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Warning if you are over the animal limit in your city.


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I have been hearing all kinds of upsetting information about the new found powers of animal control in cities - at least in our area of Kansas City. I suspect that this is true lots of places as fining and enforcing animals laws is an easy source of income.

 

One of my clients was over the limit. She had cats in her house - they never went outside. She kind of does rescue work all on her own. Her house is clean and her animals are all well cared for - they all had shots and were leukemia tested. Someone turned her into the city. Animal control went out and simply confiscated all of her animals (she was allowed to keep 4 as that is the maximum allowed in Kansas City). The rest were carted off to the pound. She tried to be considerate to the officer hoping that they would work with her to find homes for her animals. They didn't.

 

In Kansas City the animal control officers can enter and search a home without a search warrant. They can confiscate animals on the spot. And they can also issue tickets for each animal confiscated.

 

In Parkville - which is a small town just outside Kansas City - there are now strict laws if you get bitten. Any report about an animal bite results in the animal being confiscated for 10 days. It doesn't matter if you have proof of rabies shots. They want to determine if that animal is vicious and I guess if they think it is vicious you just don't get your dog or cat back. Doctors must report animal bites to the police. Doesn't matter if it is a dog fight.

 

I am trying to find out more about the new restrictions because these are tighter than I can ever remember. It's looking grim.

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In Kansas City the animal control officers can enter and search a home without a search warrant. They can confiscate animals on the spot. And they can also issue tickets for each animal confiscated.

 

OMG :rolleyes: - Kansas City seceded from the Union?! :D Why were we not told? :D

 

For those of us still living in the US (and in SC, it pays to check every so often :D ), the government must abide by the Constitution and in most cases needs either a warrant or permission to enter and/or search a home.

 

ETA: We have had a long discussion about this in the Kennel Licenses thread in Politics and Culture. You may want to check out that thread if you've missed it.

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OMG :rolleyes: - Kansas City seceded from the Union?! :D Why were we not told? :D

Sally,

You are truly a breath of fresh air! :D

 

On a more serious note, never having been really criminal-minded, I thought warrants were reserved for suspected *criminal* activity. That is, someone had to get a judge to believe that evidence of criminal behavior would be found on the premises to which the warrant applied. Does having too many pets really count? This is a genuine question, because I could see someone searching someone's house on suspicion of, say, growing pot in the basement, or operating a cock-fighting ring on the enclosed porch, but too many cats (when there's no outward evidence of a problem--that is, smell, noise, etc.)? Seriously?

 

J.

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I could see someone searching someone's house on suspicion of, say, growing pot in the basement, or operating a cock-fighting ring on the enclosed porch, but too many cats (when there's no outward evidence of a problem--that is, smell, noise, etc.)? Seriously?

 

J.

 

Do you mean, would a judge actually sign a warrant to search someone's house for cats? I wonder, too. :rolleyes: I guess it would depend on how serious the municipality/county/governing body was about enforcing its ordinances.

 

In theory, the ACO would have to convince a judge there was probable cause to believe the person was violating the animal ordinance before a warrant would issue. With no outward evidence of too many cats, an anonymous tip alone wouldn't be sufficient. Information from a known source probably would, as long as the ACO could give some basis for why s/he believed the informant and his/her information was reliable.

 

But, as you know, usually AC doesn't need a warrant, because people give the ACO permission to enter. Once the ACO is inside, anything in plain sight is used in evidence against the person.

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OMG :rolleyes: - Kansas City seceded from the Union?! :D Why were we not told? :D

 

For those of us still living in the US (and in SC, it pays to check every so often :D ), the government must abide by the Constitution and in most cases needs either a warrant or permission to enter and/or search a home.

 

Sally, you crack me up :D:D:D

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What the hell is wrong with people?! I'm sure those laws were put in place to keep people from hording animals. I'm sorry that this happended to such a well meaning person :D Some AC officers think they are above the law because they have a badge. And yes, you need a search warrent to look in someone's house, even for cats. AC does NOT override constitutional law and if that woman had said NO WAY! when they showed up on her door step, she might still have her pets or at least had enough time to find temp. homes for them.

 

Without probable cause NO police officer, AC officer, etc has a right to search your stuff. Tell them, NO! Show me a warrent! This goes for your house, car or even the backpack you're wearing. If there is no dope on your dash, an open container on the floor or 10 cats running loose in the yard, they have absolutely no reason to search your stuff without and warrent and probable cause.

 

Off my soapbox now :rolleyes:

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Here is what I have found out so far:

 

I called the City and was told that if animal control can see more animals on your property than the limit of 4 then the animals can be impounded on the spot. So if you have five dogs in the yard and they can see them then they can impound. She told me that they cannot go into the residence. That animal control officers cannot get warrants.

 

Now, if the police enter a residence with a warrant and they see 15 cats then they can call animal control and have the animals impounded immediately.

 

But I just talked to the owner of Paw Prints magazine and they are currently doing a story on this issue. He said that it is their understanding that animal control officers are going into residences without a search warrant. If they can see the animals through the window then they have probable cause and can go into the residence and impound them. If you read the part of the law about having too many animals it simply says that the animals can be impounded. Now it may be that the animal control officers are just intimidating people and people are just so scared they are letting them in. It could also be that animal control is calling the police, then sitting out front until the police show up with a search warrant. I have no idea how difficult it is to get a search warrant for animals - they may not even have to go before a judge since animals are considered to be property. Legal or not legal it is happening here.

 

Animal control officers here have a quota to meet so they may simply be doing things they shouldn't be doing so that they can meet their daily quota.

 

Paw Prints has some more interviews this afternoon and will call me when they find out more.

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Animal Control tries that here as well. Abby barks a fair amount an AC officer picking up a dog across the street heard her and came to the door to confiscate an "Excessively Noisy" dog. Abby was in the yard barking at the disturbance on the outside of the fence including the AC truck with it's cargo of barking dogs. DW answered the door and this AC officer tried to enter the house until DW pushed her back. I came over and asked her what she was doing and she said she was going to take the noisy dog. I asked her for a warrant or complaint to take Abby and she said she didn't need one. I pointed out that in order for a law enforcement officer of any kind to enter a private residence uninvited to confiscate something she needed a warrant which she did not have and please leave. She ignored me and started to push through Judi. Right there and then I told her in no uncertain terms if she entered the house without a warrant and uninvited I would place her under arrest right there. To make my point I grabbed my handcuffs off my service belt. She left. A month later I got a complain from AC that I had too many dogs onsite. I counted the dogs 5 times to make sure I had the correct amount. 1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2,. Yep only 2 dogs. Not 3 the limit or 4 the amount on the complaint. 2 dogs, 2 cats.

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Here is what I have found out so far:

 

I called the City and was told that if animal control can see more animals on your property than the limit of 4 then the animals can be impounded on the spot. So if you have five dogs in the yard and they can see them then they can impound. She told me that they cannot go into the residence. That animal control officers cannot get warrants.

 

Now, if the police enter a residence with a warrant and they see 15 cats then they can call animal control and have the animals impounded immediately.

 

There's the catch...the AC officer needs to SEE too many cats, not hear about it. This is where plain view comes into play. The AC officer can stand on the SIDEWALK and look in a window. Anyone can for that matter. If he/she peers into the window like a peeping tom, they are now trespassing. Plain view is when the law can plainly see something amiss. IE: there's a bag of weed on the dash of a car or 15 dogs left out in a chain link fenced yard. They can NOT climb a privacy fence to count dogs, nor can they walk into a neighbors yard without permission to count dogs.

 

Let us know how the article turns out. I hope it draws a ton of attention!

 

 

Desertranger.....I feel bad for your community. that AC officer should lose her job for her actions. I'm so glad there are people willing to take a stand against jerks like that.

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There's the catch...the AC officer needs to SEE too many cats, not hear about it. This is where plain view comes into play. The AC officer can stand on the SIDEWALK and look in a window. Anyone can for that matter. If he/she peers into the window like a peeping tom, they are now trespassing. Plain view is when the law can plainly see something amiss. IE: there's a bag of weed on the dash of a car or 15 dogs left out in a chain link fenced yard. They can NOT climb a privacy fence to count dogs, nor can they walk into a neighbors yard without permission to count dogs.

 

Let us know how the article turns out. I hope it draws a ton of attention!

Desertranger.....I feel bad for your community. that AC officer should lose her job for her actions. I'm so glad there are people willing to take a stand against jerks like that.

The really bad part of all of this is that some really nice people are getting caught in the middle. My friend is a social worker. She is just devasted. She just sits and cries. It is just horrible. And I don't know how much recourse she would have because she thought she had to let the AC officer into the house so she did.

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OMG :rolleyes: - Kansas City seceded from the Union?! :D Why were we not told? :D

 

It's just the midwest... Maybe they thought we wouldn't notice! :D (Just a joke, to be clear... from the Deep South... which actually did attempt to secede and where such jokes are common...)

 

No, seriously... I keep picturing Dorothy telling poor Toto, "We're not in Kansas anymore."

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Animal Control tries that here as well. Abby barks a fair amount an AC officer picking up a dog across the street heard her and came to the door to confiscate an "Excessively Noisy" dog. Abby was in the yard barking at the disturbance on the outside of the fence including the AC truck with it's cargo of barking dogs. DW answered the door and this AC officer tried to enter the house until DW pushed her back. I came over and asked her what she was doing and she said she was going to take the noisy dog. I asked her for a warrant or complaint to take Abby and she said she didn't need one. I pointed out that in order for a law enforcement officer of any kind to enter a private residence uninvited to confiscate something she needed a warrant which she did not have and please leave. She ignored me and started to push through Judi. Right there and then I told her in no uncertain terms if she entered the house without a warrant and uninvited I would place her under arrest right there. To make my point I grabbed my handcuffs off my service belt. She left. A month later I got a complain from AC that I had too many dogs onsite. I counted the dogs 5 times to make sure I had the correct amount. 1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2,. Yep only 2 dogs. Not 3 the limit or 4 the amount on the complaint. 2 dogs, 2 cats.

 

Ugh! How awful. Glad you stood up to them. I volunteer at the pound here but deal with the office and veterinary staff--and other volunteers--not the officers. Why in the world would AC officers be given quotas? Is that like that all over the country?

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Wow, I'm so glad there are no animal limits or licensing requirements where I live. DH and I are looking to buy a place with some land, and no animal limits is one of the main reasons we've decided to stay in the county we're in. It's not like I want to have 50 dogs, but I have 4 and we will most definitely have at least two more while these 4 are still living.

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The really bad part of all of this is that some really nice people are getting caught in the middle. My friend is a social worker. She is just devasted. She just sits and cries. It is just horrible. And I don't know how much recourse she would have because she thought she had to let the AC officer into the house so she did.

 

I am sorry for your friend. I certainly didn't mean to make light of what must be a tragic situation for her. Many people believe as she did and think one must let the ACO in. No Miranda warnings in these cases.

 

The plain sight doctrine, as I understand it, means that anything an officer can see, when s/he is somewhere s/he has a legal right to be, is admissible as evidence against the person. So, yes, if the ACO could see in the window from, say, a public sidewalk, then I suppose s/he could act on what s/he saw. She couldn't come into one's yard and peer in the window, though - the yard is called the "curtilage" in 4th-Amendment-speak and the law has no business there without permission or a warrant.

 

Could an officer seize the contraband cats? Maybe - but at least in my state and federal circuit, animals are property. Which means the gummint can't take animals away for keeps without due process. What due process means to each of us may vary by locality and it's always best to check with a local(ish) lawyer if you have a specific situation. Around here, the owner gets notice and a hearing before animals are disposed of. UNLESS the owner surrenders them. Which happens because, as Tommy points out, some people think if they cooperate with the nice officer it will go better for them. *sighs heavily* Very sad.

 

Good for you for contacting the press, though. :rolleyes: I think the more people become aware of how laws meant to protect animals are being used against responsible owners, the better!

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I spent too many years as a T-ranger working for a chief ranger who could care less about the law who wanted us to enforce the law his way even if it meant stepping on the Constitution. I'm a Constiututionalist, the wrong guy to pull that crap on. It was during my tenure as a ranger that I found out how many people in law and code enforcement don't pay attention to either the constitution or the law. The people who are most likely to be this way are departments like Animacl Control, Code Enforcement, believe it or not the fire dept and of course any one in a police dept who considers themselves "Old School".

 

I have stopped letting these people get away with that kind of s--t and when it happens I demand their ID, employee and badge number the name of their supervisor then I file a complaint that includes the demand that the complaint be made part of that persons personnel file. I'm glad I started doing that because if gives these fools pause to stop and think.

Sometimes. Unfortunatey in the case of Sandra the CE officer that hasn't made an impression on her and I'm going to have to write another complaint on her. The 3rd in 5 years. If I don't here from the city by next week I'll send one more letter than take it to the city council.

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Ugh! How awful. Glad you stood up to them. I volunteer at the pound here but deal with the office and veterinary staff--and other volunteers--not the officers. Why in the world would AC officers be given quotas? Is that like that all over the country?

Apparently the AC officers weren't doing their jobs. They were driving their trucks to some secluded place and sleeping. So someone thought that if they had quotas they would have to work. I don't think anyone looked into what the conseqences of this policy might be. I have heard that they have just scooped dogs up from peoplle's back yards and carted them off just to meet their quota.

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I spent too many years as a T-ranger working for a chief ranger who could care less about the law who wanted us to enforce the law his way even if it meant stepping on the Constitution. I'm a Constiututionalist, the wrong guy to pull that crap on. It was during my tenure as a ranger that I found out how many people in law and code enforcement don't pay attention to either the constitution or the law. The people who are most likely to be this way are departments like Animacl Control, Code Enforcement, believe it or not the fire dept and of course any one in a police dept who considers themselves "Old School".

 

I have stopped letting these people get away with that kind of s--t and when it happens I demand their ID, employee and badge number the name of their supervisor then I file a complaint that includes the demand that the complaint be made part of that persons personnel file. I'm glad I started doing that because if gives these fools pause to stop and think.

Sometimes. Unfortunatey in the case of Sandra the CE officer that hasn't made an impression on her and I'm going to have to write another complaint on her. The 3rd in 5 years. If I don't here from the city by next week I'll send one more letter than take it to the city council.

I think the shit is about to hit the proverbial fan here. Kansas City has kind of a history of doing things and then finding out later they can't. At least twice since I have lived here AC has decided to hire people and go door to door to check for unregistered animals and households with too many animals. They hire people, spend a lot of money and get started. And then the whole thing comes to a screeching halt and we never hear another word about it. The last time they tried this I heard that about 1/3 of all the people they bothered threatened to sue the city. And I'm sure you can't just go door to door and search like that. And they tied up the police all over town. Whenever someone refused to do what they were told to do the AC officers called the police to come and help. It was a huge mess.

 

There have been other rumors going around - all the dog people are really up in arms right now so all kinds of things are circulating - the city is going to go door to door again and even worse I have heard that they may require vets to turn in their clients who have unregistered animals or who have too many animals. I can't believe that they would even try that. Someone even asked me if I have to turn in my clients who are over the limit. Like I would ever do that. Fortunately petsitters are not regulated by anyone.

 

Dog and cat owners are threatening to shoot the AC officers if they try to come into their residences. This is getting really interesting really fast.

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OMG - Rover Ridge! :rolleyes:

:D

That would be good.

 

I did get some good news. My friend my have grounds to sue the city. Wouldn't bring her animals back but it might make her feel better.

 

The trouble is that most people do not know what their rights are when animal control shows up. They think they have to let the AC in. Or they just get so intimidated that they let them in.

 

Ac cannot enter the house. No one can enter the house except the police with a warrant.

 

AC cannot just seize your animals on the spot. Animals are property and cannot be seized without due process.

 

I guess that AC officer should never have taken her cats. Once she saw that the cats were in good health and living in a clean environment she should have left and filed a report and do whatever they do.

 

I think my friend might feel even worse when she finds out all she had to do was say no and I don't think that AC officer could have done anything. She has a screened in front porch and you can't see anything in her windows at all. The officers have to be able to see them from the street.

 

What an awful mess.

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Depending on where you are they may very well have a warrant...

and folks end up being intimidated into signing over their animals...

Oh and do check local law...a hearing can be set up w/in 10 days. Could you find a lawyer when your animals are seized on Friday and the hearing is on Monday?

 

Numbers laws just don't fly with me. Numbers can be dropped down and certainly don't address care.

 

 

Also pays to stay on top of proposed anti-pet legislation. Groups in TX fought back this year to REGAIN due process that had been legislated awaywith the help of AR groups while animal owners were sleeping.

 

Some communities have given ACOs all kinds of authority. Some places they are law enforcement , others they aren't.

It is TOTALLY screwed up and happening more and more frequently.

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My friend is cracking up. She is going to end up in a psyche ward somewhere. She just keeps trying to find her cats. It is just horrible.

 

This just drives home how important it is for everyone to know their rights under the law. And to not let some city government jerk intimidate them into making the wrong decision.

 

If you are over the limit don't ever leave more dogs outside than the city allows. Fix the windows in your house so that people can't see in. And never let them in the house without a court order.

 

My friend just thought that once AC showed up she had no choice but to surrender her animals. She just handed them over.

 

I don't have the faintest idea what to do to help her. I just listen to her cry.

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