Senate Bills 657 and 658 aim to improve bond-or-forfeiture process in animal abuse and neglect cases to grant animal shelters and control agencies the ability to obtain bonds to cover costs of care or ownership of the affected animals. 

LANSING, Mich. (June 18, 2024) — Today, the Michigan Senate passed Senate Bills 657 and 658, legislation that aims to better equip animal control agencies and protection shelters with the resources needed to provide comprehensive care to animals involved in abuse or neglect criminal cases. Sponsored by Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) and Sen. Paul Wojno (D-Warren), the bills, if enacted, would amend the Michigan Penal Code to improve the existing bond-or-forfeiture system in animal abuse or neglect cases, providing improved support to the agencies responsible for the housing and care of affected animals.

“Some animals spend weeks, months, or even years of their lives in shelters that bear the financial burden for their care,” said Sen. Polehanki. “By creating an effective bond-or-forfeiture process in animal abuse and neglect cases, these bills will ensure that shelters and animal control agencies receive necessary funds to cover the cost of care for the animals involved.” 

Michigan’s existing process is dependent on a prosecutor’s decision to pursue a bond-or-forfeiture case. Even if a prosecutor seeks out this option, some jurisdictions cannot bring forth a civil bond-or-forfeiture case until a defendant has been arraigned in the abuse or neglect case. Delays in such cases overburden animal control agencies and shelters that often face issues of overcrowding and insufficient funding. However, the enactment of this legislation would require an owner to either forfeit their animal or post funds in a timely manner to cover the costs associated with their animal’s care and housing, mitigating the burden placed on animal control agencies. Together, these bills not only protect a defendant’s right to due process by including a notice requirement and opportunity to request a hearing, but they also require judges to take indigency into account when deciding to require a bond or set a bond amount.

“Animals offer so much love and comfort to Michiganders’ everyday lives. They deserve to be protected from abuse and neglect,” said Sen. Wojno. “This legislation will allow us to make much-needed improvements to our state’s bond-or-forfeiture system, helping speed up the timeline for animal shelters to stabilize animals rescued from abusive homes, and if applicable, place them into loving homes.”

Garnering support from humane societies and animal control organizations from across the state, the advancement of Senate Bills 657 and 658 is regarded as an important step forward in creating a more functional, commonsense process for the disposition of abused or neglected animals here in Michigan, improving outcomes for animal control agencies and animal victims themselves.

“Michigan Humane is grateful to Senator Polehanki and Senator Wojno for sponsoring SB 657 and SB 658 and to the Senate for passing the bills,” said Matt Pepper, President and Chief Executive Officer of Michigan Humane. “These bills will alleviate animal suffering, protect Michigan’s resources, and most important, help to end the cycle of neglect or abuse against animals and humans by improving the bond-or-forfeit process that applies when living animals are seized from an owner accused of animal cruelty or neglect.”

The bills have been sent to the Michigan House of Representatives for further deliberation.