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Virginia

West's Annotated Code of Virginia. Title 3.2. Agriculture, Animal Care, and Food. Subtitle V. Domestic Animals. Chapter 65. Comprehensive Animal Care. Article 7. Animal Control Officers and Humane Investigators. Article 8. Search, Seizure, Impounding, and Enforcement

Statute Details
Printable Version
Citation: Va. Code Ann. 3.2-6555 - 3.2-6569

Citation: VA ST 3.2-6555 - 3.2-6569


Last Checked by Web Center Staff: 11/2013

Summary:   These chapters relate to the qualifications and duties of animal control officers and the procedures for impounding stray animals.


Statute in Full:

 

Article 7. Animal Control Officers and Humane Investigators.

§ 3.2-6555. Position of animal control officer created

§ 3.2-6556. Training of animal control officers

§ 3.2-6557. Animal control officers and humane investigators; limitations; records; penalties

§ 3.2-6558. Humane investigators; qualifications; appointment; term

§ 3.2-6559. Powers and duties of humane investigators

§ 3.2-6560. Expenses of humane investigators

§ 3.2-6561. Revocation of appointment of humane investigators

§ 3.2-6562. Capturing, confining, and euthanizing companion animals by animal control officers; approval of drugs used

§ 3.2-6562.1. Rabies exposure; local authority and responsibility plan

§ 3.2-6563. When animals to be euthanized; procedure

Article 8. Search, Seizure, Impounding, and Enforcement

§ 3.2-6564. Complaint of suspected violation; investigation

§ 3.2-6565. Impoundment; expenses; lien; disposition of animal

§ 3.2-6566. Preventing cruelty to animals; interference; penalty

§ 3.2-6567. Enforcement authority

§ 3.2-6568. Power of search for violations of statutes against cruelty to animals

§ 3.2-6569. Seizure and impoundment of animals; notice and hearing; disposition of animal; disposition of proceeds upon sale

 

 

 

Article 7. Animal Control Officers and Humane Investigators.

§ 3.2-6555. Position of animal control officer created

The governing body of each county or city shall, or each town may, employ an officer to be known as the animal control officer who shall have the power to enforce this chapter, all ordinances enacted pursuant to this chapter and all laws for the protection of domestic animals. The governing body may also employ one or more deputy animal control officers to assist the animal control officer in the performance of his duties. Animal control officers and deputy animal control officers shall have knowledge of the animal control and protection laws of the Commonwealth that they are required to enforce. When in uniform or upon displaying a badge or other credentials of office, animal control officers and deputy animal control officers shall have the power to issue a summons or obtain a felony warrant as necessary, providing the execution of such warrant shall be carried out by any law-enforcement officer as defined in § 9.1-101, to any person found in the act of violating any such law or any ordinance enacted pursuant to such law of the locality where the animal control officer or deputy animal control officer is employed. Commercial dog breeding locations shall be subject to inspection by animal control at least twice annually and additionally upon receipt of a complaint or their own motion to ensure compliance with state animal care laws and regulations. The animal control officer and the deputy animal control officers shall be paid as the governing body of each locality shall prescribe.

Any locality where an animal control officer or deputy animal control officers have been employed may contract with one or more additional localities for enforcement of animal protection and control laws by the animal control officers or deputy animal control officers. Any such contract may provide that the locality employing the animal control officer or deputy animal control officers shall be reimbursed a portion of the salary and expenses of the animal control officer or deputy animal control officers.

Every locality employing an animal control officer shall submit to the State Veterinarian, on a form provided by him, information concerning the employment and training status of the animal control officers employed by the locality. The State Veterinarian may require that the locality notify him of any change in such information.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008; Acts 2008, c. 852, eff. Jan. 1, 2009.


§ 3.2-6556. Training of animal control officers

A. Every locality employing animal control officers shall require that every animal control officer and deputy animal control officer completes the following training:

1. Within two years from the date of hire, a basic animal control course that has been approved by the State Veterinarian. The basic animal control course shall include training in recognizing suspected child abuse and neglect and information on how complaints may be filed and shall be approved and implemented; and

2. Every three years, additional training approved by the State Veterinarian, 15 hours of which shall be training in animal control and protection.

The State Veterinarian shall develop criteria to be used in approving training courses and shall provide an opportunity for public comment on proposed criteria before the final criteria are adopted.

Subdivision 1 shall not apply to animal control officers or deputy animal control officers hired before July 1, 1998. The State Veterinarian may grant exemptions from the requirements of subdivision 1 to animal control officers hired on or after July 1, 1998, based on the animal control officer's previous training.

The State Veterinarian shall work to ensure the availability of these training courses through regional criminal justice training academies or other entities as approved by him. Based on information provided by authorized training entities, the State Veterinarian shall maintain the training records for all animal control officers for the purpose of documenting and ensuring that they are in compliance with this subsection.

B. Upon cause shown by a locality, the State Veterinarian may grant additional time during which the training required by subsection A may be completed by an animal control officer for the locality.

C. Any animal control officer that fails to complete the training required by subsection A shall be removed from office, unless the State Veterinarian has granted additional time as provided in subsection B.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.

 

§ 3.2-6557. Animal control officers and humane investigators; limitations; records; penalties

A. No animal control officer, humane investigator, humane society or custodian of any pound or animal shelter shall: (i) obtain the release or transfer of an animal by the animal's owner to such animal control officer, humane investigator, humane society or custodian for personal gain; or (ii) give or sell or negotiate for the gift or sale to any individual, pet shop, dealer, or research facility of any animal that may come into his custody in the course of carrying out his official assignments. No animal control officer, humane investigator or custodian of any pound or animal shelter shall be granted a dealer's license. Violation of this subsection is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Nothing in this section shall preclude any animal control officer or humane investigator from lawfully impounding any animal pursuant to § 3.2-6569.

B. An animal control officer, law-enforcement officer, humane investigator or custodian of any pound or animal shelter, upon taking custody of any animal in the course of his official duties, or any representative of a humane society, upon obtaining custody of any animal on behalf of the society, shall immediately make a record of the matter. Such record shall include:

1. The date on which the animal was taken into custody;

2. The date of the making of the record;

3. A description of the animal including the animal's species, color, breed, sex, approximate age and approximate weight;

4. The reason for taking custody of the animal and the location where custody was taken;

5. The name and address of the animal's owner, if known;

6. Any license or rabies tag, tattoo, collar or other identification number carried by or appearing on the animal; and

7. The disposition of the animal.

Records required by this subsection shall be maintained for at least five years, and shall be available for public inspection upon request. A summary of such records shall be submitted annually to the State Veterinarian in a format prescribed by him.

C. Any animal control officer or custodian of any pound who violates any provision of this chapter that relates to the seizure, impoundment and custody of animals by an animal control officer may be subject to suspension or dismissal from his position.

D. Custodians and animal control officers engaged in the operation of a pound shall be required to have knowledge of the laws of the Commonwealth governing animals, including this chapter, as well as basic animal care.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.

 

§ 3.2-6558. Humane investigators; qualifications; appointment; term

A. A circuit court may reappoint any person as a humane investigator for any locality within its jurisdiction if the person:

1. Was appointed as a humane investigator prior to July 1, 2003; and

2. Has never been convicted of animal cruelty or neglect, any felony, or any crime of moral turpitude according to a criminal background check, which shall be performed by the attorney for the Commonwealth at the expense of the person seeking the appointment.

B. A circuit court may appoint a person to fill a vacancy in that jurisdiction created when a humane investigator who was appointed prior to July 1, 2003, is no longer willing or eligible to be a humane investigator, provided the person seeking appointment:

1. Has received a written recommendation from the administrative entity that oversees animal control in the locality where the humane investigator seeks appointment;

2. Has never been convicted of animal cruelty or neglect, any felony, or any crime of moral turpitude according to a criminal background check, which shall be performed by the attorney for the Commonwealth at the expense of the person seeking the appointment; and

3. Has completed a basic animal control course approved by the State Veterinarian pursuant to § 3.2-6556.

C. A person residing outside the Commonwealth may be appointed as a humane investigator only if he is employed by a humane society located within the locality where he is seeking appointment.

D. Reappointments of humane investigators shall be for terms of three years. Each humane investigator shall, during each term for which he is appointed, complete 15 hours of training in animal care and protection approved for animal control officers. If a humane investigator is appointed to a succeeding term before or within 30 days after his current term expires, a criminal background check shall not be required. If a humane investigator's term expires and he is not appointed to a succeeding term before or within 30 days after his current term expires, the humane investigator shall not be appointed to another term.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.

 

§ 3.2-6559. Powers and duties of humane investigators

A. Any humane investigator may, within the locality where he has been appointed, investigate violations of laws and ordinances regarding care and treatment of animals and disposal of dead animals.

B. Each humane investigator shall carry during the performance of his powers and duties under this chapter an identification card issued by the locality where the humane investigator is appointed. The identification card shall include the following information regarding the humane investigator:

1. His full name;

2. The locality where he has been appointed;

3. The name of the circuit court that appointed him;

4. The signature of the circuit court judge that appointed him;

5. A photograph of his face; and

6. The date of expiration of his appointment.

C. Each humane investigator shall record on a form approved by the administrative entity that oversees animal control every investigation he performs, maintain such record for five years, and make such record available upon request to any law-enforcement officer, animal control officer or State Veterinarian's representative. Each humane investigator shall file quarterly a report summarizing such records with the administrative agency that oversees animal control on an approved form. A humane investigator's appointment may be revoked as provided in § 3.2-6561 if he fails to file such report.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.

 

§ 3.2-6560. Expenses of humane investigators

Neither the appointment of any humane investigator, nor the performance of any service or duty by him, shall require any locality or the Commonwealth to pay any cost or expense incurred by or on behalf of a humane investigator. Any locality may reimburse any humane investigator appointed for that locality for reasonable expenses incurred as the result of a specific request for services from the locality.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.


§ 3.2-6561. Revocation of appointment of humane investigators

A. Upon a motion by the attorney for the Commonwealth, the circuit court that appointed a humane investigator may revoke his appointment if he is no longer able to perform the duties of a humane investigator; has been convicted of any felony, Class 1 misdemeanor, or a violation of any provision of this chapter or any other law regarding animals; or for good cause shown. The court shall notify the administrative entity that oversees animal control in the locality where the humane investigator was appointed of such revocation.

B. Any law-enforcement officer may investigate any allegation that a humane investigator has violated this chapter and report his findings and recommendations to the attorney for the Commonwealth.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.

 

§ 3.2-6562. Capturing, confining, and euthanizing companion animals by animal control officers; approval of drugs used

It shall be the duty of the animal control officer or any other officer to capture and confine any companion animal of unknown ownership found running at large on which the license fee has not been paid. Following the expiration of the holding period prescribed in § 3.2-6546, the animal control officer or other officer may deliver such companion animal to any person in his jurisdiction who will pay the required license fee on such companion animal. Prior to disposition by euthanasia or otherwise, all the provisions of § 3.2-6546 shall have been complied with. For all companion animals not otherwise disposed of as provided for in this chapter, it shall be the duty of the animal control officer or any other officer to euthanize such companion animals. Any person, animal control officer, or other officer euthanizing a companion animal under this chapter shall cremate, bury, or sanitarily dispose of the same.

All drugs and drug administering equipment used by animal control officers or other officers to capture companion animals pursuant to this chapter shall have been approved by the State Veterinarian.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.

 

§ 3.2-6562.1. Rabies exposure; local authority and responsibility plan

The local health director, in conjunction with the governing body of the locality, shall adopt a plan to control and respond to the risk of rabies exposure to persons and companion animals. Such plan shall set forth a procedure that promptly ensures the capture, confinement, isolation, or euthanasia of any animal that has exposed, or poses a risk of exposing, a person or companion animal to rabies. The plan shall identify the authority and responsibility of the local health department, law-enforcement officers, animal control officers, and any other persons with a duty to control or respond to a risk of rabies exposure. The plan shall provide for law-enforcement officers, animal control officers, and other persons to report to and be directed by the local health director for such purposes.


CREDIT(S)

Added by Acts 2010, c. 834.


 


§ 3.2-6563. When animals to be euthanized; procedure

Any humane investigator may lawfully cause to be euthanized any animal in his charge or found abandoned or not properly cared for when, in the judgment of the humane investigator and two reputable citizens called to view the same in his presence, and who shall give their written certificate, the animal appears to be injured, disabled or diseased, past recovery, or the injury, disease or disability is such that a reasonable owner would cause the animal to be euthanized.

Any humane investigator shall make every reasonable effort immediately to notify the owner of the animal that the humane investigator intends for the animal to be euthanized. The owner shall have a right to select one of the two reputable citizens called to view the animal and give written certificate of the animal's condition. In no event shall the determination as to disposition of the animal be delayed beyond 48 hours after such humane investigator first decides the animal should be euthanized. In the event that the two citizens called to give such certificate are unable to agree, they shall select a third reputable citizen and his decision shall be final.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.

 

Article 8. Search, Seizure, Impounding, and Enforcement

§ 3.2-6564. Complaint of suspected violation; investigation

A. Upon receiving a complaint of a suspected violation of this chapter, any ordinance enacted pursuant to this chapter or any law for the protection of domestic animals, any animal control officer, law-enforcement officer, or State Veterinarian's representative may, for the purpose of investigating the allegations of the complaint, enter upon, during business hours, any business premises, including any place where animals or animal records are housed or kept, of any dealer, pet shop, groomer, or boarding establishment. Upon receiving a complaint of a suspected violation of any law or ordinance regarding care or treatment of animals or disposal of dead animals, any humane investigator may, for the purpose of investigating the allegations of the complaint, enter upon, during business hours, any business premises, including any place where animals or animal records are housed or kept, of any dealer, pet shop, groomer, or boarding establishment.

Upon obtaining a warrant as provided for in § 3.2-6568, the law-enforcement officer, animal control officer, State Veterinarian's representative, or humane investigator may enter upon any other premises where the animal or animals described in the complaint are housed or kept. Attorneys for the Commonwealth and law-enforcement officials shall provide such assistance as may be required in the conduct of such investigations.

B. If the investigation discloses that a violation of § 3.2-6503 has occurred, the investigating official shall notify the owner or custodian of the complaint and of what action is necessary to comply with this chapter.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.

 

§ 3.2-6565. Impoundment; expenses; lien; disposition of animal

When an animal control officer, humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or State Veterinarian's representative finds that an apparent violation of this chapter has rendered an animal in such a condition as to constitute a direct and immediate threat to its life, safety or health that the owner or custodian has failed to remedy, such animal control officer, humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or State Veterinarian's representative may impound the animal pursuant to § 3.2-6569 in a facility that will provide the elements of good care as set forth in § 3.2-6503 and shall then proceed to take such steps as are required to dispose of the animal pursuant to § 3.2-6569.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.


§ 3.2-6566. Preventing cruelty to animals; interference; penalty

Each animal control officer, humane investigator or State Veterinarian's representative shall interfere to prevent the perpetration of any act of cruelty upon any animal in his presence. Any person who shall interfere with or obstruct or resist any humane investigator or State Veterinarian's representative in the discharge of his rights, powers, and duties as authorized and prescribed by law is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008. Amended by Acts 2010, c. 240.

.


§ 3.2-6567. Enforcement authority

All law-enforcement officers in the Commonwealth and State Veterinarian's representatives shall enforce the provisions of this chapter to the same extent other laws in the Commonwealth are enforced.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008.


§ 3.2-6568. Power of search for violations of statutes against cruelty to animals

When a sworn complaint is made to any proper authority by any animal control officer, humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or State Veterinarian's representative that the complainant believes and has reasonable cause to believe that the laws in relation to cruelty to animals have been, are being, or are about to be violated in any particular building or place, such authority, if satisfied that there is reasonable cause for such belief, shall issue a warrant authorizing any sheriff, deputy sheriff or police officer, to search the building or place.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008; Acts 2008, c. 543; Acts 2008, c. 707.

 

§ 3.2-6569. Seizure and impoundment of animals; notice and hearing; disposition of animal; disposition of proceeds upon sale

A. Any humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or animal control officer may lawfully seize and impound any animal that has been abandoned, has been cruelly treated, or is suffering from an apparent violation of this chapter that has rendered the animal in such a condition as to constitute a direct and immediate threat to its life, safety or health. The seizure or impoundment of an equine resulting from a violation of clause (iii) of subsection A or clause (ii) of subsection B of § 3.2-6570 may be undertaken only by the State Veterinarian or State Veterinarian's representative who has received training in the examination and detection of sore horses as required by 9 C.F.R. Part 11.7.

B. Before seizing or impounding any agricultural animal, the humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or animal control officer shall contact the State Veterinarian or State Veterinarian's representative, who shall recommend to the person the most appropriate action for effecting the seizure and impoundment. The humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or animal control officer shall notify the owner of the agricultural animal and the local attorney for the Commonwealth of the recommendation. The humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or animal control officer may impound the agricultural animal on the land where the agricultural animal is located if:

1. The owner or tenant of the land where the agricultural animal is located gives written permission;

2. A general district court so orders; or

3. The owner or tenant of the land where the agricultural animal is located cannot be immediately located, and it is in the best interest of the agricultural animal to be impounded on the land where it is located until the written permission of the owner or tenant of the land can be obtained.

If there is a direct and immediate threat to an agricultural animal, the humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or animal control officer may seize the animal, in which case the humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or animal control officer shall file within five business days on a form approved by the State Veterinarian a report on the condition of the animal at the time of the seizure, the location of impoundment, and any other information required by the State Veterinarian.

C. Upon seizing or impounding an animal, the humane investigator, law-enforcement officer or animal control officer shall petition the general district court in the city or county where the animal is seized for a hearing. The hearing shall be not more than 10 business days from the date of the seizure of the animal. The hearing shall be to determine whether the animal has been abandoned, has been cruelly treated, or has not been provided adequate care.

D. The humane investigator, law-enforcement officer, or animal control officer shall cause to be served upon the person with a right of property in the animal or the custodian of the animal notice of the hearing. If such person or the custodian is known and residing within the jurisdiction wherein the animal is seized, written notice shall be given at least five days prior to the hearing of the time and place of the hearing. If such person or the custodian is known but residing out of the jurisdiction where such animal is seized, written notice by any method or service of process as is provided by the Code of Virginia shall be given. If such person or the custodian is not known, the humane investigator, law-enforcement officer, or animal control officer shall cause to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the jurisdiction wherein such animal is seized notice of the hearing at least one time prior to the hearing and shall further cause notice of the hearing to be posted at least five days prior to the hearing at the place provided for public notices at the city hall or courthouse wherein such hearing shall be held.

E. The procedure for appeal and trial shall be the same as provided by law for misdemeanors. Trial by jury shall be as provided in Article 4 (§ 19.2-260 et seq.) of Chapter 15 of Title 19.2. The Commonwealth shall be required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

F. The humane investigator, law-enforcement officer, or animal control officer shall provide for such animal until the court has concluded the hearing. Any locality may require the owner of any animal held pursuant to this subsection for more than thirty days to post a bond in surety with the locality for the amount of the cost of boarding the animal for a period of time set by ordinance, not to exceed nine months.

In any locality that has not adopted such an ordinance, a court may order the owner of an animal held pursuant to this subsection for more than 30 days to post a bond in surety with the locality for the amount of the cost of boarding the animal for a period of time not to exceed nine months. The bond shall not be forfeited if the owner is found to be not guilty of the violation.

If the court determines that the animal has been neither abandoned, cruelly treated, nor deprived of adequate care, the animal shall be returned to the owner. If the court determines that the animal has been (i) abandoned or cruelly treated, (ii) deprived of adequate care, as that term is defined in § 3.2-6500, or (iii) raised as a dog that has been, is, or is intended to be used in dogfighting in violation of § 3.2-6571, then the court shall order that the animal may be: (a) sold by a local governing body, if not a companion animal; (b) disposed of by a local governing body pursuant to subsection D of § 3.2-6546, whether such animal is a companion animal or an agricultural animal; or (c) delivered to the person with a right of property in the animal as provided in subsection G.

G. In no case shall the owner be allowed to purchase, adopt, or otherwise obtain the animal if the court determines that the animal has been abandoned, cruelly treated, or deprived of adequate care. The court shall direct that the animal be delivered to the person with a right of property in the animal, upon his request, if the court finds that the abandonment, cruel treatment, or deprivation of adequate care is not attributable to the actions or inactions of such person.

H. The court shall order the owner of any animal determined to have been abandoned, cruelly treated, or deprived of adequate care to pay all reasonable expenses incurred in caring and providing for such animal from the time the animal is seized until such time that the animal is disposed of in accordance with the provisions of this section, to the provider of such care.

I. The court may prohibit the possession or ownership of other companion animals by the owner of any companion animal found to have been abandoned, cruelly treated, or deprived of adequate care. In making a determination to prohibit the possession or ownership of companion animals, the court may take into consideration the owner's past record of convictions under this chapter or other laws prohibiting cruelty to animals or pertaining to the care or treatment of animals and the owner's mental and physical condition.

J. If the court finds that an agricultural animal has been abandoned or cruelly treated, the court may prohibit the possession or ownership of any other agricultural animal by the owner of the agricultural animal if the owner has exhibited a pattern of abandoning or cruelly treating agricultural animals as evidenced by previous convictions of violating § 3.2-6504 or 3.2-6570. In making a determination to prohibit the possession or ownership of agricultural animals, the court may take into consideration the owner's mental and physical condition.

K. Any person who is prohibited from owning or possessing animals pursuant to subsection I or J may petition the court to repeal the prohibition after two years have elapsed from the date of entry of the court's order. The court may, in its discretion, repeal the prohibition if the person can prove to the satisfaction of the court that the cause for the prohibition has ceased to exist.

L. When a sale occurs, the proceeds shall first be applied to the costs of the sale then next to the unreimbursed expenses for the care and provision of the animal, and the remaining proceeds, if any, shall be paid over to the owner of the animal. If the owner of the animal cannot be found, the proceeds remaining shall be paid into the Literary Fund.

M. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the humane destruction of a critically injured or ill animal for humane purposes by the impounding humane investigator, law-enforcement officer, animal control officer, or licensed veterinarian.

CREDIT(S)

Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008; Acts 2008, c. 510. Amended by Acts 2011, c. 754; Acts 2011, c. 886.


 



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