As a follow up to last week’s exercise concerning animals in the road, I thought I’d post some of the various statutes and rules that pertain in these situations, especially ones concerning seizures and destruction of private property. I’m trying to convey a “legal lay of the land” if you will.
So I’ll be highlighting laws of dominion and ownership, movement requirements, disease control, etc. Remember, most of these are excerpts, not the full statutory verbiage. I encourage you to do your research. And be forewarned – this is a long one.
The Constitution of the United States. Amendment V.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Livestock and Ownership Law
4. “Equine” means horses, mules, burros and asses.
5. “Livestock” means cattle, equine, sheep, goats and swine, except feral pigs.
7. “Poultry” means any domesticated bird, whether live or dead, and includes chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guineas, ratites and squabs.
8. “Range” means every character of lands, enclosed or unenclosed, outside of cities and towns, upon which livestock is permitted by custom, license or permit to roam and feed.
9. “Range livestock” means livestock customarily permitted to roam upon the ranges of the state, whether public domain or in private control, and not in the immediate actual possession or control of the owner although occasionally placed in enclosures for temporary purposes.
A. A person who desires to authorize another person to gather, drive or otherwise handle animals bearing the recorded brand or mark owned by the person granting the authority, or animals of which he is the lawful owner but which bear other brands or marks, shall furnish the other person an authority in writing which lists the brands or marks authorized to be handled, and authorizes the other person to gather, drive or otherwise handle the animals described.
Upon the sale or transfer of livestock, except dairy calves under thirty days of age, delivery of the animals shall be accompanied by a written and acknowledged bill of sale from the vendor to the purchaser.
A. Every person owning range livestock in this state shall adopt and record a brand with the division with which to brand such livestock. Branding shall be performed by a hot iron, freezing, acid or any other method that will result in a permanent mark. Any person owning range livestock may also record an earmark with which to mark such livestock as long as the earmark is not recorded for use by neighboring range livestock owners. Sheep shall be marked distinctly with a mark or device sufficient to distinguish them. Every owner of other animals may adopt a brand or earmark with which to brand or earmark such animals.
A. Owners of livestock, other than equines, who do not have a recorded brand and who maintain their animals in close confinement not exceeding ten acres may transport their animals to livestock auctions licensed in this state, feedlots licensed in this state or slaughter plants licensed in this state without first having those animals inspected if the shipment does not exceed five cattle or calves or ten sheep.
B. Animals shipped, conveyed or transported under this section shall be accompanied by proof of ownership, such as auction invoices or inspection certificates which the owner received at the time of purchase.
A. Except as otherwise provided in this section, livestock, other than equines and livestock inspected at feedlots or dairies pursuant to section 3-1337, shall not be slaughtered, sold, purchased, driven, transported, shipped or conveyed unless the animals have been inspected by a livestock officer or inspector for health, brands and marks before they are slaughtered, sold, purchased, driven, transported, shipped or conveyed and the inspection fee paid.
“Stray animal” as used in this article means livestock, bison or ratites whose owner is unknown or cannot be located, or any such animal whose owner is known but permits the animal to roam at large on the streets, alleys, roads, range or premises of another without permission, except that this section does not apply to livestock where the principles of a federal permit, federal allotment or federal lease are in dispute.
Seizure and Destruction
Livestock officers shall seize livestock, except unweaned animals running with their mothers, wherever found and when the livestock officer questions the livestock’s ownership. The question of ownership may be raised in the following circumstances:
1. The livestock is not branded as required by this chapter.
2. The ownership of the livestock is questioned by another person.
3. The livestock has brands so mutilated, indistinct, burned or otherwise disfigured as to be difficult of ascertainment.
4. The livestock bears a brand which is not recorded.
5. The livestock is freshly branded and not found with its mother.
6. The livestock has a brand or mark which is not the recorded brand or mark of the owner.
7. The livestock is that which is known as “leppys,” “orejanas,” “sleepers,” “dogies” or “mavericks.”
8. Other circumstances raising questions as to the livestock’s ownership.
B. The state veterinarian may enter any place where a suspected animal or poultry may be and take custody of the animal or poultry for the purpose of determining the presence of a contagious, infectious or communicable disease.
C. The director may direct the state veterinarian and agency employees to:
2. Destroy animals or poultry when necessary to prevent the spread of any infectious, contagious or communicable disease.
A. The state veterinarian and inspectors may enter any place where an animal may be and take custody of the animal to examine it for contagious disease, including tuberculosis. Custody may be retained for the purpose of applying the tuberculin test to the animal.
B. If the animal reacts to the test, the inspecting officer may immediately condemn the animal and order it destroyed.
D. On failure of the owner to be awarded immediate, expense-free possession of the equine pursuant to subsection C of this section, the department shall either sell the equine at public auction or, if the equine’s condition makes its sale impractical, dispose of the equine in the most humane manner possible.
B. The State Veterinarian may request that an imported animal failing to meet entry requirements be returned to the state of origin, consigned directly to slaughter, confined to a designated feedlot, or consigned to a feedlot in another state within two weeks of the request. Any extension to this time-frame shall be approved in writing by the State Veterinarian.
Severity of Infractions
A. A person who knowingly kills or sells livestock of another, the ownership of which is known or unknown, or who knowingly purchases livestock of another, the ownership of which is known or unknown, from a person not having the lawful right to sell or dispose of such animals, is guilty of a class 5 felony.
B. A person who knowingly attempts to take or does take all or any part of a carcass of any such animal, pursuant to subsection A, for such person’s own use, the use of others or for sale is guilty of a class 5 felony.
C. In addition to any other penalty imposed by this section, a person depriving the owner of the use of his animal or animals under subsection A or B of this section shall be liable to the owner for damages equal to three times the value of such animal or animals.
D. This section shall not apply to taking up animals under the estray laws.
A. A person commits cruelty to animals if the person does any of the following:
2. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly fails to provide medical attention necessary to prevent protracted suffering to any animal under the person’s custody or control.
H. For the purposes of this section:
2. “Cruel mistreatment” means to torture or otherwise inflict unnecessary serious physical injury on an animal or to kill an animal in a manner that causes protracted suffering to the animal.
3. “Cruel neglect” means to fail to provide an animal with necessary food, water or shelter.
A person operating a motor vehicle on a public highway and approaching a horse-drawn vehicle, a horse on which a person is riding or livestock being driven on the highway shall exercise reasonable precaution to prevent frightening and to safeguard the animals and to ensure the safety of persons riding or driving the animals. If the animals appear frightened, the person in control of the vehicle shall reduce its speed and if requested by signal or otherwise shall not proceed further toward the animals unless necessary to avoid accident or injury until the animals appear to be under control.
“Any person licensed or certified pursuant to this chapter who gratuitously and in good faith gives emergency treatment to a sick or injured animal at the scene of an emergency shall not be liable in damages to the owner of such animal in the absence of gross negligence.”
“Emergency workers engaging in emergency management activities… shall have the same degree of responsibility for their actions, and enjoy the same immunities and disability workers’ compensation benefits as officers, agents and employees of the state… Coverage is provided if the emergency worker is acting within the course and scope of assigned duties and is engaged in an authorized activity, except for actions of wilful misconduct, gross negligence or bad faith.”
“A licensed, certified or authorized emergency responder and its employees at the scene of an emergency, when the emergency response is provided in good faith, have the immunities provided in section 26-314 in carrying out the provisions of this article”.
All federal, state and local governmental agencies shall notify the department within two hours of any seizure of any livestock or property in or on which livestock is present or when a person responsible for the care of any livestock is taken into custody and the person from the federal, state or local governmental agency knows that the person taken into custody is responsible for the care of any livestock.
How many of you noticed there is no language addressing humane euthanasia in situations like our table top exercise addressed? That’s correct. Not even the state veterinarian is vested with that power. The argument I put forth essentially boils down to avoiding criminal cruelty charges. Because if you are the authority and take custody of an animal, then you do not prevent protracted suffering, you are most certainly looking at an animal cruelty violation.
Think on that one while you enjoy the ride.