Michigan needs state-wide legislation that will provide an effective bond-or-forfeit process to protect animals seized in animal cruelty and neglect cases. An effective bond-or-forfeit statute prevents animal victims of cruelty and neglect from being victimized again by a criminal justice system that would require them to be held as living evidence while their abuser is prosecuted, which can take months or years.

Michigan Humane drafted bills amending Michigan’s anti-neglect and anti-cruelty statutes to include an effective bond-or-forfeit provision. If animals are seized in connection with an animal cruelty or neglect case, the bond-or-forfeit provision requires the defendant, if he or she is also the animals’ owner, to either surrender the animals to the seizing agency or pay for the animals’ costs of care by posting a bond while the criminal case is ongoing. The bond-or-forfeit provision also protects the defendant/owner’s due process rights by requiring notice of the seizure and providing an opportunity for a hearing.

By ensuring that the seizing agency either gets ownership of the animals and can make appropriate disposition decisions for them or receives funds to pay for the animals’ care, the agency is protected. A cruelty or neglect case can result in an overwhelming number of animals in care or even just one animal requiring extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation, which can be a huge drain on resources and a disincentive to investigate cruelty and neglect cases.

Michigan Humane drafted HB 4703 and HB 4704 to replicate the bond-or-forfeit provision we drafted for the animal fighting statute, which was passed in the 2017-2018 legislative session with wide bipartisan support. The bond-or-forfeit provision in the animal fighting statute is working well according to our Cruelty Investigation Department.

On Wednesday, November 10, HB 4703 and HB 4704 passed out of the House with a 91-14 vote. The bills were transmitted to the Senate and have been assigned to the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on November 30. Michigan Humane is grateful to former Representative Douglas Wozniak for introducing the bills. We also congratulate him on his recent election to the Senate, where he will continue to support this critical legislation.

We are going to keep working to improve animal welfare and serving as a voice for the animals through advocacy.  Together, we can continue to make a difference in animals’ lives. Join our Legislative Action Network to stay updated on our animal advocacy efforts.

Photo credit: Michigan Humane

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