Boarding fees as Forfeiture

Boarding Fees as Forfeiture

Typically while the dog is being held by animal control the owner is being charged with boarding fees.  If animal control refuses to let the owner keep the dog pending classification and appeal, these fees can accrue for over a year.  Most animal control ordinances require you to pay these fees as a condition of allowing your dog to go home.  Thus, the dog could conceivably be found not dangerous, and the owner faced with thousands of dollars of boarding fees.  If the owner is unable to pay such fees, the ordinance usually provides that the dog is abandoned and becomes the property of animal control.  It can then be euthanised.  The owner has won the case but lost the dog.  In such an instance, the Boarding Fees become a forfeiture.

This was argued in Oliver v. Clay County.  As result, the County attorney "interpreted" the Clay County Ordinance to not charge boarding fees in the event the dangerous dog finding was overturned.  The same thing happened in Marion County in ULU's case.

Applicable Case Law

California

Schoendorf v. City of Spokane, (Unreported Cal. 2007) - The court stating "The city needs to examine the process of appealing a dangerous dog determination to ensure that they are not permanently depriving someone of their property interests before there is a chance to appeal, because of financial reasons."

Florida

Department of Environmental Protection v. Zabielinski, 785 So.2d 517 (3rd DCA 2000) - The court held that forfeiture of a $60,000 vessel because the owner applied for title using a false name and address was violative of the Excessive Fines clause of the Eighth Amendment. "Civil forfeitures which serve in part as punishment are subject to an Eighth Amendment excessive fines analysis.

Hann v. Carson, 462 F. Supp. 854 (USDCMD Fla. 1978) - In the context of the impoundment of an automobile, the court said, "It is beyond question that plaintiff has a genuine property interest in the possession and use of his car, and being free from unjustified payments of towing and storage charges.

Iowa

Folkers v. City of Waterloo, 582 F. Supp.2d 1141 (USDC ND Iowa 2008) - The issue of boarding fees was discussed tangentially in this unsuccessful § 1983 action. One of the things that was discussed in the City Council hearing was whether the dog would be put to sleep if Folkers did not pay the accrued boarding fees.

Kentucky

Louisville Kennel Club v. Louisville Metro Government, 2009 WL 3210690 (W.D. Ky 2009) - The court holding that a requirement that a dog owner whose dog had been seized for alleged animal cruelty post a $450.00 bond unconstitutional because of the risk that the dog owner would permanently lose his dog if he could not post bond.  The court pointed out that while probable cause was required to seize the dog, that it would still be possible for the owner to be found not guilty, thereby winning the case but losing the dog.

Ohio

Dayton Police Department v. Thomas, 2010 WL 1267887 (Ct. App. Ohio 2010) - In a forfeiture case, the police department demanded payment from Thomas for storage charges for his vehicle (driven by a third party who was arrested on drug charges) while it was impounded. The court stated, "(A) vehicle owner whose property was seized by the police but who has been convicted of no crime or whose vehicle was allegedly used in a crime without the owner's permission or knowledge, would bear the expense of such actions for which he or she was not responsible." The court ruled that the trial court acted within its discretion in ordering the police to pay the storage fees rather than the owner.

United States Supreme Court

Austin v. United States, 113 S.Ct. 2801 (1993) - Held that forfeitures of property are subject to the Eighth Amendment Excessive Fines Clause.

 

Dangerous Dog Law

Helping to defend our best friends. Dangerous Dog Law (DDL) focuses on the legal defense of allegedly dangerous dogs. DDL is a member of the Pit Bulletin Legal News Network.

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