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What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:15 pm
by TamanduaGirl ... ontrol.pdf

I'm copying below from the site in case the site ever is gone.

by George J. Eigenhauser Jr.
(Mr Eigenhauser is an attorney at law licensed in the State of California
since 1979 and practices in the areas of civil litigation and estate planning)
What Every Dog Owner Needs to Know:

Dog owners and ethical breeders are increasingly being targeted. Disgruntled neighbors may
retaliate against dog owners, and many 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 that may be used by local officials in an attempt 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 US Constitution. No breeder or rescuer 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 without your permission. While regular police can enter in emergency
situations when human life is at risk (i.e., they hear gunshots or a scream inside), there are few, if
any, situations in which Animal Control can enter your home without a warrant. Simply tell them
(very politely) 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 and close (lock it, if possible) the
door behind you. This is necessary because:
A) Anything they see through the open door is in "plain sight" and may be the basis for an
arrest or probable cause for a search warrant.
B) 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 behind the front 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.
C) 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 your 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

5. In some locations, dog owners may have obtained special "breeder or rescue permits" that
stipulate that Animal Control has your permission to enter your kennel at any time. If you have
signed such a permit, they still cannot enter against your wishes since you can revoke permission
at any time. However, if you refuse permission, it may allow them to cancel your 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, etc. know they should
NEVER let animal control into your home or on your property (i.e., backyard, garage, barn, 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

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; 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

3. Ask why they are there. Request factual basis of the complaint and complainant's identity.

4. If they have other people with them (HSUS, press, etc.), get names and organizations for all

5. Note names & addresses of any witnesses to the encounter.

6. If you are physically injured by an officer, take photographs of injuries immediately, but do not
forego proper medical treatment as soon as possible.

7. Write down all information, as well as date and time of incident, immediately while details are
still fresh in your mind.

8. If your 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 talk to your

3. They must allow you a phone call (for calling a lawyer or to arrange bail) within a reasonable
amount of time. They are NOT allowed to listen to your phone call to your attorney, but may
"monitor" the rooms for "your protection". Do not say anything you do not want overheard; 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 for the person's name 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 you are asked, "What is the price of your pups?", simply say that puppies of this breed are being
sold for between "X" and "Y" dollars. NEVER say that you are selling them.
If you are asked, "Are these your puppies?", you should ask, "Why do you want to know?"
If conversation indicates the person represents County Clerk's Office or other official body, ask for:
--- Full name, title & phone number
--- Agency's full name and address
--- Supervisor's full name and phone number
--- Nature of inquiry (what it is about)
--- Why the inquiry is being made
--- How your name and phone number were obtained
--- Ask that all future questions from that agency be submitted in writing

Preventative Measures:
1. Always keep your kennel clean and take good care of your animals.

2. Consider a PO 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 phone 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 your neighbors. Most
animal control contacts are complaint-driven. Some complaints may arise as harassment by people
with unrelated grievances against you. It may be a disgruntled dog buyer or a cranky neighbor who
does not 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
probable cause for a warrant. Even areas on your property open to visitors can be dangerous. Be
aware of which areas of your home and property 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 friends 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 ASAP.

Permission to reprint and crosspost is granted.

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:34 pm
by ippyriddle
does this apply to animals other than dogs/cats?

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:54 pm
by alikeni
This is very good information. A lot of these are things I never would have even thought of.

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 5:06 pm
by trish_clare
I'm pretty sure it applies to all animals even though it was worded around dogs :D

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:36 pm
by TamanduaGirl
Yes it can apply to all animals. It even mentions about your options if you have to have a permit to have the animals in your area, if part of the permit says you need to let them in you can still refuse but could lose your permit.

Oh and I actually meant to put this in the legal issues section but wasn't paying attention apparently so will probably move it later.

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:41 am
by Legend
Thank you very much for posting this information TG. I've been wondering lately on certain tips other exotic owners had about dealing with animal control.

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:08 pm
by bajacalal
Something to mention -

If you answer the door and are presented with a search warrant, insist on seeing the warrant, the information on a search warrant must be totally correct. The address on the warrant must be the correct address, not your neighbors house, not "corner of Pine and Jefferson" etc. They cannot conduct a legal search if the information is incorrect. The warrant may also include time limitations such as "between 8:00 AM - 6:00 EST, not to exceed 10 days following date of issue." Politely state that you have been advised by your lawyer not to allow a search unless they have a valid warrant but that you will cooperate with them if they have a valid warrant. This may not stop a search by force but it will give you legal ammunition.

With rented property, a landlord may not authorize law enforcement to search a tenant's premises without a search warrant, and a warrant must be obtained under the same guidelines as if it were the tenant's own home.

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:54 pm
by ippyriddle
thanks for more tips (:

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:16 pm
by Talane
Wow I would never anticipate they would be malicious enough to do some of these things...

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:27 pm
by Moonfall
I think animal control needs to keep out of people's homes and away from them unless there is suspicion of cruelty.

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:56 pm
by codycatz
The powers of an animal control officer are dictated by the state and local laws. My son is the canine control officer ( no other animal is controlled in his town) and his duties are regulated as i mentioned.

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:20 pm
by Splashstorm
Thanks for posting this! I learned something very valuable today. :O

How did thing change so drastically in so short a time?

Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 4:38 pm
by Trefoil
25 years ago, before building on my property, I moved my horses to my land,15 miles from where I was living. It was summer and I had fenced 30 acres,powered up the pump and was keeping my 9 Arabians there. About 4 months in I got a call from animal control ( our version of humane society) notifying me that someone had reported neglect with a dead horse laying in my pasture. They told me they had checked and the "dead" horse had gotten up and walked over to them as they approached her, I had water available to them and they appeared to be in good condition. They told me it was probably someone that had driven by and not realized that horses sunned themselves laying flat out. They said they were just letting me know there was no problem.
Now,I would have a problem with them going on my land, at the time I was grateful that they cared enough to check. Now, I would worry that they would already have their minds made up and the arrest warrant made out before even checking. Again, What has happened to us? And how do we get back where we should be?

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:52 pm
by sarajeku
Trefoil wrote:Now, I would worry that they would already have their minds made up and the arrest warrant made out before even checking.

They can't do that can they? They'd need a search warrant first, then evidence to keep you if they did arrest you wouldn't they? I know someone who DEFINITELY needs to be behind bars. That all sounds so easy for AR to get good people arrested.
Why so difficult for people actually hurting other people (i.e. the woman driving her kids around high as a kite, beating her children,and calling my house every 5 minutes telling me she's glad my brother is dead so she can f**k some other man). Why can't AR nuts focus on nuts like her instead?
The investigation into her is taking so long just to start at all that- even though she does everything but scream "Hey popo! I'm guilty of killing him and I'm glad!" while staggering into the police station- they can't do a damn thing. The detective said "it's too hard to prove, we need more evidence." :wall:

Re: What to do if animal control comes knocking at your door

Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:55 am
by Lupercus
Unfortunately, verbal warrants issued by a judge via telephone are legal in my state for a short period in "urgent circumstances" up to and including after hours/holidays. Fortunately, most judges disapprove of the practice.