By Cecilia Chan
Pet owners in Glendale who have their animals taken away for cruelty or neglect will now have to post a $500 bond if they want to appeal the seizure.
Glendale City Council last week approved the ordinance, which expedites an appeal process and saves the city money. Previously the bond was $25 per pet.
“This cleans up what the state law does not address,” Police Chief Rick St. John said. “This does not reduce the right for appeals. This streamlines the process.”
The chief cited a case where a woman who appealed the seizure of her 50 dogs last year, took eight months to resolve. The department got a $100,000-plus bill for the care of the animals during the appeal process.
Glendale contracts with Arizona Humane Society, which provides care at $50 a day per animal.
The city ordinance shifts the cost of care for animals involved to the owners and shortens the civil appeal process.
The $500 bond per animal would cover the first 10 days of care.
“The $500 bond is paid for by the pet owner so it does not put a burden on the taxpayers of the city of Glendale,” Mr. St. John said. “These are extreme cases, not moderate. They should bear the burden o the cost of going through the hearing.”
If a judge returns a pet to an owner and the process takes longer than 10 days, the owner would be responsible for the additional cost, according to the chief. Generally, the pet owner has to pay the Humane Society the remaining balance to get back the animal, he said.
But, if a judge rules against the pet owner and the owner asks for an appeal, the city is responsible for the additional costs if the appeal process goes longer than 10 days, he added.
Mayor Jerry Weiers said some people may ask what would prevent people who pick up the animals from profiting on the increased bond.
The chief responded before a seizure is made, a police offi cer confers with the Arizona Humane Society and the group contracted by the city for animal services. The officer also makes the decision with supervisors, he said.
“The protection is the city of Glendale and our department make the decision, not people who have the potential of benefiting from that,” he said.
The chief also noted that animals are seized only in extreme cases.Councilwoman Joyce Clark asked if people whose animals are seized generally make an effort to reclaim their pets.
The chief said it was fairly uncommon. He added the department averages 35 seizures a year with about two to three of them requesting a hearing to get their animals back.
Councilwoman Lauren Tolmachoff asked what happens if a pet owner does not have the money for the bond.
If there is no posting of a bond, there is no hearing, the chief said.
Councilman Bart Turner said he has stressed over the $500, but has made peace with it. He said when the bond was $25, a small number of people even sought a hearing.
“Not many come forward to post a bond to get their animals back,” Mr. Turner said.
He said the $500 may be a barrier for those who seek justice but he realizes the taxpayer also needs justice and to be protected against this. He noted pet owners have a 13-day window to raise money for the bond, under the process.
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Animal Cruelty and Neglect Ordinance
• Makes animal cruelty and animal neglect a Class 1 misdemeanor under city code
• Requires the posting of a $500 bond, per animal, on filing for a post-seizure hearing
• Provides for expedited trial court proceedings
• Provides for expedited appeal by special action, thereby expediting final resolution of cases
Source: City of Glendale.