- Associated Press - Monday, February 20, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A Wilsall lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require owners to pay for the care of animals seized during cruelty investigations.

The bill by Republican Sen. Nels Swandal would require a civil hearing within 21 days of the seizure to determine if it was justified and, if so, the amount of bond an owner must pay to care for the animals.

In recent years, counties have been hit with thousands of dollars in costs to care for seized animals. They are considered the property of the owner until the case is resolved.

If a bond isn’t posted, the animals could be forfeited to the county which could find them new homes.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the bill on Thursday, but did not take a vote.

Counties and operators of animal shelters supported the bill, but some livestock owners were opposed.

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