Question

I need help to understand my rights and the necessary steps to take. I believe my dogs were wrongfully seized.

Answer

I suggest you contact an attorney in your area immediately. California has several laws regarding the seizure of dogs. Your application does not specify whether your dogs were seized based on a dangerous dog complaint, a cruelty/neglect complaint, if they were running at large, or for some other reason. The length of time a dog will be held at a shelter depends on why the dog was seized. For example, dogs that have attacked are sometimes detained for reasons of public safety and to detect signs of rabies. The dog’s “parent” should be given the opportunity to present their defense at a hearing. Even dogs declared potentially dangerous are often returned to their “parents”, although they are usually subject to muzzle requirements, confinement, etc. Animal cruelty/neglect cases are handled differently. If the animal’s “parent” is found guilty, the animal will be confiscated. There are also laws that deal with pre-conviction confiscation of the animal’s “parent.” Dogs seized because they are found at large are often returned to their “parent” upon payment of an impound fee and compliance with local laws which may require dogs to be sterilized, vaccinated and licensed before return. . As you can see, rights depend on the facts and circumstances. Again, I suggest you consult an attorney in your area.

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