A new state law allows animal shelters to assume more control over animals involved in cruelty cases.
As of July 1, animal shelters in Kansas will have a new way to leash a runaway cost and space problem.
That's when a new law goes into effect that allows them to deal more timely with animals brought in for holding while their owners are processed through the court system on cruelty charges.
"What the law will do is put the financial responsibility back on the individual who was charged with cruelty rather than the nonprofit organization," said Renee Harris, shelter manager for the Lawrence Humane Society.
Harris testified earlier this year before a legislative committee in favor of the change. She told lawmakers that shelters often incur the costs of holding the animal while cruelty or dog-fighting charges are processed.
"Some of the cases we deal with may be animals that are not adoptable," she said.
Under the new law, pet owners are notified that they have to put up a cash or a performance bond to cover the cost for the care and veterinary treatment of that animal for a 30-day period.
If the owner refuses to do so, the animal shelter or humane society can petition the court to take charge of the animal.
"It would allow us to euthanize those animals rather than hold them for a year and a half," she said. "Or we could go ahead and place them in a home."
Harris said most cases take from six to seven months up to 18 months.
"When you're dealing with one person with 10 or 20 animals, it can get very costly," she said.
She said the shelter is holding five dogs whose owners have been charged with cruelty. One dog has been held for nine months.
"Right now the organization has to pick up the tab," she said. Once a case is through the courts, the owner is ordered to pay restitution.
"But we rarely get any money," she said.
She said holding an animal for a long time means other animals who are not adopted must die.
"For every week that we have hold an animal in a cruelty, I may have to euthanize a minimum of two animals because of the space," she said.