livestock to escape or unless he is guilty of negligence in the care of the cattle or other livestock.
§7707. Enforcement; Division of Fines
The Delaware State Police, local police officers of the community in which the offense took place and agents of the Delaware S.P.C.A. shall enforce this chapter prohibiting livestock running at large. All fines imposed for violations of the stray livestock laws shall be paid to the State Treasurer for deposit into the State General Fund."
Approved April 10, 1990.