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What to do when Animal Control Comes Knocking

Discussion in 'Laws & Legislation' started by Tiara, Mar 6, 2007.

  1. Tiara

    Tiara Big Dog


    by George J. Eigenhauser Jr.

    (he is an attorney at law licensed in the State of California since 1979

    and practices in the areas of civil litigation and estate planning)

    ANTI-DOG ENFORCEMENT - What Every Dog Owner Needs to Know

    Dog owners and ethical breeders are increasingly being targeted. Disgruntled neighbors may retaliate against dog owners and may other reasons drive complaints, and anti-dog enforcement action, which many times may be conducted illegally.

    The following text outlines methods of inquiry and enforcement which may be used by local officials in attempts to enforce ordinances in your community and suggested techniques of response. These techniques are entirely legal and based upon the rights of citizens as stated by the U.S. Constitution.

    No breeder wants to have Animal Control come knocking on the door...but if they do, it will help if you know what your options are.

    Remember, Animal Control is law enforcement. They are bound by the same Constitution as any other government agency. To protect yourself, you need to know your rights. These vary slightly one jurisdiction to another, but some general principles apply. One rule applies everywhere: never physically resist an officer.

    When Animal Control is At Your Door:

    1. Do not let them in, no matter how much they ask. Animal Control generally cannot enter your home without a warrant, or your permission. While regular police can enter in emergency situations when human life is at risk (i.e. they hear gunshots and a scream inside), there are few, if any, situations in which Animal Control can enter your home without a warrant. Simply tell them they may not come in.

    2. If you let them in, anything they find in "plain sight" can be used against you. In some circumstances Animal Control officers, unable to find a legitimate reason to make an arrest, have reported building or zoning violations. This may include caging you attached to a wall without a building permit, that extra outlet in the puppy room, having more pets than allowed by zoning, even extension cords in violation of fire codes! No matter how clean your kennel, if they want to find a violation, they will.

    3. Do not talk to them from an open doorway. Step outside an close (and lock if possible) the door behind you. This is necessary because:

    A) Anything they see through the open door is "plain sight" and may be the basis for an arrest, or probable cause for a search warrant.

    B) If they make an arrest or even feel threatened they are usually permitted to search for weapons in your immediate area. Do you keep a baseball bat inside the door for your protection? Even if you don't, once they step inside to look, they are in your home and may continue to search.

    C) It is hard not to be intimidated by someone in authority. Some animal control is even done by local police, who carry guns. It is easy for them to get "in your face", causing you to back up into the home. Once you go in, it will be interpreted as an invitation to follow.

    4. If they claim to have a warrant, demand to see it. In general, a search warrant must be signed by a judge. A warrant to search your home for dogs does not include an inventory of your jewelry box. A warrant to search your kennel in the garage or in the barn does not include a search of your home.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2007
  2. Michele

    Michele Guest

    HA! That's what you think..LOL.....if they ever came to my house, they'd be looking at the bottom of a frying pan right before it bounced off their heads...
  3. Tiara

    Tiara Big Dog

    5. In some locations dog owners may have obtained special "breeder permits" that stipulate that Animal Control has your permission to enter at any time. If you have signed such a permit they still cannot enter against your wishes, since you can revoke the permission at any time. However, if you refuse permission it may allow them to cancel your breeder permit, so you have to weigh the consequences.

    6. Warning - anyone in lawful possession of the premises may be able to give permission for a search. Make sure your roommate, babysitter, dog-sitter, housekeeper and other know that they should not let animal control into your home or on your property (i.e. backyard, garage, etc.).

    How to Handle Questions:
    1. Don’t answer any questions beyond identifying yourself for the officer. Anything you say to the officer in your defense cannot be used in court (hearsay). Anything you say that is harmful to you will be used in court (confessions are not considered hearsay). You cannot win, except by remaining silent.

    2. Be polite but firm. Do not argue, bad-mouth, curse, threaten or try to intimidate the officer.

    3. Do not lie to an officer, ever. However, it is NOT a lie to exercise your right to remain silent.

    4. Keep your hands in plain sight. People have been shot by police when common objects, such as a wallet, were mistaken for a gun.

    5. Do not touch the officer in any way. Do not physically resist an officer, no matter how unlawful his or her actions.

    6. Don't try to tell your side of the story, it cannot help.

    7. Do not threaten the officer that you plan to file a complaint for their actions.

    8. If the questioning persists, demand to speak to a lawyer first. Repeat as necessary.

    Gathering the Facts:

    1. Get the name and badge number of each officer involved. If he/she does not volunteer this information, ask.

    2. Ask the name of the agency they represent. Different agencies have different enforcement responsibilities.

    3. Ask why they are there. Request the factual basis of the complaint and the identity of the complainant.

    4. If they have other people with them (Humane Society, press, etc.) get the names and organizations for all present.

    5. Note the names (and addresses) of any witnesses to the encounter.

    6. If you are physically injured by an officer, you should take photographs of the injuries immediately, but do not forego proper medical treatment first.

    7. Write down all of the information, as well as the date and time of the incident immediately, while details are fresh in your mind.

    8. If you rights are violated, file a complaint with the appropriate body.

  4. diva

    diva CH Dog

    Exactly!!! "Do you have a warrant?" Would be the first question I asked them if they wanted to take a look around my place.
  5. We had a officer cometo our frieneds house while we were having a BBQ, he wasnt AC, he was a cop that had been called because a nieghbor had complained we had vicious dog who she thought may be fighting in our backyard.

    The "fighting" was between our Rory and the friends Akita who were playing safely at the BBQ with 10 adults as supervisin and at least 5 kids who were playing with the dogs. The dogs play together at least every two weeks and have a good time, we would never have allowed the kids around if any of us felt they were a danger. Both dogs are fixed, the Akita is a 7 year old boy who was very well behaved. So anyhoo the officer walks up to see our cozy lil scene yet still questioned us, it was such bullshit. When he was walking away I said "officer, you didnt even ask if ther dogs were licensed but put down on your notes that they are both registered with the city" He didnt even know what I was talking about......thats comforting!
    ooh long post....my question was we were in plain sight in the yard, what ever happened to porperty rights? Should we have ushered the dogs inside?
  6. SisMorphine

    SisMorphine Big Dog

    I don't know. I'm not a fan of the ever-paranoid dog owner. If AC came to my house doesn't it look bad for me if I don't let them in? What am I hiding? If I am doing nothing wrong then I won't worry. If you invite them in and show them around and cooperate completely I would think that, unless they have a specific vendetta out against you, you're more likely to NOT get fined for stupid little stuff if you don't act like an ass.

    I have nothing to hide. I have one therapy dog, one in training to be a therapy dog and agility dog, and my third dog is an agility competition dog. I have done bitework with the third, but they don't necessarily need to know that unless asked. And when asked I can give the names of police officers who I have dealt with when it comes to K9 training. My home is clean, the crates are clean, the backyard is clean. The dogs are vaccinated and registered. Come on in, AC, I'll give you some tea and the grand tour. I will prove myself the model citizen and would be happy to answer any and all questions. I have nothing to hide, so why would I act suspicious and not let them in?
  7. cheekymunkee

    cheekymunkee Top Dog

    You also do not own pit bulls. ;) Whole 'nother ball game when you do.
    david63 likes this.
  8. ABK

    ABK Rest In Peace

    I felt the same way - an innocent person has nothing to hide. BUT ... what w/ the long list of inane things thay have added to the "dog fighting paraphanlia" list, even a person who has never fought a dog in their life may be jailed just for having such simple items as leashes, harnesses or a Gazette. Better to keep the officers outside. :(
  9. Tiara

    Tiara Big Dog

    Look at their title - Animal Control...I don't need anyone coming into my house to control my animals. The only people welcomed into my home are friends and family. I have no problem protecting my rights and my dogs by speaking with them on our porch. Read the story below, the dog may have only been wanting to greet the officer or the dog may have felt his pack was threatened.
    Dayton Officer Shoots, Kills Pit Bull

    POSTED: 11:06 am EST March 2, 2007
    UPDATED: 12:11 pm EST March 2, 2007

    DAYTON, Ohio -- Police said a Dayton officer was forced to fire his weapon and killed a pit bull.

    Officers were on Wayne Avenue investigating a suspicious vehicle early Friday morning.
    They said the vehicle was traced to 16 North Garfield.

    Police said when an office knocked on the door to the home, a woman answered and an aggressive pit bull came charging toward the officer.

    Investigators said the office retreated from the dog, but became cornered in a fenced yard.

    Police said the dog was going to attack the officer, leaving the officer no choice but to shoot the dog.

    Officers said the woman could face a citation for housing a vicious animal.


    NOLEFAN Guest

    Allow me to let you in on a little secret. Here is what happens...They may know full well that they do not have enough evidence to get a conviction for the "offense" that they want to convict you on, however, they will use this accusation as a foot in the door to look at anything that can be interpreted as a crime. The idea is to create a compromising jury. The idea is, well if your not going to convict him/her on this charge, at least charge them with this/that. The law is subject to the interpretation of the officer on site. Like it was said before, if they want to get you for something, they will find anything. How do I know this? I have a very high ranking public official as a dear friend and breed owner. Cops, lawyers, and judges all have a vested interest in your defeat. Why do you think the local Sheriff gets on the local news and pontificates his measures to keep the rest of us safe.

    So, what does this all mean? Protect yourself at ALL costs, because you are the only one who will.
  11. NC

    NC CH Dog

    This reminds me of the time I was in a bar that got raided. I am sitting at the bar quite tipsy with a few drinking buddies of mine when the door busts open and ALE and the local cops come in looking for underage drinkers. Well they go into the bathroom and pull these young girls out that can't be more than 16 or so. But those girls had JUST walked in and gone to the bathroom. So the girls are bawling about how they were just using the bathroom.. the cops handcuff them the bartender is jsut sitting there with his mouth shut. So i take it upon myself to say something to the cop about these girls. A sargeant pulls me aside and says "Look here son.. do you really think we're going to stage a raid and come out empty handed?"

    Which brings me to my point if AC or the cops or any other law enforcement is coming to my house and wanting to "look" around I am certainly asking for a warrant. because if they are looking to bust you for whatever.. they are going to find SOMETHING to bring you in on. And all the need is one small thing in plain sight to use those famous words "probable cause" then you're truly screwed.
  12. diva

    diva CH Dog

    Agreed. Anything from pedigrees, treadmills, breaking sticks, breeding stands, etc. is considered dog fighting paraphanelia (sp?) from my understanding. Now while a person may not be doing anything wrong, I would think those things can be used against a person in court.
  13. DryCreek

    DryCreek CH Dog

    In the wonderful province of Ontario the AC officers do NOT need a warrent to enter your property or your home. All they need is to believe you may be harboring an illegal APBT type and they are allowed to use whatever force is deemed neccessary. Our right to privacy and just cause has been removed with Bill 132. And there is no such thing as innocent until proven guilty, if you own an unfixed/unmuzzled animal that looks like an APBT, they can take and destroy said dog as it is up to you to prove that it is not an illegal breed. The vet that works for the SPCA tells them it's an APBT type, it's dead, even if it's a boxer/ lab cross, it's dead.

    If your lucky, all that happens is you lose your dog, if your unlucky, you get to deal with the charges and fines doing possible jail time for owning a dog that looks like an APBT. It could be confiscated and destroyed and you could be fined up to $10,000 and sentenced to up to six months in jail.

    If you visit Ontario with your dog, they can take it and kill it. If you are visiting Ontario with your dog and a peace officer identifies it as a prohibited dog, you must provide proof that your dog is not. If you cannot, then you may face fines or jail time and your dog may be confiscated and destroyed, even if you are only visiting Ontario.

    JcLazyX210 likes this.
  14. Michele

    Michele Guest

    that is just disgusting. It really is....
    Bolushi likes this.
  15. DryCreek

    DryCreek CH Dog

    Tell me about it :( I'm embarrassed this law actually got passed in my province. If I have an American friend come visit with their dog, (which will not happen now :mad: can't say that I blame them ) they can take your pet and send it to a lab to be used there. You have no choice what happens once they have it in their grubby little hands. How can I have people come up here to visit just to end up having their dog sent to a lab or destroyed? It makes me sick.

    I posted that info just to point out that it's not the same everywhere, in Ontario some municipalities have even stricter laws than these. Don't cross the border at Windsor, it's even worse. They had a ban in effect long before it went province wide. All who own these dogs should delve much deeper into what each areas restrictions are. The act of crossing between towns could end up being a death warrant for your dog.

    Lets hope that Ontario's and every other ban is repealed so we can go back to being normal people again.
  16. Michele

    Michele Guest

    It's scary because once they are done crucifying the ABPT, they will start again with another breed.
  17. scooter

    scooter Big Dog

    Absolutely terrible to think about. My neighbor didnt know what Mikey was when we moved in and 3 months later we got Boss. He LOOKS like a pit. So my 12 yo was walking him in our yard on a leash and she drove up and rolled her window down and asked for her to take the dog inside so she could get out of her car!! My daughter did and told me about it. I said "here we go". Sure enuf the next afternoon a sheriff came and knocked on the door and asked if we had pit bulls. I said yes we had show dogs. He said the report was that we had vicious dogs. Oh yea rite. So I did let him in and showed him Mikey and his ribbons and Boss and his ribbons and all our certificates from shows etc. and my EBA card and my vet records, and he was quite satisfied after giving Mikey a treat and patting him on the head. Now dont get me wrong. It could have gone much worse and I was scared to death.
    But I was so glad to have all my things ready to show him. He did ask why I had them separated and I did tell him that they were gamebred dogs and would hurt one another if not separated. He was ok with that. I told him I was a responsible owner and I was sorry my neighbor was afraid. He left and that was a year ago.
  18. misterdogman

    misterdogman CH Dog

    This is a great post... but from experiance and as everyone knows... states are different and laws vary from area to area.... but also. Even if in the wrong and breaking the law... in some areas some AC officers tend to have that "holier than thou attitude" and in many circumstances and from a lot of peoples stories I have been told they have entered property (and I have experienced this also) with no warrants and they can also ask neighbors questions etc about you....so keep in mind their sneaky bastards and will try to get info before you know it. For instance if they ask how many dogs are in your back yard and you dont want to say 6 or 7 or 9 or even 4 or 1 for that matter and you say 3 or 0 but they went to the neighbors earlier and looked over the fence and know your lying.... then they have reason to search....or for any other reason like seeing exercise equip or tools that are illegal and they ask and you deny ...reason to search....or if at the front door and they ask about shot records and you dont produce them immediately they can demand them in writing from a vet and you must in some states turn over the dog until you show records for at least rabies, this lets them in to get teh dog and if you deny them the real cops come.

    So dont talk at all if needed to avoid the situation until you can preserve your rights.....and when you got the open window after they leave... you may have to ship the yard over to your secondary yard if your lucky enuf to have one lined up. Dont underestimate your right to remain silent and avoid situations you feel unfairly approached about..... until you seek legal council and are demanded to appear somewhere by a judge and testify you aint gotta say shit or respond in any way. Even then you can still plead the 5th so why would you have to answer to AC right now right here... Many people get caught up because they dont know their law and just do what their told because of the authority figure telling them to do so.
  19. rizzosmom

    rizzosmom Pup

    Well, first let me just say HI, because Im new here, bu7t I have plans to move to colorado this summer, and as far as I can tell I will not be anywhere close to Denver for sure, I will pay the extra gas money to live in the far country, I do not want to be constantly worried that my sweet angel who is protecting my home could be torn away by some idiot with a badge, and so to avoid all that crap, just dont live in that city!!! Country life is much better and cheaper
    Bolushi likes this.
  20. doglady

    doglady Pup

    I remember the very same story in a routine letter I recieved from the A.D.B.A. "What to do when the animal control comes knocking" (by the way thank you for posting it for the ones who did not recieve it)~~I love the bit about the frying pan but probably not the best idea. Here is a bit of a story for thought. Many years ago I met some individuals who owned some Red Boy dogs. It just so happens that these guys worked for the ac(and used their dogs in real sport!!!,How convienent!)and they lived next door to eachother (father and two brothers) so that they would not have too many dogs in each yard to require a kennel licence. On one occassion one of them even discretly nodded to his friend to let one of his dogs out of his kennel on my dog while I was standing in his yard!! His dog only weighed about 30lbs at the most and my 75lbs chain weight dog just stood like a statue not flinching a bit(on command) and watched this little pathetic dog dance around him, what I would call nipping at him(Thank God for the little dog my dog was well trained). My dog just stood there on my command not to retaliate and looked as if he was laughing at him!! Note that:the reason for that story is to let you know a little about some of the ac! The AC are not what they always seem and It is such a shame that the people who truely love this breed are the ones who get punished!

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