Phoenix Exploring Changes To Displaced Animals Ordinance

Published: Monday, November 18, 2019 - 5:05am

Phoenix could be changing the way it deals with certain animals.

When someone is arrested for animal cruelty or neglect, Phoenix takes possession of the animal, and the person has 10 days to request a court hearing to request to get the animal back. But in the cases of people arrested for a non-cruelty offense or if they’re hospitalized and unable to care for their pets, there is no policy.

Councilwoman Thelda Williams requested an ordinance be drafted to address situations where a police officer seizes an animal for safekeeping in non-cruelty cases.

During November’s public safety subcommittee meeting, Ean White, assistant city attorney, presented a proposed ordinance change that would allow Phoenix to take possession and have the Arizona Humane Society hold animals for 72 hours before beginning the adoption process.

He said the city would benefit by “eliminating unnecessary court procedures which also has the benefit of decreasing officer overtime pay when they have to  attend court when they’re not scheduled for duty that day.”

White said the change would also decrease the use of municipal court resources for scheduling the hearings and notifying all parties involved.

The city contracts with the Arizona Humane Society to shelter animals that have been taken from owners. Tracey Miller, field operations manager with the Humane Society, said changing the 10-day period to 72 hours would help move the animals through the system faster into new homes.

“In doing so, the length of stay for our pets will decrease which reduces their stress level, which also reduces the amount of illnesses they can get in the shelter environment due to stress related incidents,” she said. “And it also allows us to help more homeless and abandoned animals because we’re moving the animals through the system quicker.”

Councilmember Carlos Garcia wasn’t sold on having one time frame.

“I would hate to think of someone going through an arrest, going through a situation and then coming out and having lost their pet,” he said. “You know, so an already traumatic experience and then having the trauma of not having the ability to regain their pet.”

He asked for more information to be presented to the public safety subcommittee like how often these situations come up and options for how long animals can be held.

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