Statute in Full:
HOUSE BILL 444 45th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2002
INTRODUCED BY Joseph M. Thompson
AN ACT RELATING TO ANIMALS; CREATING THE CRIME OF COMPANION ANIMAL HOARDING; PROVIDING PENALTIES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
Section 1. A new section of the Criminal Code is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] COMPANION ANIMAL HOARDING--PENALTIES.--
A. As used in Sections 1 through 5 of this act:
(1) "companion animal" means an animal that is commonly considered a pet or is considered by the owner to be a pet. "Companion animal" includes canines, felines and equines; and
(2) "pet" means a domesticated animal kept for companionship rather than utility.
B. Companion animal hoarding consists of a person:
(1) possessing over fifteen companion animals;
(2) failing to provide necessary nutrition to the companion animals;
(3) failing to shelter the companion animals in a sanitary environment;
(4) failing to provide necessary veterinary care to the companion animals; and
(5) displaying a disregard for the conditions under which the companion animals are living.
C. Whoever commits companion animal hoarding is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be sentenced pursuant to the provisions of Section 31-19-1 NMSA 1978.
D. Upon a conviction for companion animal hoarding, the court shall order an assessment of and any necessary psychological counseling or treatment for the convicted offender. The convicted offender shall bear the expense of participating in the psychological counseling ordered by the court.
E. Upon a conviction for companion animal hoarding, the court may order that the offender is precluded from owning, harboring or having custody or control of any animals or from conspiring with others to maintain or create a collection of animals on the offender's behalf for a period of time that the court deems reasonable.
F. The provisions of this section do not preclude the provisions set forth in Chapter 77 NMSA 1978 from applying."
Section 2. A new section of the Criminal Code is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] SEIZURE OF COMPANION ANIMALS--NOTICE.--
A. A peace officer or an animal control officer who reasonably believes that the life or health of companion animals are endangered due to companion animal hoarding may apply to the district court, magistrate court or the metropolitan court in the county where the companion animals are located for a warrant to seize the companion animals.
B. Except as provided in Subsection E of this section, if the court finds probable cause that companion animal hoarding is occurring, the court shall issue a warrant for the seizure of the companion animals. The court shall also schedule a hearing on the matter as expeditiously as possible within thirty days unless good cause is demonstrated by the state for a hearing at a later time.
C. Written notice regarding the time and location of the hearing shall be provided to the owner charged with companion animal hoarding. The court may order publication of a notice of the hearing in a newspaper closest to the location of the seizure.
D. If the owner of the companion animals cannot be determined, a written notice regarding the circumstances of the seizure shall be conspicuously posted where the animals are seized at the time the seizure occurs.
E. If a court finds probable cause that companion animal hoarding is occurring, the court may order the owner charged with companion animal hoarding to provide necessary food, water, shelter and care for the companion animals that are the basis of the charge until the charges against the owner are adjudicated. The court may also order a peace officer or an animal control officer to make regular visits to the home of the owner charged with companion animal hoarding to ascertain if the companion animals are receiving necessary food, water, shelter and care until the charges against the owner are adjudicated. At any time, a peace officer or an animal control officer may apply for a warrant to seize the companion animals pursuant to Subsection A of this section if the peace officer or animal control officer feels that the companion animals are not receiving the necessary court-ordered food, water, shelter and care."
Section 3. A new section of the Criminal Code is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] DISPOSITION OF SEIZED COMPANION ANIMALS.--
A. If the court finds that the owner is not committing companion animal hoarding, the court shall return the companion animals to their owner.
B. Upon conviction, the court shall place the companion animals for adoption with an animal shelter or animal welfare organization or provide for the humane euthanasia of the companion animals.
C. In no event shall the owner be permitted to adopt the seized companion animals following a conviction of companion animal hoarding.
D. An individual who is authorized by the court to care for companion animals, to treat companion animals or to attempt to restore companion animals to good health is immune from civil or criminal liability resulting from his actions."
Section 4. A new section of the Criminal Code is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] FORFEITURE.--Within fourteen days following the seizure of companion animals from an owner who is alleged to have committed companion animal hoarding, the state may file a petition for forfeiture prior to trial before the court having jurisdiction over the case. In the petition, the state may request that permanent forfeiture of the companion animals be granted if the owner of the companion animals is alleged to have committed companion animal hoarding and is also proven to have committed cruelty to animals or extreme cruelty to animals as provided in Section 30-18-1 NMSA 1978."
Section 5. A new section of the Criminal Code is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] COSTS.--
A. Upon seizure of the companion animals, the owner shall post a bond or other adequate financial assurance acceptable to the court to cover the cost of boarding the seized companion animals and all necessary veterinary examinations and care provided to the seized companion animals housed at an animal shelter or animal welfare organization during the pendency of the proceedings.
B. In the absence of a conviction, the bond or other adequate financial assurance acceptable to the court shall be returned to the owner and the seizing agency shall bear the costs of boarding the companion animals and all necessary veterinary examinations and care of the companion animals during the pendency of the proceedings.
C. Nothing in this section shall preclude an owner charged with companion animal hoarding from voluntary, permanent relinquishment of any companion animals to animal control or an animal shelter in lieu of posting a bond or other adequate financial assurance. Voluntary relinquishment has no effect on any proceedings filed against a person charged with companion animal hoarding."
Section 6. EFFECTIVE DATE.--The effective date of the provisions of this act is July 1, 2002.