618.052  IMPOUNDMENT OF COMPANION ANIMAL; ORDER WHERE CHARGES PENDING BUT ANIMAL NOT IMPOUNDED.
   (a)   As used in this section:
      (1)   "Agent of a county humane society" means a person appointed by a county humane society pursuant to Ohio R.C. 1717.06.
      (2)   "Companion animal" has the same meaning as in Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1].
      (3)   "Impounding agency" means the county humane society, animal shelter, or law enforcement agency that, in accordance with division (b) or (c) of this section, either has impounded a companion animal or has made regular visits to the place where a companion animal is kept to determine whether it is provided with necessities.
      (4)   "Officer" means any law enforcement officer, agent of a county humane society, dog warden, assistant dog warden, or other person appointed to act as an animal control officer for a county, municipal corporation, or township in accordance with State law, an ordinance, or a resolution.
   (b)   Except as otherwise provided in this division, an officer may impound a companion animal if the officer has probable cause to believe that it or other companion animals that are kept by the same person on the premises are the subject of a violation of Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1] and if the officer has lawful access to the companion animal at the time of the impoundment. The officer shall give written notice of the impoundment by posting the notice on the door of the residence on the premises at which the companion animal was impounded, by giving it in person to the owner, custodian, or caretaker of the companion animal, or by otherwise posting the notice in a conspicuous place on the premises where the companion animal was seized. No officer or impounding agency shall impound a companion animal that is the subject of a violation of Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1] in a shelter owned, operated, or controlled by a board of county commissioners pursuant to Ohio R.C. Chapter 955 unless the board, by resolution, authorizes the impoundment of companion animals in a shelter owned, operated, or controlled by that board and has executed, in the case when the officer is other than a dog warden or assistant dog warden, a contract specifying the terms and conditions of the impoundment.
   (c)   If charges are filed under Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1] against the custodian or caretaker of a companion animal, but the companion animal that is the subject of the charges is not impounded, the court in which the charges are pending may order the owner or person having custody of the companion animal to provide to the companion animal the necessities described in divisions (C)(2) to (6) of Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1] until the final disposition of the charges. If the court issues an order of that nature, the court also may authorize an officer or another person to visit the place where the companion animal is being kept, at the times and under the conditions that the court may set, to determine whether the companion animal is receiving those necessities and to remove and impound the companion animal if the companion animal is not receiving those necessities.
   (d)   An owner, custodian, or caretaker of one or more companion animals that have been impounded under this section may file a written request for a hearing with the Clerk of the Court in which charges are pending that were filed under Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1] and that involve the impounded companion animals. If a hearing is requested, the court shall conduct a hearing not later than 21 days following receipt of the request. At the hearing, the impounding agency has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that probable cause exists to find that the defendant is guilty of a violation of Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1],unless probable cause has previously been established in a judicial proceeding, in which case the court shall take notice that probable cause exists and shall not require further proof of probable cause. A hearing that is conducted under division (d) of this section shall be combined whenever possible with any hearing involving the same pending charges that is authorized and conducted under division (e) of this section. If the court finds at the conclusion of the hearing that probable cause does not exist for finding that the defendant committed a violation and that the defendant otherwise has a right to possession of the impounded companion animals, the court shall order the animals to be returned to the defendant. If the court finds at the conclusion of the hearing that probable cause exists for finding the defendant guilty of a violation with respect to one or more of the impounded companion animals, the court shall do one of the following with respect to each impounded companion animal:
      (1)   Allow the impounding agency to retain custody of the companion animal pending resolution of the underlying charges;
      (2)   Order the companion animal to be returned to the defendant under any conditions and restrictions that the court determines are appropriate to ensure that the companion animal receives humane and adequate care and treatment.
   (e)   (1)   At any time that one or more charges are pending under Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1], an impounding agency may file a motion in the court in which the charges are pending requesting that the defendant post a deposit to cover the costs of caring, during the pendency of the charges, for any impounded companion animals seized or removed from the defendant's custody if the reasonably necessary projected costs of the care that will be provided prior to the final resolution of the charges are estimated to be in excess of one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500.00). The motion shall be accompanied by an affidavit that sets forth an estimate of the reasonably necessary costs that the impounding agency expects to incur in providing that care, which may include, but are not limited to, the necessary cost of veterinary care, medications, food, water and board for the companion animals during the pendency of the charges.
      (2)   Within ten days after the date on which a motion is filed under division (e)(1) of this section, the court shall conduct a hearing. Except as otherwise provided in division (e)(5) of this section, at the hearing, the impounding agency has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that there is probable cause to find that the defendant is guilty of a violation of Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1], unless probable cause has previously been established in a judicial proceeding, in which case the court shall take notice that probable cause exists and shall not require further proof of probable cause, and that the reasonably necessary cumulative costs of caring during the pendency of the charges for the companion animals seized or removed from the defendant's custody or control are reasonably projected to exceed one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500.00).
      (3)   If the court finds at the conclusion of the hearing that probable cause does not exist for finding that the defendant committed a violation of Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1] and that the defendant otherwise has a right to possession of the companion animals, the court shall order the animals to be returned to the defendant. If the court finds at the conclusion of the hearing that probable cause exists for finding that the defendant committed a violation of that section, but that the reasonably necessary costs for caring during the pendency of the charges for the companion animals seized or removed from the defendant's custody or control are reasonably projected to be one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500.00) or less, the court shall deny the petitioner's motion to require the defendant to pay a deposit. If the court finds at the conclusion of the hearing that probable cause exists for finding the defendant guilty of the violation with respect to one or more of the impounded companion animals and for determining that the reasonably necessary projected costs of caring for the companion animals exceed one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500.00) during the pendency of the charges, the court shall do one of the following:
         A.   Order the defendant to post a deposit with the Clerk of Court in the court in a form and in an amount that the court determines is sufficient to cover the cost of care of the companion animals from the date of impoundment until the date of the disposition of the charges;
         B.   Order one or more of the companion animals to be returned to the defendant under any conditions and restrictions that the court determines to be appropriate to ensure that the companion animals receive humane and adequate care and treatment;
         C.   Deny the motion of the impounding agency requesting the defendant to post a deposit, but permit the impounding agency to retain custody of one or more of the companion animals pending resolution of the underlying charges.
      (4)   The court may order the defendant to forfeit the right of possession and ownership in one or more of the companion animals to the impounding agency if the defendant fails to comply with the conditions set forth in an order of the court that is rendered under division (e)(3) of this section. If the order that was not complied with required the defendant to post a deposit, forfeiture of the companion animals relieves the defendant of any further obligation to post the deposit.
      (5)   A.   A hearing that is conducted under division (d) of this section shall be combined whenever possible with any hearing involving the same pending charges that is authorized and conducted under division (e) of this section. However, division (e)(5)B. of this section applies when both of the hearings are conducted and combining them is not possible.
         B.   At a hearing conducted under division (e) of this section, an impounding agency shall not be required to prove that there is probable cause to find that the defendant is guilty of a violation of Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1] if the court already has  made a finding concerning probable cause at a separate hearing conducted under division (d) of this section. In such an event, the probable cause finding made at the hearing conducted under division (e) of this section.
   (f)   (1)   If the defendant is found guilty of violating Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1] or any other offense relating to the care or treatment of a companion animal and the defendant posted a deposit pursuant to division (e) of this section, the court shall determine the amount of the reasonably necessary costs that the impounding agency incurred in caring for the companion animal during the pendency of the charges. The court shall order the Clerk of the Court to pay that amount of the deposit to the impounding agency and to dispose of any amount of the deposit that exceeds that amount in the following order:
         A.   Pay any fine imposed on the defendant relative to the violation;
         B.   Pay any costs ordered against the defendant relative to the violation;
         C.   Return any remaining amount to the defendant.
      (2)   If the defendant is found not guilty of a violation of Ohio R.C. 959.131 [959.13.1] or any other offense relating to the care or treatment of a companion animal, the court shall order the Clerk of Court to return the entire amount of the deposit to the defendant, and the impounding agency shall return the companion animal to the defendant. If the companion animal cannot be returned, the court shall order the impounding agency to pay to the defendant an amount determined by the court to be equal to the reasonable market value of the companion animal at the time it was impounded plus statutory interest as defined in Ohio R.C. 1343.03 from the date of the impoundment. In determining the reasonable market value of the companion animal, the court may consider the condition of the companion animal at the time that the companion animal was impounded and any change in the condition of the companion animal after it was impounded.
   (g)   An impounding agency that impounds a companion animal under this section shall pay a person who provides veterinary care to the companion animal during the impoundment for the cost of the veterinary care regardless of whether the impounding agency is reimbursed for the payment under this section or Ohio R.C. Chapter 959.
(Ord. 04-43. Passed 11-15-04.)