Yes, there’s protective custody for pets, too

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In a recent article, Martinsville Bulletin reporter Amie Knowles posed an interesting and important question.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

“When pet owners are arrested, what happens to their pets?”

In Martinsville (Virginia), the issue surfaced when police arrested the owner of a dog and six cats on drug charges — and her house got condemned.

“In this particular case, Martinsville building officials condemned Roknich’s house due to ingress/egress and sanitation issues” after authorities executed a search warrant there, the Bulletin reported.

“With the owner taken into custody and the house being condemned, we didn’t feel it was safe to leave the pets there,” Martinsville Police Chief Sean Dunn said.

They ended up at the pound, instead. At least, the dog did. The cats went to the local SPCA.

SPCA of Martinsville-Henry County Executive Director Nichole Harris told the Bulletin that all six cats, which are being housed at the shelter, appear to be doing well.

“The pound’s not really set up to house felines,” Harris said, while the SPCA had available space.

Although they ended up in different places, all of the animals will receive the medical care and attention they need.

According to Dunn, the facilities will provide short-term care for the animals’ food and medical costs could be at the owner’s expense if arrangements are not quickly made. He also encouraged her friends or relatives to inquire about the pets and take them in if possible.

“We provide custody holds until something is facilitated,” Harris told the Bulletin. There’s no limit on how long the SPCA will provide a custody hold for an animal, he added.

“Especially if it’s an investigated case, it might take three or four months depending on court dates and if there’s a continuation,” Harris said. “It’s been four or five months before.”

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