The House Committee on Judiciary today approved state Rep. Doug Wozniak’s plan to require owners to pay for sheltering their abused or neglected animals during court proceedings.
Under current law, when an abused or neglected animal is taken in by law enforcement, a prosecutor can seek a court order that an alleged abuser forfeit an animal, but the forfeiture process generally cannot begin unless the owner is charged. If the owner of a seized animal has not been identified, a shelter must provide care indefinitely. To avoid prosecution, an unknown abuser might not claim the animal, leaving the shelter to pay for care — sometimes for years.
Wozniak’s House Bills 4703 and 4704 would require an owner accused of animal abuse or neglect to pay a bond or security deposit to cover shelter expenses. An owner who does not pay would forfeit the animal automatically so the animal may be placed for adoption. The plan preserves due process by allowing an owner to request a hearing to review the required bond. In a hearing, the judge could consider the defendant’s ability to pay. Finally, when deciding whether to seize a mistreated service animal, law enforcement would be required to consider the totality of the circumstances.
“Mistreatment of animals is completely unacceptable, and prosecuting abusers will help prevent future crimes,” said Wozniak of Shelby Township. “Under my plan, owners must pay up front for their seized animals’ care or give them up permanently. That way, shelters can either receive full reimbursement while caring for mistreated animals or find them long-term homes. In the process, the incentive for owners to claim their animals will increase prosecution of criminals hoping to avoid accountability.”
HBs 4703 and 4704 were approved with bipartisan support and now advance for consideration by the entire House of Representatives.
“These bills would add $72 million dollars in new fees to the bills of public water customers, each year,” said Wozniak, R-Shelby Township. “The state already has too many poorly managed and underperforming programs. Macomb County residents are not clamoring for an expensive new program from which they would receive no benefit.”
“People want assurances government officials are using proceeds from the sale of property seized by the government exactly according to law,” said Wozniak, R-Shelby Township. “Corruption or even the appearance of corruption is a stain on our society. Our plan brings greater clarity to the civil asset forfeiture law by refining the process and limitations for its use.”
“Probate Court looks out for people in times of crisis, where time is of the essence,” said Wozniak, R-Shelby Township. “These caseloads don’t usually involve people who can wait weeks or sometimes even days for a hearing. We’re talking about orphaned children with nowhere to go, mentally ill and developmentally disabled loved ones, and folks looking for the authority to make medical decisions for incapacitated family members, and myriad of other circumstances where timely, thoughtful decisions need to be made. Macomb County needs this additional judicial position to help ensure our vulnerable family, friends and neighbors are properly served.”
“This is a devastating step in the wrong direction for families struggling to make ends meet,” said Wozniak, R-Shelby Township. “There is no question this decision is a direct result of Lansing Democrats and their radical new green energy plan. They made false promises that their new policies, which have been abandoned by many left-leaning states and countries, would improve reliability and affordability. Instead, utility companies are already pushing renewable energy expenses onto the consumer before the extreme policies are even implemented.”