WHAT TO DO WHEN ANIMAL CONTROL COMES KNOCKING

Ask questions about Animal Control situations and local laws. Several of our members are ACOs and we'll try our best to help you! Please note: this area is not for "bashing" Animal Control Officers.

Postby cheekymunkee » March 8th, 2007, 10:53 am

WHAT TO DO WHEN ANIMAL CONTROL COMES KNOCKING
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:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
  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 canno 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.

If You Are Arrested:
  1. Remain silent. Answer no questions until you have consulted with a lawyer.
  2. Don't "explain" anything. You will have time for explanations after you have talked to a lawyer.
  3. Within a reasonable time they must allow you to make a phone call to get a lawyer or arrange bail. They are not allowed to listen to your phone call to your attorney, but they may "monitor" the rooms for "your protection". Do not say anything you do not want them to overhear; save that until after you are out on bail.

Telephone Inquiries or Threats:
You may receive telephone inquiries concerning the number of dogs you own and whether any dogs or puppies are for sale. Other questions may also be asked.

Your response should be to inquire "Are you interested in a puppy?". If the answer is "yes", ask that person for his/her name, address and phone number. Suggest that you or a responsible breeder will contact that person at a more convenient time for you.

If the answer is friendly and genuinely inquisitive, invite the person to look at your puppies.

If the question asked is "What is the price of each puppy?", simply say that puppies of this type are being sold for between "X" and "Y" dollars. Never say that you are selling them.

If the question asked is "Are these your puppies?", you should ask, "Why do you want to know?".

If you conversation indicates that the person is representing the county clerk's office or allegedly representing an official body, ask the caller for:
  1. Full name, title and phone number
  2. Agency's full name and full address
  3. Their supervisor's full name and phone number
  4. Nature of the inquiry (what it is about)
  5. Why the inquiry is being made
  6. How your name and phone number were obtained
  7. Ask that all future questions from that agency be submitted in writing

Preventative Measures:
  1. Always keep you kennel clean and take good care of your animals.
  2. Consider a P.O. Box or other address for business cards and advertisements. Keep descriptions of your location general (i.e. Southern California, rather than the name of the city where you live). The internet can provide anonymity for initial contacts. You can even buy a "remote prefix" to get a number from a nearby community forwarded to your hone or to a voice mail. Avoid local newspaper classifieds, they are often monitored.
  3. Screen any potential puppy buyers carefully. Always be alert that they may be Animal Control or even Animal Rights working under cover.
  4. Don't allow strangers into your home until you have screened them.
  5. Be fair and honest in all of your dealings, and be on good terms with our neighbors. Most animal control contacts are complaint-driven. Some omplaints may arise as harassment by people with unrelated grievances gainst you. It may be a disgruntled dog buyer or a cranky neighbor who doesn't like you parking in front of his house.
  6. Anything about you that can be observed in "plain sight" from the street or sidewalk can become probably cause for a warrant. Even areas on your property open to visitors can be dangerous. Be aware of which reas of your home are visible from the outside and plan accordingly.
  7. If you are confronted by Animal Control and turn them away, assume they will be back. Use the time available to make sure everything is clean and presentable. If you are over the limit on the number of pets, find riends who can provide temporary shelter for your dogs.


Whatever you do, stay calm and keep your wits about you.

Just say "no", no matter what threats or promises of leniency they make.

When in doubt, say nothing and speak to a lawyer afterwards.

Hermine Stover, Secretary
Responsible Dog Owners Of The Western States
23280 Stephanie
Perris CA 92570


*edited by Michelle so it would print a little better.
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Postby SisMorphine » March 8th, 2007, 11:44 am

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.
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Postby msvette2u » March 8th, 2007, 11:49 am

It sounds like this is geared more towards BYBs and tips they better follow in case someone reports them :|
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Postby SpiritFngrz » March 8th, 2007, 11:51 am

I agree, doesn't it seem shady if you don't let them in?
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Postby Michele » March 8th, 2007, 11:52 am

Like i said in another forum: if they came to my house, they would be looking at the back of a frying pan right before I smashed it over their heads.....
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Postby cheekymunkee » March 8th, 2007, 11:57 am

I let NO ONE in my home unless they were previously invited or have a warrant. I don't care HOW well I know you, if you show up at my door unannounced, I won't open my door. Around here, AC just doesn't pick a door to knock on, they are sent for a specific purpose. I want to know what that purpose is IN WRITING before I open my door to them. I've never had a reason for them to knock on my door ( and they never have) but at any time one of my neighbors could have a vendetta against me or my dogs & call AC. I trust no one. :wink:

I DO have great neighbors who love my dogs. My dogs have never been a problem to anyone. There are a couple of other families with APBT on my block as well, none of their dogs cause problems either. IF AC was to show up at my door I would have to assume they were looking for one of the people on my street who let their dogs roam the neighborhood, I would direct them to their doors.
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Postby cheekymunkee » March 8th, 2007, 11:58 am

On March 08 2007, 9:49 AM, msvette2u wrote:It sounds like this is geared more towards BYBs and tips they better follow in case someone reports them :|


Not necessarily, it can also be geared towards ANY ONE who owns a pit bull. Wouldn't be the first time.
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Postby dogged » March 8th, 2007, 12:06 pm

On March 08 2007, 10:57 AM, cheekymunkee wrote:I let NO ONE in my home unless they were previously invited or have a warrant. I don't care HOW well I know you, if you show up at my door unannounced, I won't open my door.


I agree 100%.

Thankfully, though, I don't have (close) neighbors and they have yet to bother me in the six years I've lived here.
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Postby Miakoda » March 8th, 2007, 12:17 pm

Most on that other forum know that last year I young girl got bit by a pit bull that a craphead neighbor claimed looked like one of mine. Soooo, here come the police. I tried explaing that the dog wasn't mine & that my backyard is like a concentration camp in terms of the dogs breaking free, but they didn't buy it & were demanding I accept responsiblity & all that stuff. So to prove a point that not only could a dog not get out, but that ALL my dogs were still in my home and yard, I led them through the house into the backyard. Big mistake. They did see that every one of my dogs was accounted for, but what got me was the fact that a police officer & an AC officer were lagging back & eyeing my home. They noticed the pedigrees in frames up on the walls, the break sticks (I keep a couple throughout the house but the main one they saw was a decorative one made out of Louisiana cypress & was never meant to be used), & all that jazz.

Thank goodness I've got a close childhood friend who is an LA state trooper, so I called him & explained the whole situation to him. I was so afraid of being "busted" for "paraphernalia" & I was extremely pissed at myself. The whole situation defused itself, but not before an unannounced visit from the local sherriff in which I did NOT let them in & called my friend to come over for backup.

So it's not that I have anything to hide, but that PETA & the HSUS have opened the doors & made way for people to be busted for dogfighting paraphernalia when in fact they have nothing to do with the acitivity. It's all based on what we consider proper containment & being a responsible dog owner, but they consider it "evidence."

So I don't care what happens in the future, I will NEVER allow anyone into my home without a warrant & a detailed explanation.
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Postby cheekymunkee » March 8th, 2007, 12:26 pm

So it's not that I have anything to hide, but that PETA & the HSUS have opened the doors & made way for people to be busted for dogfighting paraphernalia when in fact they have nothing to do with the acitivity. It's all based on what we consider proper containment & being a responsible dog owner, but they consider it "evidence."


Exactly. I have break sticks in my home and non-working treadmill ( that is getting tossed out tomorrow). AC could very easisly say I have dog fighting paraphernalia in my home and take my dogs from me based on that alone. Not a chance I am willing to take.
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Postby randi81 » March 8th, 2007, 1:11 pm

good info. being prepared in that aspect doesn't constitute paranoia in my neck of the woods.. it's a reality. like i said in one of my other posts... a cop stopped me while i was just walking down the street to check saydee's tags. not a big deal, she's legit.. but it's the principle. we had a golden retriever for YEARS when i was a kid, and he never had a license... we walked him every day, no cop ever stopped us. my neighbors are less than thrilled that i have a pit bull.. and while i doubt they'll ever try to make a scene and have saydee taken from me, i'm not taking any chances. my neighbor sandy with the fat golden retriever has told her BS lie to ALL the other neighbors about the day saydee ran out the front door and over to shasta, her dog. she told them that saydee was growling and showing her teeth. WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP. guess she forgot to tell them the part where she almost jammed an ice pick into my dog's head. :nono:
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Postby mnp13 » March 8th, 2007, 1:18 pm

I don't like being paranoid, which drives Demo crazy. However, with the rate of BSL and breed prejudice that we are dealing with, it's better to be safe than sorry. We have a treadmill, spring pole and other things that could be EASILY labeled as "paraphenilia." We will also probably be doing bitework in the back yard.

If you have neighbors who are jerks one phone call can get you investigated for a "dngerous dog" because it "looked mean" to someone.

I'm lucky, I train with an ACI who has juristiction in the county we are moving to (at least I think so) and live with a cop. However, that doesn't mean it won't be a serious headache. Dogs read stress and fear, especially from their owners and those dogs may react VERY differently than usual when they see the effect that officers at the door have on you.

The write up is for breeders, but even for someone who has "nothing to hide" it is sound advice. Personally, if I see a badge at the door, the dogs are all crated before I open it. Yell through the door "I have to put away my dogs" no matter what, that is important. If your dog manages to push past you, and we all know they can be slippery when they want to be, you may stand there and watch your dog get shot.

Never never never never never never touch an officer for ANY reason. EVER EVER EVER. If you see a badge, do not touch them. Period.

Be polite, be accomidating, but you don't have to let them in.

I'm sure Demo will weigh in the next time he is on.
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Postby msvette2u » March 8th, 2007, 1:25 pm

On March 08 2007, cheekymunkee wrote:
On March 08 2007, 9:49 AM, msvette2u wrote:It sounds like this is geared more towards BYBs and tips they better follow in case someone reports them :|


Not necessarily, it can also be geared towards ANY ONE who owns a pit bull. Wouldn't be the first time.


There was alot of this that was geared to puppies and puppies for sale, etc.
As an ACO I never demanded to be let in to anyone's home. I had the "luxury" of working with LEOs who were way more experienced in how to get folks to cooperate :|
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Postby Marinepits » March 8th, 2007, 2:27 pm

Here's more:

http://www.animalfarmfoundation.org/top ... 1&topic=55

ADOA's A Guide To Your Rights:
Excerpts From How to Respond to Anti-Dog Enforcement

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
American Dog Owners Association, Inc.
adoa@adoa.org
http://www.adoa.org
518-477-8469

How to Respond to Anti-Dog Enforcement

The following text outlines methods of inquiry and enforcement which may be used by local officials in attempts to enforce anti-dog 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.

PERSONAL INVESTIGATION:

If you are confronted with an official demanding to investigate your property, the following responses are recommended.

If the person presents a badge, you should ask for:

His full name and phone number

His supervisor's full name and phone number

The agency he represents

His badge number

Why he is there to see you

Is there any complaint involved

Who made these complaints (he probably won't answer)

Whether he has a warrant for a search

Request a copy of that warrant (he probably won't have one)

You should answer no questions, but ask that he send or deliver all questions in writing. You should write down the answers to all these questions as the conversation proceeds. A simple notebook will do the job.

If you feel that a search of your home will lead to a threatened confiscation of a dog or a criminal complaint, you should refuse entry to your home unless the sheriff or police are present with a search warrant. If he says that he can get one easily, then tell him to do so. Remain cool and polite. Call your attorney as soon as possible.

Remember: You do not have to let anyone into your house or on your property without a proper search warrant.

ADOA has pursued and prevailed in lawsuits precluding inspectors or law enforcement agents from such intrusions without a search warrant.

You should not be threatened with seizure without a court hearing or a court order. Obtain the names of all persons involved, including police officers. This may prevent seizure. Seizure of property without the due process of law is unconstitutional, and due process of law should include a court hearing in every action relating to such seizure. If the animal control officials or police seize a dog, they may not destroy the animal or harm it in any way until a judge has ruled that you are in violation and this can only occur after a full hearing.

Call your attorney at the time of threatened seizure and ask for help. Do not answer any questions from the police without legal advice. Do not offer any explanations regardless of what they may be (police and enforcement officials have a bad habit of misinterpreting such explanations!) Remember, everything can and probably will be used against you. Do not volunteer any dogs or other property.

COOPERATION:

Cooperation will not usually avoid prosecution. Also remember that seizure of one of your dogs without court action, under protest, amounts to prosecution without trial. Anything you say or do in regard to the attempted seizure or inquiries may be used against you in a criminal or quasi-criminal action. Everything you say or do will probably be used against you. Write down everything that is said or done as it happens. These notes can be valuable evidence to defend yourself at a later time. Try to avoid anger and avoid violence at all cost. Try to obtain as much information as you can: the informers, enforcing officials, officers, etc...Require enforcing officials and officers to put everything into writing. They may not do it, but you can ask.

Never make someone a priority in your life when that someone treats you like an option.
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Postby mnp13 » March 8th, 2007, 2:33 pm

If the animal control officials or police seize a dog, they may not destroy the animal or harm it in any way until a judge has ruled that you are in violation and this can only occur after a full hearing.


This is what I worry about the most. Ruby would go nuts with fear and might bite.* Riggs eats chainlink and will fence fight, getting in the middle of a fence fight - or any fight - could get someone bit, and in the middle of a fight I doubt anyone could identify the dog that bit.*



*I don't care to hear the lecture about temperament. I know my dog, I manage my dog, and I firmly believe that dogs are dogs before they are breeds.
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Postby Big_Ant » March 8th, 2007, 2:40 pm

*I don't care to hear the lecture about temperament. I know my dog, I manage my dog, and I firmly believe that dogs are dogs before they are breeds.

I'm not going to comment on that since I'm already on thin ice, but isn't it pretty damn hypocritical of you to post something like that and then end it with basically a "I don't want to hear it".

When people post things and then have something said to them that they don't like, and they get mad and say things back, isn't the justification always, "This is a public forum, you posted it, blah blah blah . . . "???

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Postby Marinepits » March 8th, 2007, 2:40 pm

Very important, from the US Constitution:

Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Am4
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Postby mnp13 » March 8th, 2007, 2:59 pm

On March 08 2007, 13:40, Big_Ant wrote:
*I don't care to hear the lecture about temperament. I know my dog, I manage my dog, and I firmly believe that dogs are dogs before they are breeds.

I'm not going to comment on that since I'm already on thin ice, but isn't it pretty damn hypocritical of you to post something like that and then end it with basically a "I don't want to hear it".

When people post things and then have something said to them that they don't like, and they get mad and say things back, isn't the justification always, "This is a public forum, you posted it, blah blah blah . . . "???

- Anthony


Nope, because it's an arguement that has gone on in 100 different threads, and is just stupid. There are PLENTY of people who think dogs are dogs first and breeds second. There are plenty of people who don't. Anyone can add their thoughts to a thread that already has that discussion on it, it doesn't need to invade thread after thread after thread.

Go ahead and go off about it if you want, I'm not going to answer you or anyone else on it. Don't really care about the opinions on it at this point. I manage my MIX just fine, breeds are breeds because they act according to that BREED's inherent temperament and instincts.

Yup, I posted it. Nope, don't care what people have to say about it. I am fully aware of my dog's possible reaction to extreme stress and fear. She has a limit, just as I believe EVERY dog has a limit. Your dog's limit may be higher than mine, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Some dogs will never ever reach that limit.

*This post is NOT directed solely at Anthony.
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Postby Big_Ant » March 8th, 2007, 3:13 pm

On 03/08/2007 10:59 AM, mnp13 wrote:
On March 08 2007, 13:40, Big_Ant wrote:
*I don't care to hear the lecture about temperament. I know my dog, I manage my dog, and I firmly believe that dogs are dogs before they are breeds.

I'm not going to comment on that since I'm already on thin ice, but isn't it pretty damn hypocritical of you to post something like that and then end it with basically a "I don't want to hear it".

When people post things and then have something said to them that they don't like, and they get mad and say things back, isn't the justification always, "This is a public forum, you posted it, blah blah blah . . . "???

- Anthony


Nope, because it's an arguement that has gone on in 100 different threads, and is just stupid. There are PLENTY of people who think dogs are dogs first and breeds second. There are plenty of people who don't. Anyone can add their thoughts to a thread that already has that discussion on it, it doesn't need to invade thread after thread after thread.

Go ahead and go off about it if you want, I'm not going to answer you or anyone else on it. Don't really care about the opinions on it at this point. I manage my MIX just fine, breeds are breeds because they act according to that BREED's inherent temperament and instincts.

Yup, I posted it. Nope, don't care what people have to say about it. I am fully aware of my dog's possible reaction to extreme stress and fear. She has a limit, just as I believe EVERY dog has a limit. Your dog's limit may be higher than mine, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Some dogs will never ever reach that limit.

*This post is NOT directed solely at Anthony.

Fair enough. I had no idea that this was a topic of discussion previously.

I personally have no issue with the topic though, just with the way it appeared that you came off at the end with saying that you wouldn't discuss it.

Thanks.

- Anthony
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Postby SisMorphine » March 8th, 2007, 3:14 pm

So reading all of this, learning more . . . frankly makes me want to shoot myself in the face. What happened to the days when you could live an honest life without worrying about being on the chased end of a witch hunt (for ANY reason, not just dog related)? Why is everyone out to get everyone else? Why is the world so smurfing petty and disgusting? Why would you want to bring more life into a world like this? Why would you want to continue to live in a world like this? Ignorance is bliss and I wish more than anything that I was 5 years old again, with no care in the world.
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